Physics and Astronomy


Professor Durig, Chair

Professor Peterson

Professor Szapiro

Assistant Professor Donev

Major in physics: Three programs are available to students who want to major in physics.

A. An intensive major for students who intend to pursue graduate work in the physical sciences: eight one-semester lecture courses, Physics 305 and 306; two half-course seminars; plus Chemistry 101, 102;  Mathematics 207 and 212. The Graduate Record Examination is required as part of the comprehensive examination.

B. A broad major for students who intend to pursue graduate work in medicine, engineering, biophysics, environmental sciences, health physics, or teaching: six one-semester lecture courses, including Physics 203, 303, and 307; Physics 305 and 306; two half-course seminars; plus five full courses in other science or mathematics courses approved by the physics department.

C. The 3/2 plan for engineering students: six one-semester lecture courses including Physics 203 and 303, four with associated laboratories; one half-course seminar; plus Chemistry 101, 102; Computer Science 157; Mathematics 207 and 212.

Research participation and laboratory assistantship are encouraged in all three programs.

For a first-year student planning to major in physics, the following curriculum is recommended:

    Physics 103, 104
    Humanities 101, 102
    Mathematics 101, 102
    Physical Education
    Foreign Language 103, 104

Students may seek advanced placement in physics, mathematics, and foreign language.

The second-year program should be planned in consultation with the department chair.

Minor in physics/astronomy: The physics department offers a minor in physics/astronomy. The requirements for a minor are Physics 250, Physics 251, and Physics 444B. In addition, each student must complete one of the following three sets of courses: Option A: Physics 201 and Geology 121 ; Option B: Physics 303 and Physics 304; Option C: Physics 307 and Physics 308. Physics 350 Cosmology may be substituted for one of the advanced Physics courses in options A, B, and C. The total number of courses required for the minor is 4.5. An average grade of at least C is required for successful completion of the minor. Comprehensive examinations are not required, but each student must present the results of the Physics 444 project during a seminar. Please note that the knowledge and skills acquired in Physics 101, 102 or Physics 103, 104 are presumed for any upper level Physics class except for Physics 250 and 251.