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Undergraduate Programs

Why choose a major in physics or astronomy?

Nd2Fe14hair: Image taken in research group of Prof. Ruslan ProzorovAn undergraduate degree in physics can prepare you for a variety of opportunities, especially in the industrial development and application of existing and emerging technologies. You may also choose physics as preparation for professional programs in medicine or law, or for a career as a science educator.

Our department has major research programs in condensed matter physics, elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, and biophysics. Undergraduates often work in these research groups to broaden their experience. Students who meet the necessary scholastic standards often continue their studies in a graduate program, where opportunities exist to explore and to contribute to the most recent developments in the field.

Regardless of your specific career plans, our undergraduate program will give you laboratory, computing, problem-solving, and communication skills valuable in any career.


Physics+ is our new undergraduate curriculum leading to the BS degree with a major in physics. All of the Physics+ Chipprograms include a common core of physics and mathematics courses. The specific path you choose beyond the core physics and math courses will depend on your interests and career goals. 

Physics+ Complete Program (PDF) Recommended for students planning on graduate studies in physics.

Physics+ Astronomy & Astrophysics Program (PDF) Recommended for students planning on graduate studies in astrophysics. Students may also want to complete a minor in astronomy.

Physics+ with Physics Education (PDF) Recommended for students interested in seeking certification for High School teaching in Physics.

Physics+ with Physics and Math Education (PDF) Recommended for students interested in seeking certification for High School teaching both in Physics and Math

The following program options are appropriate as part of a double major in another field. They are primarily for students ending their formal study of physics at the undergraduate level. 

Research group of Prof. Ruslan Prozorov at Iowa State University

Physics+ Aerospace Engineering (PDF)

Physics+ Biology (PDF)

Physics+ Chemistry (Organic Chemistry Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Chemistry (Inorganic Chemistry Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Computer Science (PDF)

Physics+ Data Science (PDF)

Physics+ Electrical Engineering  (PDF)

Physics+ Electrical Engineering (Communication Systems Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Electrical Engineering  (Control Systems Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Materials Engineering (PDF)Research group of Prof. Jigang Wang at Iowa State University

Physics+ Mechanical Engineering  (Systems Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Mechanical Engineering  (Heat and Fluids Focus) (PDF)

Physics+ Science Writing (PDF)

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) at Iowa State University. For current LAS requirements please see the LAS Curriculum page.

There is a Communication proficiency requirement. The department requires a grade of C or better in Prof Mayly Sanchez with graduate studentENGL 250 (or 250H), and a C- or better in ENGL 302, 305, 309, or 314. Students are also encouraged to study at least one foreign language.

Please see your advisor if you have questions about including physics as part of a double major.

Minor in physics

The department offers a minor in physics which may be earned by completing 20 credits in physics courses chosen as follows: Phys 241 (or 231), 242 (or 232), and 321; at least one credit of laboratory chosen from 321L, 322L, 310, 311, and 311T; other acceptable courses are 304, 306, 322, 361, 362, 364, 365, 421, 432, 461, 480, 481, and 496.

Minor in astronomy

The department offers a minor in astronomy which may Nebulabe earned by completing 15 credits chosen as follows: a total of 12-15 credits in Astro courses (must include Astro 344L, and may include one of Astro 120, Astro 150, or Astro 250); the remaining 3 credits (if applicable) can be chosen from among Physics 304, 321, 361, 362, 364, 365, 480, 481, 496, or AER E 351; 12 or more credits must be at the 300 level, and Astro 344L can be used to satisfy requirements for both the physics major and astronomy minor. A typical sequence of courses for the minor is: Astro 120 or 150, Astro 344L, Astro 342, Astro 346, and Astro 405.