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New Mexico State University
Department of Physics
Current Students

BS in Physics

A Bachelor of Science degree in physics at NMSU prepares a student well for graduate study in physics or geophysics, or for a variety of careers in research and teaching. Specialization in one of the emphasis areas should increase employability at the B.S. level.


Physics Courses Required by the Department

PHYS 150 Elementary Computational Physics
3 cr.
PHYS 213/213L Mechanics, and Experimental Mechanics
4 cr.
PHYS 214/214L Electricity and Magnetism, and Experimental Electricity and Magnetism
4 cr.
PHYS 217/217L Heat, Light, and Sound, and Experimental Heat, Light, and Sound
4 cr.
PHYS 315 Modern Physics
3 cr.
PHYS 315L Experimental Modern Physics
3 cr.
PHYS 395 Intermediate Mathematical Method for Physics
3 cr.
PHYS 451 Intermediate Mechanics I
3 cr.
PHYS 454 Intermediate Modern Physics I
3 cr.
PHYS 455 Intermediate Modern Physics II
3 cr.
PHYS 461 Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism I
3 cr.
PHYS 462 Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism II
3 cr.
PHYS 480 Thermodynamics
3 cr.
PHYS 471 OR PHYS 475 Advanced Laboratory
2 cr.
  Six additional credits in physics or geophysics numbered 300 or above
6 cr.

Mathematics Courses Required (Nondepartmental Requirements)

MATH 191G Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
4 cr.
MATH 192G Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
4 cr.
MATH 291G Calculus and Analytic Geometry III
3 cr.
MATH 392 Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations
3 cr.

Chemistry Courses Required (Nondepartmental Requirements)

CHEM 115 Principles of Chemistry I
4 cr.
CHEM 116 Principles of Chemistry II
4 cr.
or higher level courses

You must earn a C or better in your physics, mathematics and chemistry courses.

Viewing the Wider World Courses

Students at NMSU are required to take prior to graduating two courses from the Viewing a Wider World list in the Undergraduate Catalog. These courses are upper-division (300-400 level) General Education Courses, which you can recognize in the course listings by the "G" that follows the course number.

  • One of the courses must be in a college other than your own.
  • The other course may be taken within your home college, but this course
    • must be in a different department than your major's department
    • cannot be cross-listed with a course in your home-department
    • cannot be counted as one of the requirements for your major

Other Requirements

  • Some knowledge of a foreign language.
    This can be demonstrated e.g. with two years of one language in high school with a C or better or taking a foreign language course sequence, 111 and 112, for any language taught at NMSU. For other forms of certification please see the Undergraduate Catalog.
  • The total number of credits needs to be 128, including 48 upper-division courses.

For more information refer to the online Undergraduate Catalog.


Students who plan to pursue graduate study in physics or geophysics are strongly advised to take one or more senior-level courses in optics, nuclear physics, atmospheric physics, condensed matter physics, geophysics, or computational physics.

Students who plan to seek employment at the B.S. level are advised to take one of the following concentrations in addition to the general and departmental requirements. The program of study should be chosen by the student in consultation with an advisor. Some recommended courses are listed below.

Concentration: Applied Physics

The program of study in applied physics is planned by the student and the physics advisor and includes classes in electrical and mechanical engineering along with classes in computer science.

Concentration: Applied Optics

PHYS 370 Optics I
3 cr.
PHYS 470 Physical Optics
3 cr.
PHYS 471 Modern Experimental Optics
2 cr.
PHYS 478 Optical Sources, Detectors, and Radiometry
4 cr.
PHYS 479 Lasers and Applications
4 cr.

Concentration: Material Science

CH E 361 Engineering Materials
3 cr.
CHEM 461 Polymers, their Composites and Mechanical Behavior
3 cr.
PHYS 475 Advanced Physics Laboratory
3 cr.
PHYS 488 Condensed Matter Physics
3 cr.
PHYS 489 Introduction to Modern Materials
3 cr.

Concentration: Computational Physics

CS 147 OR
C S 167
Topics in Software Programming and Applications
C Programming
3 cr.
C S 171 Introduction to Computer Science
4 cr.
MATH 279 Introduction to Finite Mathematics
3 cr.
PHYS 476 Computational Physics
3 cr.

Concentration: Geophysics

GEOL 111G Survey of Geology
4 cr.
GPHY 330 Introduction to Geophysics
3 cr.
GPHY 451 Principles of Geophysics
3 cr.
GPHY 452 Explorations of Geophysics
3 cr.

BS in Physics - Possible Program of Study

Click to view larger version.

BS in Physics Suggested Flowchart


  • The introductory physics courses need to be taken in the sequence PHYS 213, PHYS 214, PHYS 217, PHYS 315. Please also note the co- or pre-requisites in mathematics.
  • PHYS 150 is only offered in Fall semesters, but can be taken any year.
  • 400-level physics courses can taken in a different order than shown here;
    note that PHYS 461/462 is a 2-semester sequence in Electricity & Magnetism and
    that PHYS 454/455 is a 2-semester sequence in Quantum Mechanics.
  • It is recommended that PHYS395 is taken before or at the same time as PHYS 461 or PHYS 454.
  • The General Education, VWW, Language, and Free electives can be rearranged in many ways; the order shown here is only a suggestion.
  • Advanced laboratories (PHYS 475 or PHYS 493 or PHYS 471) are offered in Fall and Spring semesters.
  • For information about the astronomy minor visit Astronomy - Undergraduate Studies.