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The study of physics is an attempt to understand the fundamental nature of the forces and particles and the resultant states of matter that make up the physical world. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UMSL is devoted to providing undergraduates with a broad - based education in the fundamental concepts of physics and with the experimental and theoretical skills essential to practicing scientists.

Outside the classroom, research opportunities for undergraduates are available in many fields. Undergraduate education in physics prepares students for both graduate study and professional careers. The department offers course work leading to a BA or BS in Physics and, in cooperation with the School of Education, a BA in Physics with teacher certification and a BS in Education with an emphasis in Physics.

Degrees and Areas of Concentration

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers superb course work leading to the following baccalaureate degrees:

  • BA in Physics
  • BS in Physics with emphasis areas of:
    • Astrophysics
    • Engineering Physics
    • General Physics
    • Biophysics
  • BA or BS in Physics with Master's Level Coursework for Secondary Teacher Certification
  • BS in Secondary Education with Emphasis in Physics (offered through the College of Education)

Students seeking to major in physics are first designated as ‘pre-physics majors’ until they have completed both PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 or equivalent courses. Upon successful completion of PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 with grades of C or better, students will be allowed to declare physics as their major. Each of these courses must be completed successfully within two attempts. 

Explore Degree Details in the Bulletin >>

Undergraduate Advising

Professor Sonya Bahar is the Undergraduate Advisor for Physics and Astronomy. If you'd like to set up an appointment, please contact her by email at bahars@umsl.edu or by phone at 314-516-7150.

Prior to a visit, you may want to consult our Undergraduate Handbook for Physics Majors (PDF) which describes our degree programs in detail.

Financial Aid

All students should explore financial aid opportunities through the Student Financial Aid office.  And, upon admission to UMSL, all students are encouraged to apply for UMSL Competitive Scholarships using the General Scholarship Application Form. Through the general scholarship application, students can review a comprehensive list of scholarships available.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a number of scholarships and awards which undergraduates may be eligible:

  • Physics & Astronomy Alumni Scholarship is available to new physics majors with outstanding ACT or SAT scores or continuing physics majors with outstanding academic records.
  • The Richard D. Schwartz Scholarship is available to full-time junior/senior physics majors in good standing.
  • The Don C. and Susan P. Winter Endowed Scholarship in Physics & Astronomy is available to physics majors with a minimum ACT score of 24 or who have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • The Pierre Laclede/Physics & Astronomy Alumni Scholarship for undergraduate physics majors is available to physics majors who are also accepted into the Pierre Laclede Honors College.
  • The Junior Alumni Award is awarded to physics majors who attain a 3.5 average or better in Physics 2111 and 2112.  The award is given to the student in the semester they enroll in Physics 3200.  Transfer students must take Physics 2112 on this campus to be eligible for this scholarship.
  • The Senior Alumni Award is given to the outstanding physics major at the rising senior level with the highest GPA among the incoming senior class.
  • The Jeffrey Earl Award is given to an outstanding graduating senior every May.
  • Undergraduate Research Awards are available for undergraduate physics majors who conduct a research project with a faculty mentor.  Students receiving this award are required to enroll for at least one credit hour of Physics 3390 and present their research results at the campus Undergraduate Research Symposium in April.
  • Teaching Assistantships with stipends may also be available to qualifying students to prepare them for the independent effort required in industry or graduate school.
  • NASA Research Internships for the summer and academic year are available for students interested in astrophysics through the NASA/Missouri Space Grant Consortium.