Jul 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]


Department of Physics
College of Science

Kettler Hall 126B ~ 260-481-6306

Gang Wang, Chair
Sally Mikhail, Assistant Chair
Tim Grove, Physics Lead Advisor

Melissa Froderman, Administrative Assistant

People are often unaware of what physics is and what physicists do.  They believe that physicists can only be teachers or professors; that physics is impractical; that physicists are “thinkers” not “doers”; and that physics is all “theory”.  Physics, however, is much more.  Most physicists are experimental scientists.  Much of today’s technology, including our medical technology, originated in the physics laboratory.  Most physicists work in industry and are often titled “Engineer”.  Physicists have many employment opportunities because of the skills developed through physics.  Learning physics teaches you many important skills such as problem solving, experimentation, and communication. 

The Department of Physics provides an excellent educational opportunity for our students.  Our award winning program is one of the most rigorous physics degrees.  It is designed to help students understand physics and develop the skills to be a scientist.  Every class emphasizes experimental work, computational work and communication skills.  Our program is designed to help create a sense of community among our students in order to help them succeed. Finally, each of our students is involved in doing cutting edge research by the time they graduate. 

Physics Bachelor’s Degree:

Within the Physics program, there are a number of concentrations; most are interdisciplinary.   


  • Astronomy.  The Astronomy concentration adds course work in astronomy to the physics major.  It also has traditional physics courses that are modified to be more relevant to astronomy.  The program is designed to provide students with a strong background for future careers.  The astrophysics track adds several additional courses that provide either more hands-on skills and/or greater theoretical understanding.  The astronomy concentration with an optional track in astrophysics seeks to lead students to a career in astronomy, optics, data analysis, or software for pursuing graduate education in physics, astronomy or engineering.
  • Biomedical Physics.  The Biomedical Physics concentration combines Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.  It is designed to help the student understand physical mechanisms in biology and can be used as preparation for medical school or graduate study in medical physics or biophysics.  There are three separate tracks available to students in the Biomedical Physics concentration. 
    • Biophysics: combines courses in biology with physics providing a strong physics background with which to examine biology. 
    • Medical Physics: this track has the core requirements to pursue graduate school in medical physics (medical physics is a wonderful career!).
    • Pre-med: preprofessional program for medical school. 
  • Computational Physics.  The Computational/Mathematical concentration adds a number of either computer science or mathematics courses to the physics program and is a good background for modeling and for further study of mathematical or computational physics in the future. 

    • Computational Physics: Adds additional advanced Computer Science courses in exchange for some of the advanced laboratory course work in physics. 
    • Mathematical Physics:  Adds additional advanced Mathematics courses in exchange for some of the advanced laboratory course work in physics. 
  • Engineering Physics.  The Engineering Physics concentration adds courses from different engineering programs (Electrical, Mechanical, and Civil) so that you can learn basic engineering skills and build on these skills with the scientific skills developed in physics.  There are three separate tracks in the Engineering Physics Concentration.

    • Civil Engineering: Adds Civil and Environmental courses replacing some of the intermediate physics courses. 
    • Electrical Engineering: Adds Electrical Engineering courses in place of some intermediate physics courses. 
    • Mechanical Engineering: Adds some mechanical engineering courses in place of some intermediate physics courses. 
  • Materials Science.  Materials Science is the study of properties, structures and uses of various materials.  The concentration adds courses from chemistry, physics, and technology that teach about material structures and how to use the tools to perform analysis of materials (X-Ray, Scanning Electron Microscope, Scanning Probe Microscope, Optical Analysis, etc.)
  • Optoelectronics and Photonics.  Optoelectronics and Photonics is the study of light and the production of light, and the electronics used in detection of light. This concentration expands upon the physics program by adding courses in laser physics, coherent optics and electronic instrumentation.   

For details on pursuing a secondary education second degree (BSEd) to teach Physics in middle school/high school, click on the links to the Secondary Education - Second Degree  Program and the School of Education   page in this catalog.  Note:  The BSEd as a second degree in these programs cannot be earned without completion of the bachelor’s degree in the content area from the College of Science.


  • Astronomy  
  • Geology
  • Materials Science
  • Physics

Research Certificate:

  • Research Certificate in Physics


For details on the various degree programs, see the Program Descriptions  section in this Catalog.


The department offers opportunities for students to participate in fun and educational events such as:

  • Friday Night at the Observatory
  • Active Research Programs
  • Physics Demonstrations