Tomohiko Narita, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair
Physics is the study of the behavior of the universe, especially the fundamental laws underlying natural phenomena. The Department of Physics has offerings to meet a range of interests, from a Topics in Physics course, to a minor, to a complete major program on the principles and analytic methods of the field. The curriculum leading to a bachelor’s degree can provide a solid foundation for graduate study in physics, applied physics, engineering, medicine, or law; or for entry-level positions in research, business, teaching, and other fields.
Students required to take a one-year course in general physics as part of their academic program should take Introductory Physics 1, 2 (PHYS 115, 116). This is a two-semester, calculus-based sequence, suitable for majors of physics, chemistry, or biology, as well as for those participating in the Health Professions Advisory Program (premedical, predental, etc.), the 3-2 Engineering Program, or in ROTC. Advanced Placement Credit: Students with AP credit in Physics do not receive advanced standing in the Physics curriculum nor credit toward the minimum number of courses required for the major or minor.
The Major in Physics
The requirements for a major in physics are the following:
• Three semesters of calculus (MATH 135, 136 and 241 or the equivalent)
• Introductory Physics 1, 2 (PHYS 115, 116)
• Methods of Physics (PHYS 221)
• Modern Physics with the laboratory (PHYS 223, 225)
• Classical Mechanics (PHYS 342)
• Thermal Physics (PHYS 344)
• Electromagnetic Theory (PHYS 351)
• Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 353)
• at least two additional lecture courses and one laboratory course, at the 200 level or above.
Advanced electives include Optics with the laboratory (PHYS 231, 233), Electronics with the laboratory (PHYS 234, 236), Introduction to Astrophysics (PHYS 355), and Advanced Topics in Physics (PHYS 399). Introductory Physics 1, 2 are prerequisites for all 200 level physics courses; Multivariable Calculus (MATH 241) and Methods of Physics (PHYS 221) are prerequisites for most 300 level physics courses. Students may take Independent Study (PHYS 461, 462) under faculty guidance to pursue topics of interest that fall outside the regularly offered courses. Programs of supervised research in theoretical or experimental physics (PHYS 471, 472) are available for qualified physics majors. In addition, summer research positions with a stipend are usually available, on a competitive basis.
Notes: A minimum grade of C in Introductory Physics 1, 2 is required to continue in the major. A laboratory course is taken as a fifth course in any given semester. Physics majors, who are also Mathematics majors, are not required to take Methods of Physics. Two special academic programs may be of interest to Physics majors. The 3-2 Program in Engineering provides the opportunity to combine the study of physics with training in engineering. The Teacher Education Program leads to state licensure as a secondary school teacher of physics. Students interested in one of these programs should consult early in their career with the department chair and either the 3-2 program advisor or the director of the Teacher Education Program.
The Minor in Physics
A minor in physics is also offered for those seeking an exploration of physics beyond the introductory level. Students must take two semesters of calculus (MATH 135 and 136, or the equivalent). The required physics courses are Introductory Physics 1, 2 (PHYS 115, 116), and Modern Physics (PHYS 223). In consultation with their physics advisors, minors are required to choose three additional physics courses, two of which must be lecture courses at the 200 level or above.