Physics Major

The physics major requires a minimum of 57 credit hours.

All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the following courses.

Required Non-Physics Courses

CHEM 238: Inorganic Chemistry
3 credit hours

A fundamental course in the study of inorganic chemistry. Topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular structure, nomenclature of inorganic compounds, fundamentals of inorganic complexes and an introduction to the chemistry of main group elements.

CHEM 238-L: Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
1 credit hours

A fundamental laboratory course in the study of inorganic chemistry. Topics include the preparation of inorganic complexes, resolution of chiral transition metal compounds, ion conductivity and a preparation of a main group inorganic compound.

CSCI 251: Introduction to Computer Science
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  Two years of high school algebra. 
An introduction to computer science through applications such as media. A major component is programming design and development using a language such as Python or Java. A disciplined approach to problem solving methods and algorithm development will be stressed using top-down design and stepwise refinement. Topics included are syntax and semantics, I/O, control structures, modularity, data types, and object-oriented programming.

MATH 231: Calculus I
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  Two years of high school algebra and one semester of high school trigonometry. 
A study of the fundamental principles of analytic geometry and calculus with an emphasis on differentiation.

MATH 232: Calculus II
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  MATH 231 or MATH 236. It is recommended that students receive a grade of C or better in MATH 231 or MATH 236 to be successful in this course. 
Continuation of Calculus I including techniques of integration and infinite series.

MATH 233: Calculus III
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  MATH 232. It is recommended that students receive a grade of C or better in MATH 231 to be successful in this course. 
Functions of two variables, partial differentiation, applications of multiple integrals to areas and volumes, line and surface integrals, and vectors.

MATH 366: Differential Equations
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  MATH 232
A first course in ordinary differential equations.

MATH 235: Linear Algebra is recommended. 

Required Physics Courses

PHYS 150: Physics Tool Kit
1 credit hours

Introduces a variety of experimental and computation techniques used in physics so that students can then pursue their own independent research projects. Topics include learning how to use specific equipment (3D printer, high-speed camera, Oculus Rift, Arduino, etc.) as well as computer applications (Excel spreadsheets, LabPro video-motion analysis software, VPython programming, etc.). Offered fall and spring semesters.

PHYS 211: General Physics I
4 credit hours

Co-requisite:  MATH 231. 
The principles of Newtonian mechanics including motion, energy, and force. Calculus with extensive use of vector analysis. Intended for science majors. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format — integrated laboratory and lecture — emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 212: General Physics II
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  PHYS 211. 
Continuation of Newtonian mechanics, including working, 2-d motion, impulse-momentum, and circular motion. Also electrical and magnetic properties of matter, fields and forces, and DC circuits. Calculus with extensive use of vector analysis. Intended for science majors. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format — integrated laboratory and lecture — emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 213: Magnetism, Waves and Optics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 212. 
Principles of magnetic and electromagnetic interactions; wave phenomena, including interference; and an introduction to geometrical optics including shadow, mirrors, and lenses. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format — integrated laboratory and lecture — emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Two two-hour sessions per week. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 309: Modern Physics
4 credit hours

Prerequisite:  PHYS 213 or PHYS 222
Extensive exploration of models of light, fundamental particles, and how they interact, starting with Newton and continuing through to Bohr. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format — integrated laboratory and lecture — emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 350: Intermediate Mechanics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  PHYS 212. Co-requisite: MATH 233
Particle and rigid body dynamics, moving coordinate systems, rotating bodies, variational principles, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches, small oscillations, planetary orbits, Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 411: Electricity and Magnetism I
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  MATH 233PHYS 213. 
Principles and applications of static and moving charges, magnetism, electromagnetic theory and Maxwell’s equations. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 442: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  PHYS 309MATH 233MATH 366. 
A study of the principles of quantum mechanics and applications, operators, differential equations of quantum mechanics, particle in a box, harmonic oscillator, one-electron atoms, barrier potentials, tunneling. Offered spring semester. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

Choose Two (6 hrs.)

PHYS 320: Biophysics
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 212CHEM 238
Improves and develops understanding of physics concepts, and applies them to molecular and cellular biological systems. Concepts and principles from thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and electricity will be applied to systems such as bacteria, cell membranes, vascular networks, and biological molecules (RNA, DNA, and proteins including enzymes). For biology and biochemistry students who seek to learn more about the application of physics concepts and principles in biological systems, as well as for physics students interested in thinking more about cells and biological molecules.

PHYS 361: Mathematical Methods for Physics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 232PHYS 212.
This course extends students’ physical understanding through the incorporation of advanced mathematical methods. Topics include numerical integration and Gaussian quadrature; special functions, including the Gamma function and applications to quantum mechanics, elliptical functions and the pendulum, and the error function: applications of linear algebra and the eigenvalue problem to classical coupled systems and quantum mechanics; orthogonal functions and solution methods for differential equations. Offered occasionally.

PHYS 412: Electricity and Magnetism II
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  PHYS 411MATH 366. 
Principles and applications of static and moving charges, magnetism, electromagnetic theory and Maxwell’s equations. Offered spring semester. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

PHYS 420: Computational Physics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 366PHYS 400PHYS 411 and CSCI 251. 
With the increase in computing power and development of algorithms, computational methods are routinely used to solve physics problems where analytical solutions do not exist. This course employs such methods to problems from classical mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical mechanics, including projectile motion, planetary dynamics, oscillatory motion and chaos, electrostatics, magnetostatics, waves, random systems, and phase transitions.

PHYS 430: Space Environmental Dynamics
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: MATH 233, MATH 366, PHYS 350.
An introduction to the motion of objects in space, including planets, moons, asteroids, comets, planetary rings, and man-made objects. Topics include: definition and use of orbital elements and their rates of change, determination of orbits from observations, rotational dynamics of the earth, moon, and natural and artificial satellites, control and emplacement of spacecraft into earth orbit and interplanetary trajectories. Laplace perturbation equations, precession of rotation axes and other orbital elements. Quaternions and their use in rotational dynamics, resonance phenomena involving rotational and orbital states, tidal heating, orbit-orbit and spin-orbit resonances. This course fulfills the requirements for Advanced Mechanics.

Choose One (3 hrs.)

PHYS 291, 391, 491 : Research
Variable credit hours

Many academic departments offer special research or investigative projects beyond the regular catalog offering. Significant responsibility lies with the student to work independently to develop a proposal for study that must be approved by a faculty mentor and the appropriate department chair. The faculty member will provide counsel through the study and will evaluate the student’s performance. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible. Students must register for research (291, 292, 391, 392, 491 or 492) to receive credit and are required to fill out a Permission to Register for Special Coursework form. It is recommended that students complete not more than 12 hours of research to apply toward the baccalaureate degree.

PHYS 397, 497: Internship
Variable credit hours

Interns must have at least 60 credit hours, completed appropriate coursework and have a minimum GPA of 2.5 prior to registering for academic credit. Also, approval must be obtained from the student's faculty sponsor and required forms must be completed by the deadline. Note: *Architecture, Music Therapy and Education majors do not register internships through Career Planning & Development. These students need to speak with his/her advisor regarding credit requirements and options. S/U grading.