The Department of Physics and Astronomy provides a range of opportunities for undergraduates, from introductory courses for the non-scientist, to a minor in physics or physics and astronomy, and complete degree programs leading to the BA and BS in physics or in physics and astronomy (astrophysics).

Majoring in Physics or Physics and Astronomy

Students have until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major. However, students wishing to major in physics or in physics and astronomy should meet with the department’s undergraduate office before the end of their sophomore year to be assigned a departmental advisor.

All lectures are typically given by our full-time faculty. Graduate students and upper-class majors assist with workshops, recitation sections, and labs.

Our program is flexible enough that our students can pursue a dual major, pre-med, pre-law, or teacher certification programs.


Each year a sizeable fraction of our upper-class majors are involved in faculty-sponsored research projects through the department's NSF funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Student Life

Our undergraduates are also active in academic, social, research and outreach activities outside of the classroom and research labs.

Society of Physics Students (SPS)

Many student-oriented and community outreach activities are organized through the University's chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), a national organization affiliated with the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

The SPS sponsors lectures by the faculty on topics of current interest, co-sponsors the annual SPS/department colloquium by a distinguished visiting scientist, hosts the annual department picnic in the spring, and offers tutoring services for the introductory physics and astronomy courses.

SPS has been awarded the Outstanding or Distinguished Chapter award from the national organization for the past five years running.

Astronomy Club

Our award winning Astronomy Club is designed for anyone with an interest in astronomy, be it observational astronomy, astrophysics, or just a desire to ponder the big questions of the cosmos. The club aims to make good of use of university facilities, such as the Mees Observatory, to give everyone an opportunity to experience the night sky in a new way. The club also brings speakers on a variety of topics and promotes naked eye stargazing.

In 2017 the Club was awarded the Excellence in Programming Award from the University of Rochester for their annual Earth Hour event

The Kapitza Society

The Kapitza Society is the undergraduate physics society named after the late, great Soviet physicist Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitza. The purpose of this society is to encourage the study of theoretical physics among the undergraduate students at the University of Rochester. The faculty sponsors of the society are Alex Iosevich (Mathematics) and S. G. Rajeev (Physics and Mathematics).

Rochester Symposium for Physics Students

The Department of Physics and Astronomy sponsors the Rochester Symposium for Physics Students (RSPS). This Northeast regional undergraduate research conference is held each year, typically in the latter half of the spring semester.

Resources for Minority Students


Questions may be addressed to our undergraduate program coordinator, Lysa Wade at ugcoordinator@pas.rochester.edu.