Physics

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Our Program

PhysicsLook no further than the physics program to launch a diverse science career; one that offers a wide range of opportunities. At River Falls, students receive a hands-on approach to learning and participate in research as early as their freshman year.

Students may choose from a variety of options within the physics major to tailor the degree to fit their interests. These include the flexibility to double-major, focus on engineering or even teach physics and other sciences. Depending on their emphasis, students might take courses in electronics, optics, quantum physics, electricity and magnetism, acoustics, nuclear and particle physics, computer programming, mathematics (including calculus) and differential equations.

Classroom Innovation

In the classroom, physics students collaborate with faculty. Professors will present students with new and innovative ways to enhance learning. In the electronics class, for example, students submit videos rather than paper assignments. This helps students effectively communicate their work. There are also both on- and off-campus research opportunities for students at all levels. Every student must complete a research project in the senior year. By graduation, students will have gained extensive problem solving, analysis, technical and communication skills.

River Falls prepares students for graduate programs in physics and engineering (electrical, mechanical or civil), as well as material science and atmospheric sciences. The university offers electronics and engineering courses that are rarely found at schools without engineering programs.

The Dual Degree option at River Falls is also a popular option for students considering engineering fields. Through Dual Degree, students attend River Falls for three years and take advantage of small class sizes and research opportunities. They then transfer to either the University of Wisconsin-Madison or the University of Minnesota; to take engineering coursework for two years. Once completed, students receive two bachelor’s degrees - a physics (or chemistry) degree from UW-River Falls and an engineering degree from the partner school.

International Travel

Students have fantastic study abroad opportunities through River Falls. Ecuador, Sweden, Tunisia, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and China are just some of the locations where physics students have studied and conducted research. 

One program, in particular, has taken students all the way to Antarctica to work on the international IceCube Collaboration. In the past decade, approximately 50 River Falls students have worked on the project, helping to develop a new type of telescope at the South Pole.

Global. Innovative. Excellent.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls Physics Department is nationally recognized and among the top undergraduate programs in the United States. Here are just a few impressive statistics:

  • For the last 40 years, River Falls has been in the top 10 percent of all physics-producing undergraduate schools in the country.

  • River Falls is one of the top ten four-year schools for producing students who go on to receive Physics PhDs.

  • In 2010, the program has 22 graduates, the fourth highest for four-year schools in the United States that year.

  • The Society of Physics student organization is one of the largest in the nation and has been named an outstanding chapter by the national organization 14 of the last 15 years.

  • River Falls is one of two four-year universities in the international IceCube Collaboration of more than 40 institutions that built and operated a new type of telescope at the South Pole.

  • Physics and engineering alumni from River Falls are working and studying at leading companies and institutions like 3M, Twin Cities Signal and Banner Engineering and in PhD programs at Princeton, Michigan, Michigan State, UW-Madison and the University of Worcester in England.