The Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is one of the largest undergraduate physics programs in Wisconsin and is well-known for offering quality education, placing its graduates in successful career paths, and attracting national recognition for its successful efforts.

The diverse nature of the U.W.L. physics program makes our graduates highly sought after in modern industries where physics and engineering are applied.

In addition, many U.W.L. physics graduates are accepted into top graduate degree programs where they can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. In addition to our unique programs, the department also stands out in its emphasis on involving its physics majors in undergraduate research. This engages students to work closely with individual members of the faculty, providing hands-on learning opportunities which are very different from the traditional classroom experience.


  • Physics with emphases available in:
    • Astronomy
    • Computational Physics
    • Optics
  • Physics with Biomedical Concentration
  • Physics with Business Concentration
  • Physics Education
  • Physics/Engineering Dual Degree
  • Physics/Physical Therapy Dual Degree Graduates are employed as:
  • Engineering Physicist
  • Research Physicist (government or private industry)
  • Laboratory Scientist
  • Space Scientist
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Optical Engineer
  • High School Science Teacher (with teacher certification)
  • Planetarium Director
  • Technical Writer Further Education
  • Graduate study in physics, astronomy/astrophysics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computer science
  • Medical School
  • Law School
  • Business Management Long-Term Career Development
  • College or University Instructor (with advanced degree)
  • Engineer
  • Director of Research and Development
  • Medical Physicist
  • Industrial Administrator
  • Patent Attorney
  • Plant Manager

Sample Degree Plan

Semester 1

  • PHY 203 – General Physics I
  • PHY 497 – Physics and Astronomy Seminar
  • MTH 207 – Calculus I
  • HIS 101 – Global Origins of the Modern World
  • ENG 110 – College Writing I

Semester 2

  • PHY 204 – General Physics II
  • PHY 497 – Physics and Astronomy Seminar
  • MTH 208 – Calculus II
  • HPR 105 – Health and Physical Well Being
  • CST 110 – Communicating Effectively

Semester 3

  • PHY 302 - Optics
  • PHY 311 – Experimental Physics (writing emphasis course)
  • PHY 320 - Statics
  • MTH 310 – Calculus III
  • ECO 110 – Microeconomics and Public Policy

Semester 4

  • PHY 250 – Modern Physics
  • PHY 334 – Circuits (writing emphasis course)
  • MTH 309 – Linear Algebra with Differential Equations
  • ENG 201 – American Literature I
  • Appreciation Course

Semester 5

  • PHY 321 – Classical Mechanics
  • PHY 335 – Electronics
  • CHM 103 – General Chemistry I
  • ECO 336 - Women in the U.S. Economy

Semester 6

  • PHY 343 – Thermodynamics
  • ECO 120 – Global Macroeconomics
  • CS 120 – Software Design I
  • Appreciation Course
  • Elective Course

Semester 7

  • PHY 498 - Research
  • PHY Elective Course
  • SAH Core or Minor
  • Elective Course

Semester 8

  • PHY 401 – Quantum Mechanics
  • PHY 491 – Physics Capstone
  • PHY 498 – Physics Research
  • SAH Core or Minor
  • Electives

Department Highlights

  • In 2015, the American Physical Society (A.P.S.) ranked the U.W.L. Physics Department number one in the nation of bachelor’s degree-only institutions for having the highest average number of physics graduates (31) in the years 2011-2013. The department has consistently ranked in the top ten.
  • The U.W.L. Physics Department was a co-recipient, together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), Kettering University, and the Colorado School of Mines, of the American Physical Society’s 2013 Award for Improving Undergraduate Education which recognizes physics departments and/or undergraduate-serving programs in physics that support best practices in education at the undergraduate level.
  • The Physics Department is a nationally-recognized leader in undergraduate physics education and in 2012 was chosen by the A.I.P. Career Pathways Project for a site visit from which AIP could learn and promote the Physics Department’s effective practices for the preparation of physics undergraduates for STEM careers.
  • Every year the department hosts its annual Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics where a Nobel laureate in physics visits U.W.L. to interact with students and faculty and to give a physics seminar and a public lecture. As of 2016, 17 Nobel laureates have visited the Physics Department.
  • The department’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (S.P.S.) received an Outstanding Chapter Award from the national SPS office in 2013. Additionally, the department sponsors a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma (the physics honor society), a Physics Club, and a Women in Physics Club.
  • The department was profiled as a successful undergraduate program in the American Association of Physics Teachers National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics report. The department was also featured in the Physics Today article, “Why Many Undergraduate Physics Programs are Good but Few are Great.”
  • Faculty in the department have received over $1.5 million dollars in external funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and other external agencies to support faculty and student research activities.
  • Students in the department have received a number of awards, fellowships, and scholarships based on their academic performance and ability to excel in research, including the following nationally competitive awards: Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship (three recipients), Department of Homeland Security Undergraduate Scholarship, research fellowships from the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Society of Physics Students, the American Physical Society, NASA, and multiple R.E.U. programs throughout the country.
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Last updated September 19, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sept. 2019
4 years
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Start Date
Sept. 2019
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Sept. 2019

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