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What is Physics?

Physicists study the world around us in order to discover the basic principles or laws which govern the natural world. As a physicist you can:

  • Seek to understand the origin of the universe and the ultimate structure of matter;
  • Study the principles underlying the structure of materials in order to design faster computer chips or improved liquid crystals used for electronic displays;
  • Work in hands-on lab courses studying laser-based optics, learn electronic instrumentation for the physical sciences including the computer acquisition and analysis of data, and use modern lab equipment such as the scanning tunneling microscope which can see individual atoms;
  • Acquire the theoretical and experimental background for work in areas such as astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, computer science, mathematical physics, and engineering.

Developments in science and technology move very fast and a degree in Physics at Penn State provides you with the fundamental tools which you will need in order to attack the scientific and technological problems of the next millennium.

An undergraduate degree in Physics gives students a broad, deep, rigorous understanding of quantitative problems which is useful to many different careers in computers, engineering, finance, etc. With the rapid and unpredictable pace and direction of technological advance, physics gives the undergraduate their most important skill, namely the ability to think clearly and rigorously about any technical problem which may arise.

To earn a bachelor of science degree in Physics, you must complete 121 or more credits, which include University General Education requirements (Gen Eds), requirements of the Physics major, and electives (which differ from option to option).