Physics is a science that is fundamental to all sciences and uses mathematics as its language. Because of the role that science plays in our technological society, it is necessary that students be trained in the sciences, with physics playing a core role. The Discipline of Physics seeks to provide the necessary physics experiences via formal coursework, laboratory training, and research to give students the requisite skills of a well-educated liberal arts major. The program articulates the mission of the University through emphasis on physics and related scientific areas.

Specific goals of the Department are:

  1. To provide activities and courses of instruction in physics and related areas to meet the mission of the University and the Department of Life and Physical Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Business
  2. To provide activities and courses of instruction in physics and related areas to meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate  ( see School of Graduate Studies) physics majors.
  3. To encourage the creation of new knowledge by performing outstanding research.

Students who complete the physics major will be able to:

  • demonstrate scholarship by communicating basic knowledge in physics orally as well as in writing, and by participating in department research programs;
  • relate the importance of physics to other areas of knowledge;
  • apply the knowledge gained to the solution of problems related to various disciplines; and
  • be able to compete in a quality graduate program upon receipt of the undergraduate degree or to enter the work force and perform in a competent and competitive manner.

The undergraduate offerings in physics meet a variety of student needs. Some students seek the B.A. degree with a major in physics; others seek the B.S. degree; still others pursue joint majors combining physics with another discipline. In addition, a number  of Fisk students have pursued dual degrees in physics and engineering offered in collaboration with Vanderbilt University.

  1. B.A. in Physics
  2. Active Research Program
  3. Dual Degree
  4. B.S. in Physics

Requirements for the B.A. in physics, in addition to the University degree requirements , are:

Courses in physics--32 credits as follows:

Course NumberCourse Name
PHYS 110, 120Physics Seminars
PHYS 130 and 130LUniversity Physics I/Experiments I
PHYS 140 and 140LUniversity Physics II/Experiments II
PHYS 340Methods in Theoretical Physics
PHYS 341Theoretical Mechanics
PHYS 351Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism

And additional coursework in physics, as approved by the department, such that the student achieves the required total of 32 semester hours of study in the discipline. These additional courses must be at the 200 level or above.

Required cognates--12 credits:

Course NumberCourse Name
MATH 120, 130, 210Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III
CSCI 110/110L Introduction to Computer Science I /Lab

The department strongly recommends that students' elective studies include:

Course NumberCourse Name
CHEM 113/103LGeneral Chemistry I (& Lab)
CHEM 114/104L General Chemistry II (& Lab (and Lab)
CSCI 120/120L Intro to Computer Science II (and Lab)

Physics at Fisk University  carries on an active research program in such areas as infrared and Raman spectroscopy, crystal growth, chemical physics, plasma physics, and surface physics, recognized by continuing funding from   NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and industry. With its Center for Physics and Chemistry of Materials, Fisk is among the very few undergraduate institutions at which the National Science Foundation has chosen to establish a Center of Excellence. Graduate, providing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to be involved as collaborators in faculty research, presenting data in publications and at national meetings.

The Fisk/Vanderbilt Dual Degree program is a five-year program that allows a student to earn both a Bachelor's Degree from Fisk with a science major plus a Bachelor's Degree from Vanderbilt in engineering. We also have a concentration in astrophysics and space science, taught jointly by Fisk and Vanderbilt professors. Students choosing this option will also be directed to summer research internships in astrophysics

Requirements for the B.S. in physics are similar to those for the B.A. degree, with the following exceptions and variations:

Eight additional hours in physics are required for the B.S. degree, beyond the 32 required for the B.A.
These are to be selected, subject to approval of the Advisor and the Discipline Coordinator of Physics, from among courses in physics numbered 200 and above.

The University foreign language requirement does not apply for the B.S. degree in physics