Department of Physics
Duane Physics E1B32
T: 303-492-6953

During the freshman and sophomore years, students receive a broad introduction to physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and mathematical methods in physics. Starting in the sophomore year, students take electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, mathematical methods, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and advanced mathematics. In addition, there is a core of four laboratory courses that students take. Laboratory courses emphasize student-developed and student-designed independent projects in which students use the knowledge acquired to build apparatus of their own choosing. One of the capstone lab courses, PHYS 4430 , provides students with hands-on experience with optical spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, scanning tunneling microscopy, and laser cooling and trapping of atoms, among other experiments. The other capstone course, PHYS 4700, provides students an opportunity to gain professional and technical quantum science skills and experience through participation in real-world projects in collaboration with industry leaders and academic investigators.

The program encourages the formation of student research collaborations with faculty in the pursuit of senior thesis projects. Recent projects include research in pulsed laser deposition of high-temperature superconductors, electron diffraction studies of protein structure, and lattice distortion theory of colossal magnetoresistance materials.

Students who plan to become registered professional engineers should check the requirements for registration in their state before choosing their engineering major.

Note: Students may not earn a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the College of Arts & Sciences as well as a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the College of Engineering & Applied Science. Furthermore, the Physics minor may not be earned with either of these two baccalaureate programs.


Program Requirements

In order to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering physics, students must complete the curriculum in the undergraduate major program, as outlined below. For up-to-date program requirements, visit the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics webpage.

Note: Some variations may be possible; students are advised to see their Engineering Physics Academic Advisor.

In addition, students must meet the general undergraduate degree requirements of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Required Courses and Credits

Required Courses
PHYS 1115General Physics 1 for Majors4
or PHYS 1110 General Physics 1
PHYS 1125General Physics 2 for Majors4
or PHYS 1120 General Physics 2
PHYS 1140Experimental Physics 11
PHYS 2150Experimental Physics 21
PHYS 2170Foundations of Modern Physics3
PHYS 2210Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods 13
PHYS 3210Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods 23
PHYS 3220Quantum Mechanics 13
PHYS 3310Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 13
PHYS 3320Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 23
PHYS 3330Electronics for the Physical Sciences2
PHYS 4230Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 4410Quantum Mechanics 23
Upper-Division Physics Electives
Complete one of the three options listed in the next table.9
Required Chemistry Courses
CHEM 1113General Chemistry 14
or CHEN 1211 Accelerated Chemistry for Engineers
CHEM 1114Laboratory in General Chemistry 11
or CHEM 1221 Engineering General Chemistry Lab
CHEM 1133General Chemistry 24
CHEM 1134Laboratory in General Chemistry 21
Required Mathematics Courses
APPM 1350Calculus 1 for Engineers4
or MATH 1300 Calculus 1
or APPM 1345 Calculus 1 with Algebra, Part B
APPM 1360Calculus 2 for Engineers4
or MATH 2300 Calculus 2
APPM 2350Calculus 3 for Engineers4
or MATH 2400 Calculus 3
APPM 2360Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra4
or MATH 2130
MATH 3430
Introduction to Linear Algebra for Non-Mathematics Majors
and Ordinary Differential Equations
Upper-division mathematics or applied mathematics course.3
Required Engineering Courses25
Choose one of the following computer science courses:
Computer Science 1: Starting Computing
Introduction to Programming and Scientific Computing
Choose one additional course from the following computer science courses:
Computer Science 1: Starting Computing
Introduction to Programming and Scientific Computing
Engineering Drawing
Computer-Aided Design and Fabrication
Second CSCI course at the 2000 level or above.
Choose 17 to 19 credits in courses other than those listed as required above. Must be offered by CEAS departments. 1
Humanities, Social Sciences and Writing
Complete the College's Humanities, Social Sciences and Writing requirements. 218
Free Electives
Choose at least 11 credit hours of free electives to meet the minimum 128 credit hours required for the BS degree.11
Total Credit Hours128

Upper-Division Physics Electives

The selection of course offerings changes each semester. See the Engineering Physics Advising Guide for an up-to-date selection.

Research/Lab Electives 1,23-6
Advanced Laboratory
Advanced Laboratory
Physics Honors 2
Physics Honors 2
Physics Honors 2
Quantum Forge I
Quantum Forge II
Independent Study 2
Other Upper-Division Physics Electives3-6
Energy and the Environment
Introduction to Quantum Computing
Plasma Physics
Introduction to Solid State Physics
Nuclear and Particle Physics
History and Philosophy of Physics
Teaching and Learning Physics
Cells, Molecules and Tissues: A Biophysical Approach
Introduction to Biophysics
Special Topics in Physics
Any PHYS graduate-level courses (5000 level or above), with permission of instructor.
Total Credit Hours9

