A major in physics may be pursued under the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree program, either of which can provide adequate preparation for graduate study. Students in the bachelor of arts program who plan to attend graduate school in physics should consult with their advisers to select an appropriate set of electives.
The standard entry point for either degree program is the year-long introductory sequence PHYS 211-212. Students with a strong background or aptitude in mathematics and physics who express an interest will be considered for placement in the special section PHYS 211E-212E of the introductory course.
There are two slightly different ways to satisfy the requirement for the bachelor of arts major in physics. The major may consist of PHYS 211, PHYS 212, PHYS 221, PHYS 222 (with prerequisite MATH 211), and in addition EITHER PHYS 329 (half-credit) and PHYS 330 (half-credit) and a minimum of three other 200- or 300-level physics courses, two of which must be at the 300 level OR PHYS 329 (half-credit) or PHYS 330 (half-credit) and a minimum of four other 200- or 300-level physics courses, two of which must be at the 300 level. One of the 300-level courses must be chosen from PHYS 317, PHYS 331, PHYS 332, or PHYS 333. (The other courses may include ASTR 301 and approved Capstones.)
A bachelor of science major consists of PHYS 211, PHYS 212, PHYS 221, PHYS 222 (with prerequisite MATH 211), PHYS 235, PHYS 317, PHYS 329 (half-credit), PHYS 330 (halfcredit), PHYS 331, PHYS 332, PHYS 333, and a minimum of two other 300-level physics credits. (These courses may include ASTR 301 and approved Capstones.) In addition, bachelor of science candidates must take MATH 212, MATH 213, and either ASTR 201 or a 200- or 300-level biology, chemistry, computer science, or geology course.
The typical course sequence for students pursuing the bachelor of science physics major might look like the following:
First Semester: PHYS 211; MATH 201
Second Semester: PHYS 212; MATH 202
First Semester: PHYS 221; MATH 211; MATH 213
Second Semester: PHYS 222; PHYS 235; MATH 212
First Semester: PHYS 332; PHYS 333; PHYS 329 (half-credit)
Second Semester: PHYS 330 (half-credit); Elective(s) in physics
First Semester: PHYS 331; PHYS 317; Elective in science
Second Semester: Elective(s) in physics
A physics major leading to the bachelor of arts degree also is available in combination with a bachelor of science in engineering in a five-year program.
A minor in physics consists of four 200- or 300-level physics courses, which may include ASTR 201. Advanced placement credit does not count toward the minor.
The physics department encourages students to participate in research projects; research serves as an important complement to the classroom study of physics. The department offers research opportunities in atomic and molecular physics, chaos and nonlinear dynamics, astronomy and astrophysics, general relativity, theoretical quantum optics, laser spectroscopy, elementary particle physics, positron physics, biological physics, theoretical condensed matter physics, and statistical physics.
Honors in physics is given to those students who are accepted by the University Honors Council and successfully complete and defend an honors thesis in physics.
Study abroad is possible for students completing either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. Such study should be discussed well in advance with the academic adviser and the chair of the physics department.
Students wishing to become certified as secondary school physics teachers should consult with the education department and the chair of the physics department to arrange a plan of study that ensures that all of the requirements for certification will be met.