Physics and astronomy students are driven to understand the nature of space, time, and matter from the quantum level to the outer reaches of the universe. They are intellectually curious, bright, and confident individuals preparing to make their mark in a wide range of careers.

Why Iowa?

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers challenging courses on a variety of subjects. You'll begin with courses that teach problem-solving skills, logical thinking, and technical skills. Advanced classes usually have 15-20 students, allowing a high level of individual attention.  As you progress, you'll have opportunities to do research or participate in one of the many internships available at national laboratories and other facilities.

Most students participate in research projects and work directly with faculty members. Students may earn course credit for research. Some funding is available for undergraduate research through individually funded faculty projects, the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates, and the department's Van Allen Research Grants. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Physics and astronomy graduates have mastered skills that are readily transferable to a number of fields. You might choose to work in research, engineering, software development, teaching, finance, biomedical research, or consulting.

About 70 percent of majors go on to graduate school in some of the best programs in the country. Many with a concentration in medical physics attend medical school.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Outside of class, you may join the Society of Physics Students, which is open to all students interested in the subject. The society coordinates field trips and activities that foster student-faculty interaction and scientific learning. 


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions, the Office of Student Financial Aid, and departmental websites are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


Students majoring in physics may earn a BA or a BS degree. 

In general, the BS program prepares students for graduate study in physics or astronomy and for research-related careers.

The BA program provides preparation for professional or graduate study, for careers in fields such as administration, business, and technical writing; or for secondary school teaching. BA students take fewer mathematics and physics courses and have a broader choice of electives.

In addition to course work for the major, students must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.

To learn about required course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors, review Physics and Astronomy in the General Catalog.  

Teaching Licensure

Review the College of Education's Science Education Program for information about the Teacher Education Program. Physics students may apply to a combined five-year degree program of Physics BA and Master of Arts in Teaching with science licensure.