The mission of the Physics Department is to educate and train the next generation of physicists, perform cutting-edge and internationally-recognized research, and support the education of students in allied areas such as engineering, chemistry, atmospheric science, and the biological sciences.
Our undergraduate program prepares physics majors for employment in industrial research or for further graduate school in physics or related fields, including astrophysics, space physics, optics, biophysics, engineering, or medicine. We further play a vital role in the education of other science and engineering students, and promote the understanding and appreciation of physics through our general study courses. Externally funded research is the foundation of our graduate program, which prepares our students for scientific challenges in private industry, government labs, or academia. We also encourage our undergraduate physics majors to participate in departmental research endeavors. Finally, we promote the advancement of science through publications, public outreach, and other activities within our profession.
At a Glance:
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Alabama in Huntsville has 9 faculty members, and offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Physics, as well as an MS degree in Optics and Photonics Technology. We are located in the Optics Building.
- Applied and Theoretical Physics Concentration
- Astronomy and Astrophysics Concentration
- Optics Concentration
- Engineering Physics Concentration
- Secondary Education (Class B) Certification
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- 5-Year B.S./M.S. (JUMP) Program
Is Physics Right for Me?
Physics might be for you answer yes to any of the following questions:
- Am I interested in discovering how and why things work?
- Am I more interested in discovering how the same idea can explain a variety of different devices or problems rather than just a single one?
- Am I more interested in finding exact quantitative explanations rather than being satisfied with generalities?
- Am I interested in the big questions?
Why Would I Want to Major in Physics?
- It’s interesting and exciting. Physics truly is one of the most exciting and interesting subjects one can study. Discoveries from physics have revolutionized the world and will certainly continue to do so. The area of physics cover such intriguing topics as lasers, superconductors, black holes, quantum computers, big bang theory, relativity, and the list goes on and on. It also covers more basic but still fascinating topics such as why the sky is blue, why sunsets are red, and why ice floats. In short, physicists are explorers trying to understand the world around them.
- It’s a versatile major. Physics majors can go on to careers in computer science, engineering, research and development, biology, and…
- Adaptability. A degree in physics is for students who want a broad-based physical science education. Physics students receive training in problem solving skills that are universal and indispensable, making the students highly adaptive and able to learn new technologies as they are developed.
- Medicine. Yes, medicine. Physics majors, along with biotech majors, have the highest MCAT scores! Physics majors also have the second highest LSAT scores.
- The Physics reputation. Physics majors have a reputation for solid mathematical skills, strong problem solving ability, and good work ethic.
- Skills. Physicists are problem solvers. Their analytical and “soft” skills make physicists versatile and adaptable so they work in interesting places. You can find physicists in industrial and government labs, on college campuses, in the astronaut corps, and consulting on TV shows. In addition, many physics grads work at newspapers and magazines, in government, and even on Wall Street—places where their ability to think analytically is a great asset.
- Salaries. Physics majors are near the top in terms of average salary.
- Job Satisfaction. Physics majors have high level of private sector and government job satisfaction.
- A valuable resource you should consult is the AIP Statistical Research Center, which contains a trove of data on employment and other items for all levels of physics degrees.
Master of Science
This degree denotes a much deeper understanding of the major areas of Physics, as well as one or more subspecialties such as astrophysics or optics. We offer both thesis- and course-based options. The time required can be as short as 1.5 years for the course-based option. The typical completion time for the thesis option is about 2 years.
Within the thesis option, we offer the Optics and Photonics Curriculum, which is ideal for presently-employed students needing more advanced study in these areas.
This is the terminal degree in physics and indicates a fundamental understanding of physics and the ability to perform original research and advance the state of knowledge in a particular field.
Optics Building (OPB)
Room 201 B
Huntsville AL 35899