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The department offers an undergraduate certificate in physics. An understanding of the physical universe informs many disciplines. The study of physics is essential to understanding nature and to advancing technology in the coming century. A certificate in physics increases the opportunities for students to become better informed on technological issues at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The certificate is designed to serve undergraduates majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, education and other fields who wish to extend their study of physics beyond what may be required or recommended for their major without completing the full L&S physics major requirements.

To declare a certificate in physics, students must fill out a major/certificate declaration form. An undergraduate physics advisor must sign the form. The form to declare the certificate can be obtained at the Physics departmental office. All undergraduate students are eligible to declare the certificate, except those declared in the following majors: Physics, Astronomy-Physics, and Applied Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics (AMEP).

Certificate Requirements

The physics certificate requires 18 credits of Intermediate or Advanced level undergraduate PHYSICS courses, with the following restrictions:

  • At least 9 of the credits must be in residence.
  • At most one course from each of the three semesters of an introductory sequence can be counted.
  • At most 3 credits of directed study can be counted.
  • Only graded courses may be used toward the certificate.
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.000 is required in all certificate courses.
First Introductory Course (complete only one):5
A Modern Introduction to Physics (recommended)
General Physics
General Physics
and Dynamics 1
and Dynamics 1
Second Introductory Course (complete only one):5
A Modern Introduction to Physics (recommended) 2
General Physics
General Physics
Third Introductory Course (complete only one):3-4
A Modern Introduction to Physics (recommended) 2
Modern Physics for Engineers
Introduction to Solid State Electronics
Introduction to Modern Physics
Directed Study (optional, maximum 3 credits)0-3
Directed Study
Directed Study
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Additional Intermediate and Advanced PHYSICS courses1-5
Introduction to Medical Physics
Physics Today
Intermediate Laboratory-Mechanics and Modern Physics
Electric Circuits and Electronics
Electromagnetic Fields
Electromagnetic Fields
Acoustics for Musicians
Advanced Laboratory
Thermal Physics
Atomic and Quantum Physics
Atomic and Quantum Physics
Scientific Background to Global Environmental Problems
Radiation Physics and Dosimetry
Introduction to Plasmas
Plasma Confinement and Heating
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Introduction to Particle Physics
Introduction to Atomic Structure
Solid State Physics
Microscopy of Life
Electronic Aids to Measurement
Applied Optics
Total Credits18

A maximum of 5 credits from E M A 201, E M A 202 and M E 240 count toward the 18 credits required for the certificate.


 Students may not transfer into the PHYSICS 247 - PHYSICS 248 - PHYSICS 249 sequence from another introductory sequence.


This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. Understand basic physical principles.
  2. Solve problems proficiently using both quantitative and qualitative applications of these physical principles.
  3. Know how to perform quantitative measurements of physical phenomena and understand the statistical significance of observations made in the presence of statistical and systematic uncertainties.
  4. Be prepared for graduate study and/or careers in STEM fields.
  5. Communicate effectively with scientific peers and the public, both orally and in writing.

Physics Undergraduate Advisors

Professor Tulika Bose
Professor Jan Egedal
Professor Deniz Yavuz

Scheduling an Advising Appointment WITH A PHYSICS MAJOR ADVISOR:

To meet with a Physics major advisor, you may either email or contact them directly.

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Yang Bai, Professor

Baha Balantekin, Eugene P. Wigner Professor

Vernon Barger, Vilas Professor and Van Vleck Professor

Keith Bechtol, Assistant Professor

Uwe Bergmann, Martin L. Perl Endowed Professor in Ultrafast X-Ray Science

Kevin Black, Professor, Associate Chair for Graduate Program

Stas Boldyrev, Professor

Tulika Bose, Professor

Victor Brar, Van Vleck Assistant Professor

Duncan Carlsmith, Professor

Daniel Chung, Professor

Sridhara Dasu, Professor

Jan Egedal, Professor

Mark Eriksson, Department Chairperson and John Bardeen Professor of Physics

Lisa Everett, Professor

Ke Fang, Assistant Professor

Cary Forest, Prager Professor of Experimental Physics

Pupa Gilbert, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor

Francis Halzen, Gregory Breit Professor and Hilldale Professor

Kael Hanson, Professor, WIPAC Director

Aki Hashimoto, Professor

Matthew Herndon, Professor

Robert Joynt, Professor

Albrecht Karle, Professor, IceCube Associate Director, Science and Instrumentation

Shimon Kolkowtiz, Assistant Professor

James Lawler, Arthur and Aurelia Schawlow Professor

Alex Levchenko, Professor

Lu Lu, Assistant Professor

Dan McCammon, Professor

Robert McDermott, Professor

Moritz Cornelius Muenchmeyer, Assistant Professor

Marshall Onellion, Professor

Yibin Pan, Associate Professor

Brian Rebel, Associate Professor

Mark Rzchowski, Associate Chairperson and Professor

Mark Saffman, Professor

John Sarff, Professor

Gary Shiu, Professor

Paul Terry, Professor

Peter Timbie, Professor

Justin Vandenbroucke, Associate Professor

Maxim Vavilov, Professor

Thad Walker, Professor

Sau Lan Wu, Enrico Fermi Professor and Vilas Professor

Deniz Yavuz, Professor

Ellen Zweibel, William L Kraushaar Professor of Astronomy & Physics