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Major in Physics

Physics is an appropriate major for students with career interests in such areas as physics, astronomy, atmospheric science, engineering, materials science, or nuclear science as well as medicine and dentistry in some cases. It can also be a valuable second major for students in such diverse areas as mathematics, chemistry, computer science, biology, geography, economics and business. An interdepartmental major combining any of these areas with physics can be designed to match specific student interests.

As a physics major, you’ll begin with the fundamentals and then develop  progressively advanced knowledge of both theoretical and experimental physics. You’ll also learn sound research methods and technical writing skills, which are essential in the academic and business worlds. 

All physics majors complete at least one full course of independent study or research during their final four terms. This period is intended to give them a chance to draw together the material they have been studying and bring it to bear on a particular project. By working closely with a faculty member on such a project, students learn how to focus their ideas toward a goal while developing skills necessary for more independent work after graduation.

Major in Physics (Bachelor of Arts)
For a bachelor of arts with a major in physics, five courses beyond the basic sequence are required plus one course of independent study or research (PHY 492, 494, 451 or Honors 404). The preferred sequence is as follows:

PHY 121 and 122 General Physics I and II
PHY 304 Intermediate Physics
PHY 305 Modern Physics of Atoms, Nuclei
 and Particles

Students then complete three of the following courses:
PHY 311 Analytical Mechanics
PHY 312 Electricity and Magnetism
PHY 313 Thermodynamics
PHY 414 Modern Optics
PHY 421 Quantum Mechanics

MTH 151, 152 and 251 (Calculus I, II and III) and MTH 341 Differential Equations or their equivalent also must be completed.

Major in Physics (Bachelor of Science)
For a bachelor of science with a major in physics, seven courses beyond the basic sequence are required plus one course of independent study or research (PHY 492, 494, 451 or Honors 404). The preferred sequence is as follows:

PHY 121 and 122 General Physics I and II
PHY 304 Intermediate Physics
PHY 305 Modern Physics of Atoms, Nuclei
 and Particles
PHY 311 Analytical Mechanics
PHY 312 Electricity and Magnetism
PHY 313 Thermodynamics
PHY 414 Modern Optics
PHY 421 Quantum Mechanics

MTH 151, 152 and 251 (Calculus I, II and III) and MTH 341 Differential Equations or their equivalent also must be completed, in addition to CS 220, CHM 211 and CHM 212 or CHM 220.

For both degrees, students who qualify for advanced placement may receive credit for all or part of the introductory sequence.

Recommendations
MTH 342 Applied Analysis and MTH 346 Statistics for Scientists are strongly recommended. For many students, this leads to a mathematics minor  or to a double major. Introductory courses in chemistry (CHM 211 and 212), computer science (CS 201, 220, 315, and IS 221), and PHY 370 Physical Electronics are also recommended.

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