The major is a part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, an academic unit within the College of Science and Mathematics.

Physics is the study of the laws of nature that describe the universe we see around us and the relationship of energy and matter. This includes the study of nature on every scale from the smallest subatomic particles to the evolution of the universe itself. The study of physics is more than the pursuit of basic scientific knowledge. It is the development of a way of thinking about problems whether learning what is inside a proton or how to use knowledge from biology, chemistry or geology to solve an interesting practical problem.

In this major, students will be immersed in a program that integrates a comprehensive classroom curriculum with extensive hands-on experience working in research laboratories with our faculty. Students have opportunities to work both on campus and at national and international facilities to conduct research in nuclear physics and astronomy, and use state-of-the-art equipment on campus in materials, computational physics and non-linear dynamics. To find out more about the major and what the program is like consult and

Degrees Offered



Applied Physics

Physics/Engineering Combined Program

Fundamental Studies

Individual Option





Declaring the Major

New Freshmen and Transfer Students
Students should declare the Physics major when they register for orientation.

Currently Enrolled Major Changers 
Students should submit a "Change or Declaration of Major" form to the Physics and Astronomy Department head in the Physics and Chemistry Building, Room 2186.

Progressing in the Major

Remain in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.

Students must make at least a "C" grade in Physics 250 or Physics 150 before progressing to Physics 260.

Students select one of the concentrations listed below:

  • Fundamental Studies
  • Applied Physics: Applied Nuclear Physics
  • Applied Physics: Computational
  • Applied Physics: Materials
  • Applied Physics: Electronics and Instrumentation
  • Applied Physics: Applied Nuclear Physics
  • 3/2 Engineering (Physics and Engineering Combined Program): Requires that students complete 96 credit hours including all JMU General Education requirements, the physics core requirements, differential equations and at least 12 additional credit hours with at least a "B+" average.
  • Individual Option: Courses beyond the core requirements are selected in consultation with a faculty adviser and must be approved by that adviser, the department head, and one other faculty member. Progress towards degree completion is reviewed by the faculty adviser.
  • Multidisciplinary: Provides a solid foundation in physics for students whose interests extend beyond traditional physics fields. The four tracks of business, technical and scientific communication, biophysics, and secondary education.

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