Program Information

Students curious about how the world works will find that the physics curriculum offers them the opportunity to learn not only about the principal phenomena of the physical world but also how physical theory helps us understand these phenomena. The curriculum emphasizes laboratory work in which students become independent workers formulating and solving their own problems. Students gain the intellectual skill of moving freely to and from the concrete and the abstract. Students assess evidence, follow complex arguments to their logical conclusions, and practice speaking and writing clearly and effectively. The major program may serve as a basis for further study in physics and allied sciences and in engineering and for study leading to professions in education, health sciences and law.

Many careers are open to those who understand some physics. Graduates work as astronomers, engineers, material scientists and physicists in government, industry and universities as well as in geophysics, oceanography, computer science, medical and health physics and in patent law.

The physics department is located in Collins Hall. Individual research space is available and all laboratories are equipped with a wide variety of instrumentation. Students at all levels use computers with sophisticated data acquisition and analysis software. A set of spectrometers are available for studies from the ultraviolet to the far infrared. An X-ray diffractometer is available for materials studies.

Requirements for the Physics Major (12 Credits)

9 credits in Physics, 2 in Mathematics, 1 in Computer Science or PHYS 338

Core courses

Choose two courses from the following (2)

Additional requirements

  • One additional course in Physics numbered above 200 (1)
  • MATH 249 (QA*) Multivariable Calculus (1)
  • MATH 256 Differential Equations (1)
  • CS 125 Problem Solving with MATLAB OR CS 141 (QA*) Introduction to Programming OR PHYS 338 Advanced Data Analysis and Simulation (ADAS) (1)

Graduate schools often require students take courses similar to PHYS 335 (Thermal Physics), PHYS 345 (Electromagnetism), and PHYS 453 (Quantum Mechanics). Students intending to do graduate study in Physics should consider further mathematical study in linear algebra and complex variables. Students preparing for careers in engineering or applied science should consider taking Wave Phenomena and Electromagnetism plus one other course beyond the basic six. Students with other goals in mind should consult the faculty concerning their choice of elective courses beyond the basic six.

Requirements for the Physics Minor (5 Credits)

  • PHYS 221 (QA; NW) Introductory Physics I (1)
  • PHYS 222 (QA; NW) Introductory Physics II (1)
  • PHYS 223 Modern Physics (1)
  • Two additional Physics courses at 300- or 400-level (2)