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home > undergraduate studies > major requirements

Physics Major Requirements

 

The total major requirement consists of 39 credits and should begin no later than the second year: 27 credits from section A (below and 12 credits from section B (below). While not required, the one credit course, PHYS 196, senior Thesis, is strongly recommended for all students.

 

In addition to the physics requirements, there are other suggested courses in the program. CHEM 003 and 004 are strongly suggested. Prerequisites for all of the upper-level physics courses are Math 156, 157, 158 and 159 ( Calculus I, II, & III and Differential Equations). If students are not ready to take calculus on entering the University, they should take MATH 007. Advanced Calculus I & II or two semesters of upper level mathematics courses are strongly recommended. The college language requirement may be satisfied with French, German, or Russian. Substitution of any other language will require department approval.

 

Students who earn an A grade in a senior thesis approved by the Department and in the senior comprehensive exam and who maintain the grade point average designated by the College of Arts and Sciences, are eligible for departmental honors. Courses listed with two or more numbers must be taken in the sequence indicated. The student should consult the "Undergraduate Bulletin" for additional University and College of Arts and Sciences requirements.

 

A. Required Courses. 3-semester introductory sequence and five upper-division courses.

 

a. PHYS 013/023 General Physics for Science and Engineering Students I (Lecture/Lab) (3 credits/ 1 credit)
b. PHYS 014/24 General Physics for Science and Engineering Students II (Lecture/Lab) (3 credits/ 1 credit)
c. PHYS 015/025 Introduction to Modern Physics (Lecture/Lab) (3 credits/ 1 credit)
d. PHYS 175 Thermodynamics (3 credits)
e. PHYS 178 Electricity and Magnetism I (3 credits)
f. PHYS 182 Physical Mechanics I (3 credits)
g. PHYS 190 Quantum Physics I (3 credits)
h. PHYS 194 Experimental Physics I* (3 credits)

 

*WRTG 702 is the same as PHYS 194, but satisfies the College's third writing requirement.

 

B. Elective courses. Four more courses are required to complete the physics major These courses must be coherent and satisfy one of the following areas of concentration. The choices are (1) Professional Physics, and (2) Applied Physics. The requirements are listed on the follwoing pages. Applied Physics has several tracks for the student to choose from.

 

(1) Professional Physics

 

This track is primarily intended for those students who are planning to continue in graduate school in physics, astronomy, or a related field. First, two courses from the following four are required:

 

a. PHYS 179 Electricity and Magnetism II (3 credits)
b. PHYS 183 Physical Mechanics II (3 credits)
c. PHYS 191 Quantum Physics II (3 credits)
d. PHYS 195 Experimental Physics II (3 credits)

 

Second, choose any two of the remaining courses, including those from the above group (a-d) that the student has not yet taken. In practice, the student has the choice of any of the 3-credit, 100-level courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

 

e. PHYS 154 Computational Physics I (3 credits)
f. PHYS 176 Optics (3 credits)
g. PHYS 180 Electronic Physics I (3 credits)
h. PHYS 192 Introduction to Mathematical Physics I (3 credits)
i. PHYS 193 Introduction to Mathematical Physics II (3 credits)

 

(2) Applied Physics

 

These tracks are primarily intended for those students who are not planning to continue in graduate school in physics, astronomy, or a related field. Three tracks are listed below. The student is required to choose their scheme carefully in consultation with a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Courses other than those listed below (e.g., courses which are listed as prerequisites to those below) might also qualify.

 

I. Atmospheric Physics Track

 

This track is intended primarily for those students who plan a career in any of the atmospheric sciences: meteroology, or graduate study in atmospheric physics. Choose four courses from below, with PHYS 150 required and PHYS 251 strongly recommended.

 

a. PHYS 150 Introduction to Atmospheric Physics (3 credits)
b. PHYS 251 Atmospheric Physics II (3 credits)
c. ATMS 330 Atmospheric Chemistry I** (3 credits)
d. ATMS 331 Atmospheric Chemistry II** (3 credits)
e. ATMS 340 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I** (3 credits)
f. ATMS 341 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II** (3 credits)
g. PHYS 154 Computational Physics I (3 credits)
h. PHYS 253 Atmospheric Radiation** (3 credits)
i. PHYS 254 Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere** (3 credits)

 

**Denotes a current graduate course that can be taken at an undergraduate level. Of course, different work will be required for undergraduate and graduate students.

 

II. Biological Physics Track

This Track is primarily intended for students interested in studying biological physics. Choose any four of the courses below with PHYS 174 required

a. PHYS 174 Introduction to Biophysics (3 credits)
b. CHEM 141 Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)
c. CHEM 142 Organic Chemistry II (3 credits)
d. CHEM 152 Biochemistry I (3 credits)
e. CHEM 153 Biochemistry II (3 credits)
f. BIOL 101 Biology I (4 credits)
g. BIOL 102 Biology II (4 credits)
h. BIOL 320 Molecular Biology (4 credits)
i. HHPL 102 Human Anatomy (3 credits)
j. HHPL 103 Physiology (3 credits)

 

III. Computational Physics Track

This track is intended primarily for students interested in using computational techniques for solving complex physical problems.  Physics 154 and 155 are required for the track.  In addition, choose two additional courses from the following list:

a. SYCS 235 Computer Science I Lab
b. SYCS 363 Large Scale Programming
c. SYCS 135 Computer Science I
d. SYCS 410 Modeling and Simulation
e. MATH 181 Discrete Structures
f. MATH 164 Introduction to Numerical Analysis

An alternate elective can be petitioned to the curriculum committee.

IV. Physics Education Track 

This track is intended primarily for those students who plan a career in physics education. Required courses are EDUC 210, EDUC 310, EDUC 410.  One final 3 credit 100 level physics elective course or a 3 credit education course is required for the physics education track, but it is highly recommended that students take EDUC 450 (12 credits).  All of the education courses, 210, 310 410, and 450, are required for certification to become a physics teacher for grades 9 through 12.

Required:
a. EDUC 210 Foundations & Urban Education (3 credits)
b. EDUC 310 Educational Psychology & Special Education (3 credits)
c. EDUC 410 Pedagogy & Content Literacy (3 credits)
d. upper level physics or education course(3 credits) - or take EDUC 450(12 credits).

Highly recommended:
d. EDUC 450 Internship & Classroom Management (12 credits)

V. Astrophysics and Astronomy Track

This track is intended for students who plan to pursue a career in astronomy or astrophysics.  Required courses are Phys 140, 141, 143, and 145.

a. PHYS 140 Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics I (3 credits)
b. PHYS 141 Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics II (3 credits)
c. PHYS 143 Observational Astronomy (3 credits)
d. PHYS 145
Cosmology and Modern Astrophysics (3 credits)