The College

The Department of Physics offers five undergraduate degree options: BS in Physics, BA in Physics, BS in Biophysics, BS in Physics (Secondary Education), and a Minor in Physics. Physics is the broadest science, and the foundation of all engineering. Thus, physics majors are trained at a fundamental level in a broad range of topics, and physics graduates find work in many diverse areas. Additional information can be found at Any Barrett student who is considering majoring or minoring in physics should contact the lead FHA for additional information: Ralph Chamberlin (

Download Guidelines: PDF icon bhc_faculty_research_2020.pdf

Faculty Honors Advisors

Ralph Chamberlin
FHA Office Hours: 
T Th 10-11 AM, or by appointment

Thesis/Creative Projects: 

A physics thesis for the Barrett Honors College generally involves research in an area of interest to the student that overlaps with research on campus. Research may involve experiments, theory, computer simulations, or a mixture of these broad methods of research. The research may be closely guided by the thesis director, or the director may primarily provide general guidelines for the independent research of the student. Ideally the thesis will yield publishable results that will greatly benefit a student in her/his future career in graduate school, and beyond.

Academic Preparation: 

Most physics research involves advanced topics that require a firm grasp of physics fundamentals. Students interested in theoretical physics should excel in all lower-division courses (PHY 201/252), and should be well-prepared for (or currently taking) the upper-division courses (PHY 302/310/314). Students interested in experimental physics should be comfortable with the topics and skills learned in the upper-division laboratories (PHY 333/334). Experience with computers (especially programming) and/or machining skills (mechanical instruments) are very desirable for physics research, and can often help students find productive employment early during their time at ASU.

Other Honors Opportunities: 

Honor’s only courses: The Department of Physics has only one sequence of courses designated for BHC students, PHY 121H/131H; but these courses are usually not recommended for physics majors. The PHY121H/131H sequence is for BHC students with a wide spectrum of interests, including chemistry, life sciences, and engineering. Most physics majors should take the PHY150/151 sequence instead. Because the PHY150/151 sequence is for physics majors only, the chosen topics and the depth of coverage are tailored towards those who plan careers in physics. The relatively small number of BHC physics majors each year does not allow us to offer separate honors sections for the PHY150/151 sequence. Nevertheless, BHC students can receive honors credit in PHY150 and/or PHY151 via the Honor’s Enrichment Contract. 

Honor’s Enrichment Contracts: Most faculty members in the Department of Physics are enthusiastic about directing Honor’s Enrichment Contracts for the BHC students in their classes. These contracts will often involve additional projects, which are to be completed during the semester with the guidance of the faculty member. Most faculty also welcome input from the students on how they could further explore the ideas presented in the class. Any interested student should contact the professor as soon as possible at the start of the semester. Additional information can be found by following this link: 

Honors credit for key physics classes: Two of the core courses in the physics-majors’ curriculum have been designated to receive honors credit. BHC students who successfully complete PHY 201 (Mathematical Methods in Physics I) and PHY 333 (Electronic Circuits and Measurements I) will receive honors credit for these classes. Specifically, 3 hours of lower-division honors credit are given for PHY 201 and 3 hours of upper-division honors credit are given for PHY 333. These courses are required in the standard sequence of classes taken by most physics majors.  

The Department of Physics does not offer a separate course for BHC thesis preparation. Therefore, honors physics majors should participate in a preparation course offered by the BHC before registering for HON 492 or 493. Additional information can be found at

The Department of Physics has adopted the minimum requirements of the BHC for the honors project thesis committee. Specifically: “The minimum number of committee members will be two, a director and second committee member, and only the director MUST be an ASU faculty member (lecturer or tenure-line).” Students should consult their thesis director or the FHA for Physics for recommendations regarding this committee.