Department of Physics & Astronomy

Undergraduate Program Overview


Our department offers several programs leading to the B.S. and B.A. degrees in physics. The philosophy of our degree programs is to train students not only to acquire the knowledge of Physics but to learn how to solve new problems and to participate in the creation of new knowledge. 

The extensive course offerings and modern facilities within the Department of Physics & Astronomy, coupled with close, personal counseling by faculty advisers, provide students with a physics program that is characterized by its breadth and flexibility. Students are also encouraged to participate in undergraduate research during their stay at UCR. The hands-on experience gained from this can be invaluable for their future careers. In 2009, 57% of graduates participated in research with our faculty.

The core requirements begin with our freshman seminar, Physics 39, focusing on physics-related careers and research while setting expectations for the undergraduate major experience.  The requirements culminate with our capstone advanced laboratory course, Physics 142L, which provides an equipment-rich, open-ended laboratory experience where students apply, integrate and further develop the knowledge and skills they have acquired while pursuing their major. 

A unique feature of our undergraduate major curriculum is the 24 unit introductory sequence, Physics 41ABC, designed specifically for Physics majors and intended to be taken in their freshman year. This series puts our undergraduates on the fast track to upper division Physics courses, undergraduate research, and towards success within the major. All Physics degrees require the same core courses which are generally completed by the end of junior year leaving time for additional courses that meet the students’ goals and interests.

Our program offers both B.A. and B.S. degrees in Physics.
The B.A. degree is ideal for students who want a liberal arts education and future careers in law, business or policy with training in physics that may be useful in patent law, high tech business management or sales and technology policy.

There are several tracks within the B.S. degree program:

Both the Standard and Applied Physics and Engineering tracks offer ideal preparation for graduate school in Physics, Astronomy, Applied Physics or Engineering.  The latter track also aims at students interested in immediate employment in STEM-related fields who may wish to take more courses in computer science or engineering. In addition, students may consider obtaining a minor in Math minor by taking 24 upper division units in Math such as Math 113, 146ABC, 165AB.

The Biophysics track is appropriate for students interested in medical or other health-related professional school or graduate school in Bioengineering, Biomaterials, Biophysics, or Biochemistry or Environmental Physics.

Students interested in high school teaching may wish to take our Physics Education track. This program prepares students for teaching internships and certification programs immediately upon graduation and/or completion of a Masters of Education degree in 1 year.

Degree Requirements
Physics Major Requirements
College (CNAS) Breadth Requirements
Sample Programs
B.S. in Physics: Standard Track
B.S. in Physics: Applied Physics and Engineering Track
B.S. in Physics: Biophysics Track
B.S. in Physics: Physics Education Track
B.A. in Physics
Your future with Physics: Career directions

Based on the recent data, the American Institute of Physics reported that following their graduation with Physics BA/BS degrees, 33% of graduates went to graduate school in Physics and Astronomy, 23% went to other graduate or professional schools including math, chemistry, engineering, medicine, law, business and public policy, 21% found employment in the private sector, primarily in STEM fields including physics, computer-related, or engineering, and 17% found employment equally split between academia, high school teaching, and military or government.

For more up-to-date information check the American Institute of Physics' Statistical Research Center and their Physics Trends flyers.

Cost of Study
Registration and other current fees are posted on the campus website. An additional out-of-state tuition and is charged to non-California residents. U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States may become California residents after living in the state for one year. See the Residency Assistant in the Registrar's Ofiice for more information.
Living and Housing Costs
There is guaranteed housing for all new students who meet all housing deadlines. Information on availability, location and the cost is available from the UCR Housing Office, which can be reached at (951) 827-6350 or via the web at www.housing.ucr.edu. The cost covers furnished double or triple rooms, cable, data connection, activities, all utilities except telephone, and meals. All rooms are heated and air conditioned.
Student Body
The campus enrollment for fall 2015 was 21,539 students; 2,931 of these students were enrolled in graduate programs. The number of physics majors as of fall 2016 is over 140.
Riverside is a city of approximately 300,000 people located 50 miles east of Los Angeles and 100 miles north of San Diego. The area features orange groves, a superb winter climate, and abundant recreational facilities. The San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains close by offer hiking and, in the winter, downhill and cross-country skiing. Palm Springs and the high desert are 60 miles to the east, and the Pacific Ocean is 50 miles to the west.
The University
The University occupies a spacious 1,200-acre modern campus at the foot of the Box Springs Mountains. The campus was established in 1907 with the founding of the Citrus Experimental Station to conduct research in the agriculture of southern California. In 1954, the College of Letters and Science was established, and in 1959 Riverside became a general campus of the University of California. Traditionally, the sciences have been strongly emphasized on this campus.
Applications may be downloaded from the Internet Websites http://my.ucr.edu/prospective/freshman.aspx (freshman entry) or http://my.ucr.edu/prospective/transfer.aspx (transfer students). The filing period for the fall quarter is November 1-30, July 1-31 for the winter quarter, and October 1-31 for the spring quarter.
Student Affairs Office
Department of Physics
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521

Telephone: (951) 827-5332
FAX: (951) 827-4529
Email: derek.beving@ucr.edu

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Department Information

Physics & Astronomy
Physics Building

Main Office Tel: (951) 827-5331
Main Office Fax: (951) 827-4529
Maynard, Bonnie; Chair's Assistant, Academic Personnel
E-mail: bonnie.maynard@ucr.edu