Prospective Physics Majors

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Applying for UW Admissions

Prospective UW–Madison undergraduate students should apply to the College of Letters & Science. The Physics Department does not have a separate admissions process.

Visit Campus

There are visit and tour options for prospective freshmen students wishing to check out UW–Madison. Our department does not offer formal tours of our building, but you are welcome to stop by Chamberlin Hall and visit the Ingersoll Physics Museum.

Why Physics?

Download our undergraduate brochure to learn more about the Physics major at UW–Madison. More detailed information can be found in our Physics Majors Handbook.

Physics @ UW–Madison

Learn about the academic requirements and available courses in the UW–Madison Guide.

Declaring a Physics Major

Already a UW–Madison undergraduate and interested in declaring a Physics major?  You can explore the major.

What is Physics?

Physics is the science of the properties of matter, radiation, and energy in all forms. As such, it is the most fundamental of the sciences. It provides the underlying framework for the other physical sciences and engineering and for understanding physical processes in biological and environmental sciences.

WHY STUDY PHYSICS?

  • Intellectual Satisfaction. First, and foremost, physics satisfies our deep desire to understand how the universe works. Physics is interesting.
  • Intellectual Challenge. By striving for fundamental understanding, the physicist accepts the challenge to move past a merely descriptive approach of our world and probes deeply into how and why it works.
  • Physics Produces New Technology. Today’s esoteric physics research will become tomorrow’s technological advances.
  • Technical Expertise. Physicists exploit forefront technologies in their pursuits.
  • Flexibility. In a fast-paced and changing world, it is much more important to have a broad substantive education than to be trained in a specific skill. We teach people how to think, and how to apply and extend what they know to new types of problems.
  • Physics is Analytical and Quantitative. People who can reason analytically and quantitatively are essential for the success of almost any pursuit.

A degree in physics helps prepare students for employment in industry, research, government, and academia. A bachelor’s degree from the undergraduate physics program will provide an overall view of both classical and modern physics along with problem-solving ability and the flexibility to continue learning.

Your education can:

  • Prepare you for employment in industrial or governmental laboratories.
  • Prepare you for graduate studies for master’s or doctoral degrees in experimental or theoretical physics.
  • Provide a broad background for further work in other sciences, such as materials sciences, aerospace, astronomy, computer science, geophysics, meteorology, radiology, medicine, biophysics, engineering, and environmental studies.
  • Provide a science-oriented liberal education. This training can be useful in some areas of business administration, law, or other fields where a basic knowledge of science is useful.
  • Provide part of the preparation you need to teach physics. To teach physics in high school, you will also take education courses to become certified. You will need a doctoral degree to become a college or university professor.