Physics BS, Biophysics Emphasis

The study of astrophysics aims to understand the universe and everything within it in terms of the fundamental nature of forces and particles. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UMSL is devoted to providing undergraduates with a broad-based education in astrophysics with the experimental, observational, and theoretical skills essential to practicing astronomers and astrophysicists. Undergraduate education in astrophysics prepares students for both graduate study and professional careers in astronomy, atmospheric science, image processing, cosmology, and instrumentation.

General Education Requirements

Majors must complete the university and college general education requirements. Any of the following courses may be used to satisfy the physical science requirement:

ASTRON 1001Cosmic Evolution Introductory Astronomy3
ASTRON 1011Planets and Life in the Universe3
ASTRON 1012The Violent Universe and the New Astronomy3
ASTRON 1050Introduction to Astronomy I (MOTR ASTR 100)3
ASTRON 1051Introduction to Astronomy II3
ATM SCI 1001Elementary Meteorology3
GEOL 1001General Geology3
GEOL 1002Historical Geology3
PHYSICS 1001How Things Work (MOTR PHYS 100)3
PHYSICS 1011Basic Physics I3
PHYSICS 1011LBasic Physics I Laboratory1
PHYSICS 1012Basic Physics II3
PHYSICS 1012LBasic Physics II Laboratory1
PHYSICS 2111Physics: Mechanics and Heat4
PHYSICS 2112Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics4

Declaring the Physics Major

Students seeking to major in physics are first designated as ‘pre-physics majors’ until they have completed both PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 or equivalent courses. Upon successful completion of PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 with grades of C- or better, students will be allowed to declare physics as their major. Each of these courses must be completed successfully within two attempts.

Degree Requirements

All physics majors in all programs must complete the physics core curriculum with the exception that majors pursuing the Physics Education option are not required to take PHYSICS 1099 and CMP SCI 1250. In addition to the core courses, each individual program has its own specific requirements. Required Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer Science courses for a major or minor in physics may not be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading basis.

Core Curriculum
The following physics courses are required: 23
Windows on Physics
Physics: Mechanics and Heat
Mechanics and Heat Laboratory
Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics
Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics Laboratory
Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics
Electricity and Magnetism
Introduction to Modern Physics I
Also required are: 26
Analytic Geometry and Calculus I
Analytic Geometry and Calculus II
Analytic Geometry and Calculus III
Introduction to Differential Equations
Introductory Chemistry I (MOTR CHEM 150L)
Introduction to Computing
Total Hours49

Note: Students are urged to begin the calculus sequence [MATH 1800, Analytic Geometry and Calculus I] as soon as possible to avoid delays in graduation.

Students with experience in digital computer programming may be excused from CMP SCI 1250.

Biophysics Option

This option is designed for students who are interested in careers in various medical fields or biophysics. This option provides a strong preparation in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology for students who intend to apply for admission to medical schools. At least 41 hours of physics and biology combined, but no more than 51, are required. In addition to the core curriculum, the following physics and biology courses are required:

PHYSICS 4310Modern Electronics3
PHYSICS 4347Introduction to Biophysics3
Select two additional physics electives at the 4000 level.6
BIOL 1831Introductory Biology: From Molecules to Organisms (MOTR BIOL 150L)5
BIOL 1821Introductory Biology: Organisms and the Environment (MOTR BIOL 150L)5
BIOL 4732Principles of Biochemistry3
or CHEM 4712 Biochemistry
BIOL 4713Techniques in Biochemistry2
CHEM 1121Introductory Chemistry II5
CHEM 2612Organic Chemistry I3
Total Hours35

Program Purpose

The purpose of the B.S. in Physics (Biophysics Emphasis) program at the University of Missouri at St. Louis is to prepare students for a professional career in biophysics, biological physics, or a related interdisciplinary field, for graduate studies in in biophysics, biological physics, or a related interdisciplinary field, for training as a medical physicist, or for professional training such as medical school.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of basic physics concepts including classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal and statistical physics, modern electronics, and quantum mechanics
  • Students will have an understanding of basic biological concepts, from organ systems to biochemistry
  • Students will have an understanding of the basic concepts of biophysics, and the various areas of interdisciplinary science where biophysics concepts and techniques are applicable
  • Students will be skilled in problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical reasoning as applied to scientific problems
  • Students will be proficient in both written and oral communication of the results of scientific work
  • Students will have the skills necessary for conducting original scientific research as part of an interdisciplinary problem-solving team
  • Students will have the skills necessary to identify possible errors in scientific data, and to assess the significance of observed results

Sample Four Year Plan 

First Year
INTDSC 100311CHEM 11215
PHYSICS 10991MATH 18005
CHEM 11115BIOL 18315
MATH 10303 
MATH 10352 
ENGL 11003 
 15 15
Second Year
MATH 19005MATH 20005
CMP SCI 12503CHEM 26123
BIOL 18215CORE - US History and Government3
 18 16
Third Year
MATH 20203PHYSICS 43413
BIOL 4732 or CHEM 47123BIOL 47132
CORE - Communication Proficiency3EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 15 14
Fourth Year
PHYSICS 43313EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3
ENGL 31603EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
Cultural Diversity Requirement3EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 15 15
Total Hours: 123

Please Note: This plan is an example of what a four year plan could look like for a typical student. Placement exam scores in math as well as the completion of coursework may change the plan. It should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester. All requirements are subject to change.