Applied Physics/Pre-Engineering

Bachelor of Science

Through the applied physics major, you’ll learn about the nature of the universe from energy and matter to motion and space. Students do hands-on work in cutting-edge laboratory settings to understand the relevance of these laws and theories in a practical sense and consider how to implement them into your future projects as an engineer.

Program Overview

Upgrade your gray matter.

Physicists are concerned with understanding the fundamental laws of nature and how to apply those laws in a practical way. Physics is a rewarding area of study because it provides a basis for understanding the natural world and modern technology, and satisfies intellectual curiosity. The Physics curriculum at Western provides opportunities for students to take course work that supports other scientific and technical disciplines, to complete an academic major or minor, or to prepare for physics and engineering programs at other institutions.

Going Beyond the Classroom

Strengthen your resume by participating in engaging extracurricular activities such as NASA’s Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge.


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.

Code Title Credits Description
CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (GT-SC2) 3 View
CHEM 112 General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1) 1 View
CHEM 121 General Chemistry for Engineers 3 View
CHEM 451 Physical Chemistry I 3 View
CS 190 Computer Science I 3 View
CS 191 Computer Science II 3 View
ENGR 131 Introduction to Engineering Design 3 View
ENGR 161 Computer-Aided Design 3 View
ENGR 265 Engineering as a Profession 1 View
ENGR 363 Mechanics of Solids 3 View
MATH 151 Calculus I (GT-MA1) 4 View
MATH 251 Calculus II 4 View
MATH 252 Calculus III 4 View
MATH 354 Differential Equations 3 View
PHYS 170 Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4 View
PHYS 171 Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4 View
PHYS 200 General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4 View
PHYS 201 General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4 View
PHYS 250 Statics 3 View
PHYS 251 Dynamics 3 View
PHYS 320 Modern Physics 3 View
PHYS 330 Classical Mechanics 3 View
PHYS 335 Fluid Mechanics 3 View
PHYS 350 Electricity and Magnetism I 3 View
PHYS 351 Electricity and Magnetism II 3 View
PHYS 452 Quantum Mechanics 3 View
PHYS 495 Physics Capstone 1 View


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.



  • 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


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128


  • 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


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.


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

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

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

Get Involved

Get Involved

Your student experience doesn’t end in the classroom at Western. Learn more about opportunities you can pursue to enhance your understanding of content, make peer and professional connections, and build your resume before graduating.

  • BalloonSAT: Design a satellite mission to the edge of space
  • Competition: Western students built an automated 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.

Understanding Through Action

In the Applied Physics program, you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your classroom knowledge through interactive labs in most of the courses you’ll take.

Department Chairperson

Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Administrative Assistant

Samantha Siegfried

Administrative Assistant for NES

Contact Information


Campus Location

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