Guide to Academic Planning 2017-2018

Physics

First- or second-year students planning to major in physics or participate in the dual degree engineering program should take the following:

  • MATH 130 Calculus I
  • MATH 140 Calculus II
  • PHYS 230 and 240 General Physics I and II (Calculus-based) 
              or PHYS 235 and 245 General Physics I and II (Workshop)

Students who plan to take only one physics course may take any of the following, based on interest:

  • PHYS 100 Introductory Topics in Physics
  • PHYS 135 Robotics Exploration Studio
  • PHYS 160 Astronomy
  • PHYS 170 Introductory Earth Science
  • PHYS 210 General Physics I (If the student does not plan to take calculus.)
  • PHYS 230 General Physics I (Calculus-based) (If the student has had or plans to take Calculus I concurrently.)
  • PHYS 235 General Physics I (Workshop) (If the student has had or plans to take Calculus I concurrently.)

Students who plan to take two courses in physics may take the following:

  • PHYS 210 and 220 General Physics I and II (If the student does not plan to take calculus.) 
  • PHYS 230 and 240 General Physics I and II (Calculus-based)(If the student has had or plans to take Calculus I concurrently.) 
  • PHYS 235 and 245 General Physics I and II (Workshop) (If the student has had or plans to take Calculus I concurrently.)

Major

Fourteen (14) courses distributed as follows:

Physics (9)

  • PHYS 210 General Physics I 
                    or 
    PHYS 230 General Physics I (Calculus-based) 
                    or 
    PHYS 235 General Physics I (Workshop)
  • PHYS 220 General Physics II 
                    or 
    PHYS 240 General Physics II (Calculus-based) 
                    or 
    PHYS 245 General Physics II (Workshop)
  • PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves
  • PHYS 315 Modern Physics
  • PHYS 320 Electrodynamics
  • PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS 340 Electronics
  • PHYS 370 Thermal Physics
  • PHYS 380 Classical Mechanics

Mathematics (3)

  • MATH 130 Calculus I
  • MATH 140 Calculus II
  • MATH 260 Differential Equations

Chemistry (1)

  • CHEM 110 General Chemistry I: Chemical Structure and Properties 
                    OR 
    CHEM 150 Accelerated General Chemistry

Electives (1)

  • CHEM 120 General Chemistry II
  • CSCI 150 Foundations of Computer Science
  • CSCI 151 Data Structures and Object-Oriented Development
  • CSCI 385 Scientific Computing
  • EDUC 290 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • MATH 230 Multivariable Calculus
  • MATH 270 Linear Algebra
  • PHYS 450 Directed Research
  • PHYS 490 Topics in Physics

Minor

  • PHYS 210 General Physics I 
                    or 
    PHYS 230 General Physics I (Calculus-based) 
                    or 
    PHYS 235 General Physics I (Workshop)
  • PHYS 220 General Physics II 
                    or 
    PHYS 240 General Physics II (Calculus-based) 
                    or 
    PHYS 245 General Physics II (Workshop)
  • PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves
  • PHYS 315 Modern Physics
  • MATH 130 Calculus I
  • MATH 140 Calculus II
  • MATH 260 Differential Equations

General Comments

  1. PHYS 230/240 General Physics I/II (calculus-based) is taught in a traditional format with three 50-minute lecture periods and a 2-hour 50-minute lab per week. PHYS 235/245 GeneralPhysics I/II (workshop) employs a new pedagogy wherein the student spends the entire time in lab working in small groups and discovering the laws of physics through guided activities. It meets three times per week for 1-hour, 50-minutes at a time.
  2. The sequence of courses for a physics major is designed so that a student can complete the requirements in three years, if need be. 
  3. A first-year schedule for a student undecided between a major in physics or another natural science should include the required introductory courses from both majors, if possible.
  4. The department recommends that physics majors take the GRE at the end of the fall term of the senior year to satisfy the departmental comprehensive examination requirement. Even though taking a departmental examination also satisfies the comp requirement, we recommend trying the GRE first.

COURSE PLANNING

Table I presents a typical course schedule for the student planning to take four years to finish the physics major.

Table I

  Fall Spring
First Year MATH 130 Calculus I MATH 140 Calculus II
  PHYS 230 Gen Physics I (Calc-based w/Lab)
or
PHYS 235 Gen Physics I (Workshop)
PHYS 240 Gen Physics II (Calc-based w/Lab)
or
PHYS 245 Gen Physics II (Workshop)
 Second Year PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves PHYS 315 Modern Physics (w/Lab)
   CHEM 110  
  MATH 260 Differential Equations
Third Year PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics
or                                                              
PHYS 370 Thermal Physics                                          

PHYS 340, PHYS 320 or 380



 
Fourth Year PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics
or
PHYS 370 Thermal Physics
PHYS 320 Electrodynamics
or
PHYS 380 Classical Mechanics

Notes

  • Calculus I should be taken prior to or concurrently with PHYS 230 or PHYS 235. Calculus II should be taken prior to or concurrently with PHYS 240 or PHYS 245. These courses are prerequisites for the fall semester second year courses:  PHYS 305 and MATH 260.
  • Topics courses and research may be taken in the third and fourth years.
  • PHYS 320 and PHYS 370 are offered only in even numbered years, PHYS 380 is offered only during odd numbered years. All other courses are offered every year.

Table II presents a course schedule of a student planning to finish the physics major in three years.

Table II

Fall Spring
First Year MATH 130 Calculus I MATH 140 Calculus II
PHYS 230 Gen Physics I (Calc-based w/Lab) 
or 
PHYS 235 Gen Physics I (Workshop)
PHYS 240 Gen Physics II (Calc-based w/Lab) 
or 
PHYS 245 Gen Physics II (Workshop)
  CHEM 110 
 Second Year MATH 260 Differential Equations  PHYS 315 Modern Physics (w/Lab)
  PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves
 PHYS 320 Electrodynamics 
or 
PHYS 380 Classical Mechanics
  PHYS 370 Thermal Physics PHYS 340 Electronics (w/Lab)
Third Year PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics 

PHYS 320 Electrodynamics
or
PHYS 380 Classical Mechanics
  PHYS 370 Thermal Physics 

Pre-Engineering Program

Students interested in the Pre-engineering (dual degree) program should follow Table II for the first year. Students interested in mechanical, electrical or civil engineering should also follow the second and third years of Table ll. Students interested in chemical engineering should major in chemistry.

Senior Capstone Experience

The Senior Capstone Experience for the physics major consists of a comprehensive examination. Students have two options for the examination. The first option is to take the GRE Physics test administered by the Educational Testing Services (ETS). The second option is to take an exam given by the department faculty. The grade for the senior capstone experience is based on student performance on one of these examinations.