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    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    Nov 30, 2022  
2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog 
2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics and Astronomy

         Major Requirements 

              Minor Requirements 


Soren P. Sorensen, Head

Barnes, F.E. (Joint Faculty), PhD - California
Bingham, C.R., PhD - Tennessee
Breinig, M.J., PhD - Oregon
Compton, R.N., PhD - Tennessee
Crater, H.W. (UTSI), PhD - Yale
Dagotto, E.R. (Distinguished Professor), PhD - Bariloche (Argentina)
Dai, P., PhD - Missouri
Davis, L. (UTSI), PhD - Auckland (New Zealand)
Eguiluz, A.G. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Brown
Elston, S.B., PhD - Massachusetts
Greene, G.L. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Harvard
Guidry, M.W., PhD - Tennessee
Handler, T., PhD - Rutgers
Kamychkov, I., PhD - ITEP (Russia)
Levin, J.C., PhD - Oregon
Macek, J. (Distinguished Professor), PhD - Rensselaer Polytechnic
Moreo, A. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Bariloche (Argentina)
Nazarewicz, W., PhD - Warsaw (Poland)
Painter, L.R. (Special Assistant to the Chancellor), PhD - Tennessee
Quinn, J.J. (Lincoln Chair), PhD - Maryland
Read, K.F. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Cornell
Riedinger, L.L. (Interim Vice Chancellor for Research), PhD - Vanderbilt
Siopsis, G., PhD - California Institute of Technology
Sorensen, S.P., PhD - Copenhagen (Denmark)
Thompson, J.R., PhD - Duke
Weitering, H.H. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Groningen (Netherlands)
Zhang, Z. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Rutgers
Associate Professors
Efremenko, Y.Y. (Joint Faculty), PhD - ITEP (Russia)
Grzywacz, R., PhD - Warsaw (Poland)
Papenbrock, T.F. (Joint Faculty), PhD - Heidelberg (Germany)
Parigger, C. (UTSI), PhD - Otago (New Zealand)
Spanier, S.M., PhD - Mainz (Germany)
Assistant Professors
Cardall, C.Y. (Joint Faculty), PhD - California
Jones, K.L., PhD - Surrey (England)
Joo, J., PhD - Rutgers
Mannella, N., PhD - California (Davis)
Director of Undergraduate Laboratories
Parks, J.E., PhD - Kentucky


Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions from microscopic to macroscopic regimes. It is the most fundamental physical science in the sense that the laws of physics form the foundation of all natural sciences. The undergraduate physics major provides a thorough introduction to the core areas of physics while offering students flexibility to pursue special interests through our academic, applied, or general concentrations. The academic concentration is intended for students interested in professional employment or graduate work in physics or closely related fields such as astronomy, engineering, laser technology, or computational science. The applied concentration introduces students to the physics and technology of today and tomorrow. Such a broad physics background is increasingly useful in technological and industrial fields outside of physics. The astronomy concentration is designed for students who may wish to do graduate work in astronomy or astrophysics. The general concentration is intended for students who wish to apply a  substantial knowledge of physics to fields such as secondary education, medicine, law, journalism, business, or any field of their choice.


Students pursuing a B.S. degree in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are eligible to participate in the University’s VolsTeach program (, which permits students to simultaneously complete a major in mathematics or science and receive secondary education teaching licensure within the 4-year undergraduate degree program through completion of a VolsTeach minor. For more information about VolsTeach, including advising associated with teaching licensure requirements, contact the Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Science (100 Greve Hall).

Five-Year BS/MS with Physics Minor

Qualified students completing a BS degree from a department of the College of Engineering or the College of Arts and Sciences may add a physics minor by completing the requirements listed below. Six hours of 400-level courses required for a minor in physics combined with a BS engineering degree may be applied toward a master’s degree (project option or non-thesis option) in physics during a fifth year following the award of the BS. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for an undergraduate program. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work. Conditional admission may be granted after completing the required 100- and 200-level requirements for the minor while full admission is granted after enrolling in the final semester of courses required for all BS and minor course requirements with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking graduate courses for both their minor and master’s degree. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate program director. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.


       Major Requirements 

              Minor Requirements