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. Any Barrett student who is considering majoring or minoring in physics should contact the lead FHA for additional information: Ralph Chamberlin at

Here is a list of all of the five undergraduate degrees offered by the Department of Physics.

  1. BS in Physics. This traditional “professional” physics program is selected by a majority of our majors, and especially those who plan graduate work in physics. This option has the greatest concentration in physics of all of our program options.
  2. BS in Biophysics. Biophysics is concerned with biological phenomena using the tools and methodologies of physics. The BS degree in biophysics is interdisciplinary program, providing students with a working understanding of the important principles of physics, chemistry and biology that govern the moleculer processes of life.
  3. Secondary Education BS in Physics. Physics is the cornerstone of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. At ASU and nationally, the production of new physics teachers is far below the need. The shortage of highly qualified physics teachers in every state is an ongoing problem. This degree concentration is designed to produce more and better-qualified physics teachers.
  4. BA in Physics. The Bachelor of Arts in Physics is selected by students seeking dual degrees. This option works well for students who also plan on teaching at the high school level.
  5. Physics Minor. Our 24 credit hour minor program adds dimension to any major degree program. A physics minor also overlaps with university general studies SQ requirements, thus complimenting many other liberal arts and technical programs.
Download Guidelines: PDF icon bhc_honors_credit_in_physics_option_1.pdf

Faculty Honors Advisors

Ralph Chamberlin

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.