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What Is Physics?

Physics is the study of matter, energy, and their interactions with one another. Physics seeks to study the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the foundation of all other natural sciences, including chemistry, biology, oceanography, geography, and radiography. From the formation of the universe to the way that nanoparticles influence the natural world, physics seeks to answer the fundamental questions in nature.

Careers in Physics

With a bachelor degree in Physics students can pursue careers in research and development, engineering, medicine, law, business, and the military.

35% of graduates enroll in a physics or astronomy graduate program, 20% enroll in other STEM graduate programs like engineering or go to medical school or law school.

Over 40% of students join the workforce after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Physics. Common job titles for physics and engineering physics bachelor’s degree recipients include:

  • Applications Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Design Engineer
  • High School Physics Teacher
  • IT Consultant
  • Lab Technician
  • Laser Engineer
  • Optical Engineer
  • Research Associate
  • Software Developer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Technical Specialist
  • Web Developer

Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill


There are currently around 18,500 undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Of those, about 200 are physics majors. These students enjoy the benefits of:



  • Small class sizes (around 25 students per course)
  • Highly individualized attention and advising from faculty
  • Early exposure to cutting-edge research (UNC is ranked 8th in research activities among all U.S. public and private universities2)
  • An exceptional social network within the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and Visibility in Physics (ViP)

1Based on 2004 AIP statistics. More recent statistics show similar numbers.
2UNC News Facts & Figures, June 2016 –

Students and postdocs at UNC assembling the vacuum system for the Majorana Demonstrator Experiment. Majorana will probe the nature of the neutrino and attempt to determine if it is its own antiparticle. The Majorana experiment is being led by the group at UNC.


Curriculum and Degrees

dsc_0772We offer both a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Physics, both with varying degrees of specialization available. The Physics B.S. is more mathematically intensive, and is generally regarded as better suited for a the pursuit of further Physics or Astronomy education. The Physics B.A. includes less mathematical instruction and offers a bit more flexibility in incorporating other areas of study into the degree program. If you’re considering majoring in Physics, you can talk to one of our advisors about which path is right for you.

In addition to our degree programs, we also offer both a physics and an astronomy minor.

The UNC Course Catalog offers details on all paths of study related to the department.

Contact Information

Prof. Tamara Branca is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department. She can be reached at

Jhon Cimmino is the department’s Academic Affairs Coordinator, and provides student services assistance for undergraduates. He can be reached at 919.962.2078 or

If you are already a UNC student and a Physics major within the department, you may contact your advisor with questions:

Physics Advisors Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

For Students with last names or majors:

A – G

H – I, BS Astrophysics, BA Astronomy, Astronomy minors

J – P

Q – Z, BA Quantitative Finance

“Do Physics. Be Anything.” Testimonials