Physics - Requirements

Bachelor of Science - Major in Physics

Students who major in physics must complete 44 credits and 18 classes in Physics, 18 credits in Mathematics (five classes), and 8 credits in Chemistry (two classes with lab, or equivalent with the permission of the chair). The 44 credits in Physics must include the following classes:

General Physics I and II, with Labs

(PS 15, PS 15L, PS 16, PS16L)

Modern Physics and Modern Physics Lab

(PS 285, PS 204)

Classical Mechanics

(PS 226)

Computational Physics

(PS 215)

Electricity and Magnetism

(PS 271)

Modern Optics and Optics Lab

(PS 222, PS 206L)

Thermal and Statistical Physics

(PS 241)

Quantum Mechanics

(PS 386)

Physics Capstone (Fall and Spring)

(PS 391, PS 392)


The remaining nine credits can be satisfied with any other 200-level or higher course offered by the physics department. Other substitutions are not allowed except by permission of the department chair.
 
The 18 math credits may be satisfied with any math course approved for math, science, or engineering students. However, many physics classes have math classes as prerequisites. Thus, students will normally need to take MA 145, 145, and 245 (Calculus I—III), MA 321 (Ordinary Differential Equations), and MA 332 (Partial Differential Equations) to fulfill their physics prerequisites.

  Credits
First Year Fall Spring
PS 15-16 General Physics I and II 3 3
PS 15L-16L General Physics I and II, Lab 1 1
MA 145-146 Calculus I and II 4 4
Core Curriculum 9 9
Total 17 17
Sophomore Year Fall Spring
PS 285 Modern Physics 3  
PS 204 Modern Experimental Methods, Lab   2
PS 226 Classical Mechanics   3
PS 215 Computational Physics   3
MA 245 Calculus III 4  
MA 321 Ordinary Differential Equations   3
Core Curriculum 9 6
Total 16 17
Junior Year  Fall  Spring
PS 271 Electricity and Magnetism 3  
PS 241 Thermal and Statistical Physics 3  
PS 222 Modern Optics   3
PS 206 Modern Optics, Lab    1
PS Physics Elective   3
CH 111-112 General Chemistry I and II 3 3
CH 111L-112L General Chemistry I and II, Lab 1 1
MA 332 Partial Differential Equations   3
Core Curriculum   3
Total 16 17
Senior Year  Fall Spring
PS 386 Quantum Mechanics 3  
PS Physics Elective   6
PS 391-392 Capstone in Physics 1 3
Core Curriculum 3 3
Free Elective 9 3
Total 16 15

Provision for Physics Advanced Placement Exam C

Entering students who have passed both AP Physics C exams with scores of 4 or 5 may advance directly to the physics sophomore course PS 285 - Modern Physics, without taking the PS 15-16 prerequisites. Note: For having passed the AP exams, only 4 credits are awarded toward graduation, according to the general AP Physics policy of the University. Students who therefore do not take PS 15-16 under this provision will need to take an additional elective in physics or another discipline with the chair's permission, in order to complete the required number of credits for the major in physics.

Minor in Physics

Students who major in an area other than physics can earn a 16-credit minor in physics by completing the following minimum requirements of two courses and an advanced lab beyond the introductory physics sequence:

  • Introductory sequence: PS 15-16 General Physics I and II with lab (eight credits)
    AND
  • Modern Physics (PS 285) and a three-credit course chosen among the 200- and 300-level physics courses, with the chairman's approval (six credits).
  • Modern Experimental Methods Laboratory (PS 204, two credits).

Substitution of the Modern Physics courses must be approved by the chair.

Note: Biology and Chemistry majors can minor in physics by taking two lecture courses and one laboratory course beyond the requirements of their major. Engineering majors can minor in physics by taking one lecture course and one laboratory course beyond the requirements of the major.

Physics Major with a Minor in Educational Studies and the 5-year teacher education program

Physics majors who elect a minor in Educational Studies and who have been admitted to the Five Year Integrated Bachelor's-Masters Degree and Teacher Certification program may count ED 462 Science Methods as their Physics 3 credit Independent Study project. Physics majors with an Education Minor should consult with Dr. Angela Biselli, education advisor, and Dr. Wendi Kohli, director of the Five Year Integrated Bachelor's-Masters Degree and Teacher Certification program.