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Physics is the most fundamental and exact of the physical sciences. Its laws are basic to deep understanding in all of technology, and in many fields of study, such as astronomy, chemistry, engineering, materials science, photonics, biology, medicine, geology, and environmental science.

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Background Information

The Department of Physics offers a wide range of curricula that prepare students for industrial, governmental, academic or graduate work in these fields. The physics education program prepares students for teaching in secondary schools. Graduate program activities, such as research projects and colloquia, offer undergraduate students many opportunities for learning experiences outside the classroom. Finally, the Tri-College University physics program offers a variety of courses in basic and
applied physics usually found only at very large universities. This program involves neighboring Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead.

High School Preparation

A prospective physics major is generally expected to have taken chemistry, physics and mathematics courses (through trigonometry) in high school. Courses in computer programming also are helpful. Deficiencies in any of these subjects, however, may be remedied in the freshman or later years at the University.

Curriculum Options

The Department of Physics offers a major in physics, along with an option in optical science and engineering. Double major programs in physics and mathematics and physics and computer science also are available.

Physics majors take basic courses in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and modern physics, as well as specialized courses, such as optics, photonics, and statistical mechanics. A physics major prepares students for graduate work in physics and eventual employment as college teachers or as research physicists in government or industry. Physics students are in demand at many institutions for graduate studies in condensed-matter physics, materials science, chemical physics, biophysics, mathematical physics, nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics, physics education, medical physics, photonics, engineering and environmental science.

The optical science and engineering option includes an interdisciplinary optics/photonics sequence of courses taught by the Department of Physics and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering using a state-of-the-art optics teaching laboratory. This is the only regional program of this type. Optics and lasers are enabling technologies and are applied in most high tech experiments, communications, devices, medical diagnostics and media. There are more than 5,000 optics-related companies in the United States alone, but even more important, photonics provides the technical foundation for many more. Optical science and engineering has exploded to encompass nearly all fields of science and technology with a consequent shortage of individuals trained in the field. The optical science and engineering option will enhance any job search.

Career Opportunities

A great variety of employment opportunities exist for physics majors who wish to pursue careers after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Some find positions in industry or government. Many technical industries seek physics graduates for work in software development, engineering, science and lab technician positions, management and sales. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers of starting salaries offered by campus recruiters shows that students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics can make up to $64,000 per year when starting right out of school. More commonly, the survey found that physics graduates can expect a starting salary between $46,000 and $58,000.

As technology continues to develop, there will be a need for skilled people to make new discoveries in the basic sciences. Because of this, talented physics majors are encouraged to pursue the doctoral degree. Outstanding doctoral graduates in physics find research and teaching positions in universities or employment in government laboratories and research-oriented industries.

An education in physics is so fundamental that it provides an excellent preparation for graduate education in nearly every technical field, including engineering. Additionally, North Dakota State University graduates in physics have entered medical schools and have studied law. One past graduate received a doctorate in
biophysics and now works at the University of Minnesota Medical School; another is at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Some of our recent graduates worked on advanced degrees in biomedical engineering, chemical physics, electrical engineering, solid-state physics, meteorology and radiological science. A number of recent
graduates have pursued graduate studies at schools such as Cornell University, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Carnegie Mellon University, Ohio State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, State University of New York Stony Brook and NDSU.

If you have a technical career objective, examine it closely. You will find that a major in physics, with one of the options at NDSU, will give you the preparation you need to achieve your goals.

Financial Aid

Financial aid at NDSU is available in the form of loans, grants, scholarships and work-study. Students who qualify for federal college work-study may be paid for work on department research projects. Highly qualified students may be hired as undergraduate research assistants at the campus Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.


The Cooperative Education Program provides students the opportunity to earn money and gain valuable experience by spending one or more semesters working in industrial or government laboratories.

Sample Curriculum

General Education RequirementsCredits
First Year Experience
  UNIV 189 - Skills for Academic Success1
  COMM 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
  ENGL 110, 120 - College Composition I, II 3, 3
  English Upper Level Writing Course3
Quantitative Reasoning
  MATH 165 - Calculus I4
Science & Technology
  PHYS 251, 251L - University Physics I and Lab 4, 1
  PHYS 252, 252L - University Physics II and Lab4, 1
Humanities & Fine Arts6
Social and Behavioral Sciences6
Cultural Diversity-
Global Perspective-
College and Department Requirements Credits
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.S. Degree) 6
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.A. Degree) 12
Second Year Language Proficiency (B.A. Degree) -
Total 6-12
Major Requirements Credits
CSCI 160 - Computer Science I or
  ECE 173 - Introduction to Computing

4 or 3
MATH 129 - Basic Linear Algebra 2
MATH 166 - Calculus II 4
MATH 265 - Calculus III 4
MATH 266 - Introduction to Differential Equations 3
PHYS 171 - Introductory Projects in Physics 1
PHYS 251R - University Physics I Recitation 1
PHYS 252R - University Physics II Recitation 1
PHYS 330 (MSUM) - Intermediate Mechanics or
  PHYS 455 - Classical Mechanics

4 or 3
PHYS 350 - Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 360 - Modern Physics II 3
PHYS 361 - Electromagnetic Theory or
PHYS 370 (MSUM) - Electromagnetic Theory

3 or 4
PHYS 370 - Introduction to Computational Physics 3
PHYS 411, 411L - Optics for Science and Engineering
  and Lab
3, 1
PHYS 462 - Heat and Thermodynamics 3
PHYS 485 -Quantum Mechanics I 3
PHYS 486 -Quantum Mechanics II 3
PHYS 489 -Senior Project 3
400 Level Math Electives 6
General Chemistry Sequence with Labs 8
Total 64-67
General Physics Option Credits
CSCI 161 - Computer Science II 4
Option Electives 0-1
Physics Electives 6

MSUM=Minnesota State University Moorhead

This sample curriculum is not intended to serve as a curriculum guide for current students, but rather an example of course offerings for prospective students. For the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of entrance into a program, consult with an academic adviser or with the Office of Registration and Records.

South Engineering
Room 218

South Engineering is located on Albrecht Boulevard, just south of the Memorial Union (Campus Map)

Contact Information

Department of Physics
North Dakota State University
South Engineering 218
Dept 2755, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8974 / Fax: (701) 231-7088

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Ceres 114
Dept 5230, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802
Campus address: Ceres Hall 114
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5230 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: NDSU WebMaster

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 10:29:43 AM