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Physics

Pair with any bachelor’s degree

Through experiments and measurements, physics helps us understand the connections between everything—from matter and light—to energy and the universe. Widely considered the foundation of all the natural sciences, a background in physics opens the door to a variety of career opportunities.

Program Overview

Learn about the fundamental laws of the universe through the principles of physics.

Physicists are concerned with understanding the way nature operates: the basic components of the universe and how they interact. Through coursework in astronomy, meteorology, energy and the environment, you’ll learn about motion, force and energy and how to use these concepts to explain everything from the simple motion of a hockey puck to the complexities of quantum mechanics. The program will impart both a fundamental understanding of the principles of physics and the analytical skills you’ll need to enhance a major in any discipline.

Observing motion

Students observe how silicone particles move on a flat surface that is exposed to sound waves of different frequencies during a PHYS 200 lab.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

The Physics Minor consists of a minimum of 29 credits:

MATH 151Calculus I (GT-MA1)4
MATH 251Calculus II4
MATH 252Calculus III4
PHYS 320Modern Physics3
Select one of the following:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 171
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 200
PHYS 201
General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
6 credits of the following:6
PHYS 250
Statics
PHYS 251
Dynamics
Or Physics courses number 300 or above
Total Credits29
 Fall (odd years) Spring (even years)
PHYS 110 Astronomy PHYS 120 Meteorology PHYS 125 Energy and the Environment PHYS 140 Conceptual Physics (with lab) PHYS 170 Introductory Physics I (with lab) PHYS 200 General Physics I (with lab) PHYS 320 Modern Physics PHYS 350 Electricity and MagnetismPHYS 110 Astronomy PHYS 115 Physics of Music PHYS 125 Energy and the Environment PHYS 140 Conceptual Physics (with lab) PHYS 171 Introductory Physics II (with lab) PHYS 201 General Physics II (with lab) PHYS 330 Classical Mechanics
Fall (even years)Spring (odd years)
PHYS 110 Astronomy PHYS 120 Meteorology PHYS 125 Energy the and the Environment PHYS 140 Conceptual Physics (with lab) PHYS 170 Principles of Physics I (with lab) PHYS 200 General Physics I (with lab) PHYS 320 Modern Physics PHYS 462 Astrophysics or PHYS 497 – Special topicsPHYS 110 Astronomy PHYS 125 Energy the and the Environment PHYS 140 Conceptual physics (with lab) PHYS 171 Principles of Physics II (with lab) PHYS 201 General Physics II (with lab) PHYS 330 Classical Mechanics

Spotlight

Physics

Eric Loewen

Alumni

“It’s a wonderful thing about Western,” Eric Loewen says, “you learn early on that relationships make the difference.”

Careers

Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.

Scholarships

Eligibility

  • Applied or accepted Western student
  • Student is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences
  • Applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
  • Demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics
  • Preference should be given to entering freshmen, however all classes are eligible
  • Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income
  • No preference shall be given based on the sex of the applicant
  • Preference will be given to applicant from Delta County, CO. or the Western Slope of Colorado

Description

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected By: The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application:

Contact the Mathematics & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128
Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 | Paul Wright Gym 201.

Eligibility

  • Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors)
  • Must be declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
  • Must maintain at least 3.2 GPA
  • Recipients must follow Casey’s example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Description

this scholarship is provided by the gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey’s parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 minimum
  • Demonstrate financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Description

This scholarship is provided by the gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker, who both served Western and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western’s then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 15 for 2021. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Board, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.

Apply

Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming freshman or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found here (click). Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.

Apply

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Expand your community and your network.

There are so many ways that you can maximize your educational experience at Western. Take advantage of these opportunities to advance your career.

  • Competition: Western students built a Mars rover-like robot for NASA’s Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge.
  • Gunnison Valley Observatory: Faculty and students use this sophisticated facility for research and teaching.
  • Independent Projects: Students are encouraged to work on projects and conduct research with Physics faculty.

Building the future

Students look on as at their creation—a self-navigating, Mars-Rover-like robot—competes with similar devices from other colleges at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

News & Research

online courses

Western Colorado University moves summer courses online

Read More about Western Colorado University moves summer courses online

Department Chairperson

Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Administrative Assistant

Samantha Siegfried

Administrative Assistant for NES

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Hurst Hall 128
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

Take the Next Step

Apply to Western

Apply to Western

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Visit Western

Visit Western

The best way to find out what makes Western such a special place is to experience it for yourself. Our student-led tours give you an insider’s perspective on everything from academics to student life.

Alumni Community

Alumni Community

We keep the Mountaineer spirit going strong within our alumni community. Whether getting together with friends at an annual event, making a donation or mentoring a student, graduates continue to play an important role in the Western community.