The department offers two major tracks, both fulfilling the bachelor of science (BS) degree. We also offer three minor programs.


Those students intending to major in physics should have a high school background that includes trigonometry, advanced algebra, chemistry and physics, as well as a good preparation in the arts and humanities. Students have an option during their freshman year to overcome some deficiencies in these areas. For any track, students preparing for employment in an interdisciplinary area (such as environmental, geophysical or energy study) can choose to add an appropriate minor or arrange a specific major program on an individual basis. Students interested in teaching physics in high school are encouraged to consider the CLAS educational studies minor in addition to their physics major.

Two Options

The Department of Physics offers various programs of study, or tracks, tailored to the specific career goals of its majors. Students should consult with a departmental advisor prior to choosing a track.

Track 1: Pure & Applied Physics

Pure and applied physics is intended for students preparing for graduate school, teaching careers, or careers in industry or applied physics.

Track 2: Biophysics & Medical Physics

Biophysics and medical physics is seen as a bridge to an advanced degree in the health sciences for those interested in medical research, admission to medical school, preparation for work in a hospital or clinic situation, or industrial jobs in biomedical instrumentation.

Laboratory Experience Included In Both Options

To enhance the employment options of physics graduates, the department is committed to providing students with opportunities for laboratory experience in a research environment.

BS General Requirements

  • All courses in the major must be taken for a letter grade; pass/fail grades will not apply.
  • Students must declare their intention to major in physics by the time they have completed 60 semester hours
  • Students must complete between 46 (Pure & Applied Physics Track) and 50 (Biophysics and Medical Physics) semester hours in physics and related topics
  • All tracks require 16 semester hours in math ancillary courses
  • At least 12 semester hours of the requirements for the major must be completed at UC Denver.
  • Students must earn a “C” (2.0) or higher in all courses used to satisfy degree requirements, with an overall minimum UC Denver Physics cumulative GPA of a 2.0.
  • Courses must be taken within 10 years of graduation
  • Physics courses taken at other colleges and universities must be approved by the UC Denver Physics advisor before they can be applied toward the major requirements.
  • A senior thesis, usually from participation in research, is required for all students wishing to graduate with departmental honors. A cumulative GPA in both Physics and overall at UC Denver must meet the following: cum laude > 3.25; magna cum laude > 3.50; suma cum laude > 3.75.
  • All majors are encouraged to consult a Physics major advisor annually and must meet with an advisor early in the semester they plan to graduate.
  • Students with transfer credit, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or CLEP credits must meet with a Physics major advisor for placement.
  • Students declared pre-health should also consult a Health Careers advisor.
  • In addition to the physics major requirements listed, students must meet all graduation requirements set by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students should consult the University Catalog and CLAS Advising Office for specific requirements.

Physics Majors Core Courses

Courses must be completed with a “C” (2.0) or higher and an overall CU Denver Physics cumulative GPA of a 2.0

  1. General Physics I: Calculus – Based (PHYS 2311 – 4)
  2. Applied Physics Laboratory I (PHYS 2351 – 1)
  3. General Physics II: Calculus –Based (PHYS 2331 – 4)
  4. Applied Physics Laboratory II (PHYS 2361 – 1)
  5. Vibrations and Waves (PHYS 2711 – 3)
  6. Modern Physics (PHYS 2811 – 4)
  7. Methods of Mathematical Physics (PHYS 3120 – 3)
  8. Junior Lab I (PHYS 3711 – 2)
  9. Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 3811 – 3)