The BS in physics at RIT is a four or five year program covering in depth the basic principles governing the structure and  behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy and the interactions of matter and energy. Optional topics range from condensed matter to cosmology. An experiential learning component in the form of a capstone research project undertaken in the final year is a degree requirement. Students also participate in advanced laboratory work and have opportunities to participate in faculty-led research projects.

To view a more detailed list of courses for this program, click here.
Rochester Institute of Technology College of Science

The curriculum begins with mathematics, science, and liberal arts courses covering the breadth of the discipline from condensed matter to cosmology. In the third or fourth years, advanced topics are introduced such as electricity, magnetism, and quantum mechanics. Students also participate in advanced laboratory work and a capstone project.

Undergraduate research experiences are available with professors throughout the College of Science and are highly encouraged. These opportunities enable students to practice real world lab application of the information they are studying. Cooperative Education is also highly recommended to gain experiences outside of RIT though not required for graduation. Academic Advisors and the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services are  available to assist in finding and scheduling co-ops.

Some physicists use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their physics knowledge to practical areas such as the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and medical equipment. They often design and perform science-based experiments, using sophisticated equipment, and then attempt to draw useful conclusions from their observations/analysis.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook) 

For jobs in basic research and development, a doctoral degree is usually required for physicists and astronomers. Those with bachelor’s degrees can work as technicians or research assistants in industrial environments including scientific labs, engineering, software development, and non-technical fields. Many with Ph.D.s in physics and astronomy ultimately teach in higher education.

(Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H and American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center) 


Graduates find employment opportunities with industrial, academic, and governmental agencies or continue their education in master's or doctoral programs in physics or physics-related areas such as astrophysics, biophysics, geophysics, atmospheric science, imaging science, and engineering. Students also may prepare for entry into medical, law, or business school.

Employment of physicists and astronomers is expected to grow by 14 percent, about as fast as average for all occupations through 2020. Federal research spending is the major source of physics-related and astronomy-related research funds, especially for basic research. Physicists will continue to be in demand in applied sciences like information technology or semiconductor technology. Those companies and research groups will open jobs to replace physicists and astronomers who retire or otherwise leave the occupation permanently. 

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.) 

BS-only: $42,700 (average); $32,000-$54,100 (range)

*Statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) for 2012-2013 graduates

Examples: Physicist, Technician, Research Assistant, Software (scientific) Developer, Teacher (secondary school), Engineer, Astronomer

Physicists and astronomers (astronomy is sometimes considered a subfield of physics) held about 26,000 jobs in 2010. Nearly one-third of physicists and astronomers worked for scientific research and development services firms. The Federal Government employed 25 percent, mostly in the U.S. Department of Defense, but also in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and in the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy. Other physicists and astronomers worked in colleges and universities in nonfaculty, usually research, positions, or for State governments, information technology companies, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing companies, or electronic equipment manufacturers. 

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.) 


Argonne National Laboratory, CFD Research Corporation, Cypress Semiconductor, GE Inspection Technologies, ITT Geospatial Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Micron Technologies, Motorola, NASA Glenn Research Center, RIT Carlson Center for Imaging Science, University of Maryland, Univ. of Rochester Lab for Laser Energetics, US Air Force, US Navy, Welch, and Allyn.