Applied Physics – your gateway to bridging theoretical physics with practical engineering applications.

Our Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics program empowers you to master the theoretical underpinnings of physics and their real-world applications, equipping you to pioneer groundbreaking solutions. With a focus on advanced mathematics and chemistry, our small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and complimentary tutoring resources ensure personalized support for your success in your applied physics degree.

Throughout your applied physics bachelor’s degree program, you'll hone critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills essential for diverse career paths. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics from a respected institution like ours will undoubtedly capture the attention of prospective employers.

If you're eager to elevate your proficiency in mathematics and explore its applications, our bachelor’s degree in applied physics program offers an ideal platform for your academic pursuits.

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Programs & Requirements

Programs & Requirements

* The credit hours listed on this page only reference the specific program requirements and is not reflective of the total hours necessary to receive your Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics. Cumberlands requires all students obtain a minimum of 60 hours for an associate’s degree and a total of 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree. Transfer and prior learning credits may be counted toward those totals.

To learn more about our General Education Requirements, please visit the page referenced below or explore our Academic Catalog

General Education Requirements

Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics

The applied physics degree is for students pursuing the dual-degree (3-2) engineering option and leads to two bachelor’s degrees. UC has a formal agreement with the University of Kentucky; however, other ABET-accredited engineering schools may be acceptable on a case-by-case basis. Engineering schools and individual branches of engineering require different core courses; applied physics majors are responsible for being familiar with these specific requirements. 

The bachelor’s degree in applied physics curriculum nominally requires three years at UC and two years at UK; however, various situations may affect this time frame. UC recommends that students complete introductory engineering courses between UC and UK during the summer. Some engineering branches require additional (and maybe extensive) programming, chemistry, or biology background beyond the required curriculum, thus requiring more than five years. See the pre-engineering curriculum for additional notes about general education requirements at UK.

Course Requirements

Note: The 3+2 partnership with University of Kentucky requires a minimum of 70 credit hours completed at Cumberlands followed by 32 hours at UK.

PHYS 241     Physics I 

PHYS 242     Physics II 

PHYS 335     Quantum Physics 

PHYS 340     Classical Physics 

PHYS 410     Ethics in Science 

PHYS 419     Physics Capstone 

PHYS 430     Classical Mechanics

PHYS 431     Electromagnetism

PHYS 435     Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 439     Applications of Nuclear Physics

PHYS 490     Selected Topics in Physics

PHYS 312 Experimental Design and Analysis

PHYS 332  Experimental Physics I

MATH 140     Calculus I

MATH 240     Calculus II

MATH 241     Calculus III

MATH 430     Differential Equations

MATH 335   Mathematics Electives (6 hours) 

Chemistry (4 hours)  

  • CHEM 111     General Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 132     General Chemistry I 

Programming (3 hours)   

  • ITSS 131     Introduction to Object Oriented Programming 


A Bachelor of Arts degree requires completing the same courses as a Bachelor of Science with the addition of completing one foreign language sequence through the intermediate level.

FREN 131        Elementary French I

FREN 132        Elementary French II

FREN 231        Intermediate French I

FREN 232        Intermediate French II


SPAN 131        Elementary Spanish I

SPAN 132        Elementary Spanish II

SPAN 231        Intermediate Spanish I

SPAN 232        Intermediate Spanish II

3+2 Pre-Engineering Partnership with UK

Cumberlands students have the option to pursue the dual-degree (3+2) engineering option, which leads to two bachelor’s degrees through a formal agreement between University of the Cumberlands and the University of Kentucky (UK). Other ABET-accredited engineering schools may be acceptable on a case-by-case basis. Different engineering schools and individual branches of engineering may require different core courses; you, as the student, are responsible for being familiar with these specific requirements and tailoring your class schedule at Cumberlands (and potentially your engineering school of choice during summer semesters) as best you can to meet your goals. 

If you want to pursue a dual-degree program, you should announce your Cumberlands major as “Applied Physics,” as that is the degree program which includes the courses that will lay the groundwork best for engineering school.

