Grainger College of Engineering


What is Physics?

Physics is the study of nature that focuses on the properties of matter, energy, space, and time. It is the branch of science that forms the foundation of all natural sciences. Physics is the science behind many everyday technologies, including computers, cell phones, and supermarket scanners. It is also the foundation of great breakthroughs such as lasers, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particle accelerators, fiber-optic communications, and many others. Physics majors at the University of Illinois earn a Bachelor of Science in Physics. The major provides you with the tools to investigate and analyze scientific mysteries. You'll also develop a deep conceptual and mathematical understanding of the world. Our flexible program will prepare you for a variety of careers, including teaching. It will also allow you to continue your education through graduate study in physics, science, or engineering fields. The curriculum provides a rigorous foundation in physics, mathematics, and laboratory techniques. The comprehensive elective options allow you to tune your individual program of study to suit your interests and career goals.

Career Options

  • Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Medicine
  • Teaching

Post-Graduation Success1

88% employed or continuing education

39% employed after graduation

49% attending graduate school

$62,989 average starting annual income

Sample employer destinations: Goldman Sachs, Intel, National Institutes of Health (NIH) View All

Sample grad school destinations: Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University View All

Review Criteria

First-Year Major-Specific Criteria

  • Strong math and science coursework and performance
  • Calculus preferred and physics expected (if available at high school)
  • Strong teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Interest in improving society through engineering
  • Demonstrated understanding of and interest in the engineering major selected

View All Review Criteria

Transfer Criteria

Transfer Guide

Graduation & Retention2

4.0 years to degree

93% first-year retention rate

71% four-year graduation rate

86% six-year graduation rate

Annual Program Costs3

Illinois Resident

  • Tuition: $17,976
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses: $18,222
  • Total: $41,126


  • Tuition: $39,736
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses:$18,562
  • Total: $63,226


  • Tuition: $42,868
  • Fees: $4,928
  • Expenses: $18,562
  • Total: $66,358