Plan Your Major

Physics major

The Physics Major is at a minimum comprised of eight 4-credit courses,

PHYS226, Principles of Physics I (includes a lab)
PHYS227, Principles of Physics II (includes a lab)
PHYS331, Modern Physics, (includes a lab)
PHYS348, Lab Instrumentation, (includes a lab)
PHYS443, Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS461, Classical Mechanics
PHYS468, Statistical Mechanics
PHYS481, Quantum Mechanics,

 and one 1-credit course,

PHYS 489, Senior Seminar.

In addition, the mathematics courses MATH137, Single Variable Calculus, MATH236, Linear Algebra, MATH237, Multivariable Calculus, and MATH331, Differential Equations, are pre-requisites for core curriculum physics courses. Incoming students whose high school calculus background does not place them directly into MATH137 should first take MATH135, Applied Calculus.

Students who are contemplating a Physics and Astronomy major should plan to take PHYS331, Modern Physics, in the fall semester of their sophomore year if possible. Modern Physics is a gateway course that is required for most upper level physics courses. It is only offered in the fall semester. Sections of the two introductory physics courses PHYS226, Principles of Physics I, and PHYS227, Principles of Physics II, are offered in the fall as well as the spring semester. Note that the core curriculum courses form just the minimum required course work to obtain a Physics degree. Majors who are planning to go on to graduate physics, astronomy, or engineering programs are encouraged to broaden their base by taking elective and special topics courses when they are offered by the department.

Apart from the core curriculum course work, physics majors also are required to engage in an original research project. Most majors fulfill this requirement in the summer between their Junior and Senior year.

Physics with Astronomy emphasis major

The Physics major with Astronomy emphasis is identical to the Physics major, with the following modifications:

PHYS348 (Laboratory Instrumentation) is replaced by PHYS440 (Observational Astronomy)

PHYS481 (Quantum Mechanics) is replaced by PHYS460 (Astrophysics).  

It is suggested that students interested in the Astronomy emphasis enroll in PHYS113 (Modern Astronomy) and PHYS120 (Astronomical Techniques) before enrolling in PHYS440 or PHYS460; both PHYS113 and PHYS120 are only offered in the fall semesters.  

It is strongly recommended that astronomy emphasis students take PHYS481 in addition to PHYS440 and PHYS460.

Physics Minor

The department also offers a minor consisting of 5 courses: PHYS226, PHYS227, PHYS331, and any two physics and astronomy courses numbered above 331.