The 3+2, dual-degree program’s curriculum nominally requires three years at UC followed by two years at UK; however, a variety of situations may affect this timeframe. UC recommends that students complete introductory engineering courses during the summer between UC and UK. Many pre-engineering students are able to complete a bachelor’s degree from Cumberlands and engineering degree from UK in 5 years. Some engineering branches, however, require additional (and maybe extensive) background in programming, chemistry, or biology that are beyond the required curriculum, thus requiring more than five years of schooling to complete the desired engineering degree.  

General Education Requirements: For students transferring to University of Kentucky through our 3+2 program, the entire UC general education curriculum should be completed in order to become UK Gen Ed Certified. Students who intend to transfer without completing all of UC’s general education can still be accepted into UK but will have to complete some general education requirements at UK in order to graduate.

Anchor: Mission & Goals

Mission & Goals

The mission of the applied physics degree program at Cumberlands is to provide a solid foundation for students to pursue successful careers in physics, engineering, mathematics, secondary education, and other related fields.

Cultivate critical-thinking skills

Develop skills in experimental physics

Apply physical principles

Expand knowledge in mathematics

Recognize your professional and ethical responsibilities

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Applied Physics Careers & Outcomes

All stats from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physicist or Astronomer: $147,450

Physicist or Astronomer: $147,450

Physicists and astronomers study the interactions of matter and energy.

Physics Teacher: $86,550

Physics Teacher: $86,550

Teach courses pertaining to the laws of matter and energy. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.

Nuclear Engineer: $120,380

Nuclear Engineer: $120,380

Nuclear engineers research and develop projects or address problems concerning the release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.

Electro-Mechanical Technologist: $60,360

Electro-Mechanical Technologist: $60,360

Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians operate, test, and maintain electromechanical or robotic equipment.

Physics Professor: $79,640

Physics Professor: $79,640

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

Mechanical Engineer: $95,300

Mechanical Engineer: $95,300

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Anchor: FAQs

Common Questions

Applied physics is the application of physics to solve real-world problems, specifically as they pertain to science and engineering. It can be thought of as a bridge between the theoretical world of physics and the concrete world of engineering, focusing on the practical application of physics principles to practical devices and systems. Due to its close relation to engineering, applied physics undergraduate programs are often also known as an engineering physics degree or engineering physics major. While the specifics may vary from program to program, the overlap in concepts covered is substantial enough to be considered interchangeable in every practical sense.

At a very basic level, physics is a broader category of study than applied physics. Physics is a natural science that encompasses an array of physics branches, including astrophysics, nuclear physics, and applied physics. Applied physics, therefore, is a more specific form of physics which focuses on real-world applications of physics theories to develop and improve technology. It is therefore closely related to engineering.

An applied physics degree is an excellent choice for many reasons. There will always be a need for engineers, so the job outlook is excellent. The variety of career types one could pursue with an applied physics bachelor’s degree makes it an attractive option, including the aerospace industry, energy infrastructure, education, and more. It is also a great launching point for those interested in pursuing a graduate or doctoral degree. 

When you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in applied physics, you can pursue an engineering education and an engineering career, but those aren’t your only options. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the possibilities are nearly endless, and the pay range is vast. At the lower end of the pay scale, environmental engineers and surveyors make a median salary between $48,390 and $61,600. At the other end of the spectrum, petroleum engineers have a median salary of $130,850. Some other attractive engineering career options include:

As an undergraduate physics student, you’ll perform experiments ranging from the traditional “inclined plane” to sophisticated computer data acquisition systems. Our department provides access to high-quality equipment for problem-solving, computation, and data acquisition, a mathematics tutoring laboratory, and physics laboratories equipped to help students learn at both an introductory and advanced level.

All programs at University of the Cumberlands are offered at some of the lowest rates in the nation – and we even include free textbooks through our One Price Promise! For more information on how affordable the Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics program would be for you, visit our Financial Aid page.

Anchor: Faculty

Faculty Experts in Physics

Learn more about your future physics professors!

Amy Bowman

Amy Bowman

Adjunct Professor

Amy Bowman

Contact Information

amy.bowman [at]
Debbie Pierce

Debbie Pierce

Adjunct Professor

Debbie Pierce

Contact Information

debbie.pierce [at]
Kenny Siler

Kenny Siler

Associate Professor

Kenny Siler

Contact Information

kenneth.siler [at]
Available by appointment only

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