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College of Arts and Sciences


Physics

Physics is the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.  More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.  Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, perhaps the oldest through its inclusion of astronomy.

Sir Isaac Newton was a physicist.  Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman were physicists, as well.  Stephen Hawking is probably the best-known living physicist.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of South Carolina is known for the strength of its research in both theoretical and experiment physics, and that research has a global impact:  its nuclear and particle physics groups are involved in cutting-edge international collaborations, while its theoretical groups in cosmology, quantum theory, and nuclear physics also have an international reputation.

A Bachelor of Science degree is offered with two possible tracks:

  • The General Major, which  provides a fundamental understanding of both experimental and theoretical physics
  • The new Applied Major, with a concentration in engineering physics that combines the science with engineering.  This track is designed for students who want to work in industrial or governmental laboratories upon completing their B.S. degree.

The number of physics jobs nationwide is expected to grow 14% between 2010 and 2020.  In 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in physics and astronomy had the lowest rate of unemployment in the nation:  just 0.3 percent.

 Physics majors can be teachers, or with an advanced degree, college professors.   Most physicists work in research and development areas in the private sector, the government, or at large research universities.  The largest employers of physicists are NASA and the Department of Defense.

For additional information, contact:  

Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, Associate Professor of Physics, 803-777-4650, jwilson@sc.edu

Visit our department's page.