Sample Four-Year Plan of Study

Below is a suggested schedule only. For a complete description of the engineering physics course requirements, visit the Department of Physics website.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
APPM 1350 Calculus 1 for Engineers 4
CSCI 1300 Computer Science 1: Starting Computing 1 4
PHYS 1115
General Physics 1 for Majors
or General Physics 1
Humanities or Social Science Elective 2 3
 Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
APPM 1360 Calculus 2 for Engineers 4
Select one of the following: 1 3
Engineering Drawing  
Computer-Aided Design and Fabrication  
Computer Science 2: Data Structures  
PHYS 1125
General Physics 2 for Majors
or General Physics 2
PHYS 1140 Experimental Physics 1 1
Humanities or Social Science Elective 2 3
 Credit Hours15
Year Two
Fall Semester
APPM 2350 Calculus 3 for Engineers 4
CHEM 1113 General Chemistry 1 4
CHEM 1114 Laboratory in General Chemistry 1 1
PHYS 2150 Experimental Physics 2 1
PHYS 2170 Foundations of Modern Physics 3
Engineering Electives 3 4
 Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
APPM 2360 Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra 4
PHYS 2210 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods 1 3
CHEM 1133 General Chemistry 2 4
CHEM 1134 Laboratory in General Chemistry 2 1
Engineering Electives 3 4
 Credit Hours16
Year Three
Fall Semester
PHYS 3210 Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods 2 3
PHYS 3310 Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 1 3
PHYS 3330 Electronics for the Physical Sciences 2
Engineering Elective 3 3
Humanities or Social Science Elective 2 3
Free Electives 2
 Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
PHYS 3220 Quantum Mechanics 1 3
PHYS 3320 Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 2 3
PHYS 4230 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
Upper Division Math or Applied Math elective 3
Physics Electives 4 3
Humanities or Social Science Elective 2 3
 Credit Hours18
Year Four
Fall Semester
PHYS 4410 Quantum Mechanics 2 3
Engineering Electives 3 3
Physics Electives 4 3
College-Approved Writing Course 5 3
Free Electives 3
 Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
Engineering Electives 3 8
Physics Electives 4 3
Humanities or Social Science Elective 2 2
Free Electives 3
 Credit Hours16
 Total Credit Hours128

Learning Outcomes 

Upon completing the program, students will acquire:

  • Knowledge of the basic subfields of physics (classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics), as well as at least one specialty area of application (e.g., condensed matter physics or optics).
  • The ability to apply major principles of physics towards solving problems in various subfields of physics, including the use of mathematical and computational tools as appropriate.
  • Skills in assembling and using experimental apparatus to conduct and analyze measurements of physical phenomena.
  • Knowledge of the role of systematic and random experimental errors, along with methods used to analyze experimental uncertainty and compare experiment with theory.
  • Skills in collaborating effectively, and communicating results of scientific inquiries verbally and in writing.

Bachelor's–Accelerated Master's Degree Program(s)

The bachelor's–accelerated master's (BAM) degree program options offer currently enrolled CU Boulder undergraduate students the opportunity to receive a bachelor's and master's degree in a shorter period of time. Students receive the bachelor's degree first, but begin taking graduate coursework as undergraduates (typically in their senior year).

Because some courses are allowed to double count for both the bachelor's and the master's degrees, students receive a master's degree in less time and at a lower cost than if they were to enroll in a stand-alone master's degree program after completion of their baccalaureate degree. In addition, staying at CU Boulder to pursue a bachelor's–accelerated master's program enables students to continue working with their established faculty mentors.

BS in Engineering Physics, MS in Physics

The BAM program in engineering physics aims to provide new opportunities for undergraduate engineering physics majors. The program is specifically addressed to engineering physics majors in the Department of Physics. The engineering physics major gives students a thorough grounding in theoretical physics, applied mathematics, and broad exposure to engineering topics, so that they are well prepared either to proceed with graduate work or with professional employment in either basic science or in applied fields.

For students interested in graduate studies, the BAM program in engineering physics allows for participation in graduate coursework and research in a broad range of areas. For students interested in immediate professional employment, this program would serve as a terminal degree program that qualifies students for a higher level of employment.

Admissions Requirements

In order to gain admission to the BAM program named above, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher and a physics major GPA of 3.30 or higher.
  • Have completed a minimum of 80 credit hours of coursework.
  • Completion of all MAPS requirements and no deficiencies remaining (students admitted to CU Boulder prior to Summer 2023 only).
  • Transfer students must have completed a minimum of 24 credit hours at CU Boulder.
  • Have a letter of support from a faculty advisor to complete master's level research.

Program Requirements

Students may take up to and including 12 hours while in the undergraduate program which can later be used toward the master’s degree. However, only six hours may be double counted toward the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Students must apply to graduate with the bachelor’s degree, and apply to continue with the master’s degree, early in the semester in which the undergraduate requirements will be completed.

If you are interested in the BAM degree program, please contact the Engineering Physics Faculty Director for more information.