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Physics and Astronomy

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College of Science and Mathematics

Overview

Programs

Undergraduate:

B.A., Physics

B.S., Physics: Physics Option, Astrophysics Option

Minor in Physics

Graduate:

M.S., Physics

The Physics and Astrophysics Majors

Quarks, black holes and chaotic systems–discoveries like these make front-page news as physicists continue to learn about the universe’s fundamental structure. Studying how matter and energy behave, beginning physics majors and senior physicists alike find challenges and excitement in solving problems and discovering new concepts. Physicists in business and industry work with revolutionary technology, such as lasers, superconductors, and modern electronic and optical devices. Jobs in these fields are often in high demand and pay well.

Perhaps the most fundamental of all sciences, physics provides a background for understanding other scientific disciplines, as well as many aspects of everyday life. Physics principles are crucial to such diverse applications as home electrical wiring, the motion of a rocket or skydiver, solar energy, and an echocardiogram of the human heart. Thus, understanding physics helps us make sense of our world.

Careers

Many students go on to advanced degrees in Physics or related fields. The Department’s majors have been accepted by the nation’s best graduate schools. Other students go to work immediately. Graduates fill a variety of scientific and technical positions in business and industry, including research scientist, technical staff member or manager, technical salesperson or business owner. Others teach in high schools, community colleges or universities Some become medical physicists or physicians.

Academic Advisement

All Physics Majors must consult the appropriate Department faculty advisor each semester before registering. Undergraduate Advisor: Say- Peng Lim; Graduate Advisor: Miroslav Peric.

Student Learning Outcomes of the Undergraduate Program

Students earning a Bachelor Degree in the Department of Physics and Astronomy will:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of physical principles used to model natural phenomena;

2. Demonstrate ability to convey physical concepts with mathematical expressions, and effectively derive quantitative predictions from a model through mathematical analysis;

3. Demonstrate understanding of scientific methodology, including:

a. data collection from observations, setting up laboratory experiments and data collection from experiments,

b. analysis of data,

c. testing of a model or hypothesis by comparing with data;

4. Demonstrate competency in using computer tools, including:

a. use of software programs for data analysis and presentation,

b. numerical analysis,

c. computer simulations;

5. Demonstrate special knowledge of their subprogram;

6. Communicate clearly and articulately about physical concepts, findings and interpretations in oral presentations; and

7. Acquire ability to write clear, organized and illustrated technical reports, with proper references to previous work in the area.

Department Programs

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers 2 Undergraduate Degrees and a Graduate degree. The Undergraduate Degree Programs are the B.S. Degree in Physics (with 2 options) and the B.A. Degree in Physics. The Draduate Degree is an M.S. Degree in Physics. A Minor in Physics also is offered.

The B.S. Program in Physics is designed for students who desire to (1) pursue a career in physics-related research and development either in industry or government or (2) prepare for graduate work in physics or related subjects. The B.S. Program in Physics has 2 options: Option I—Physics, and Option II—Astrophysics.

Option I is a balanced program in experimental and theoretical physics. This Option can be specialized toward applications in engineering or a more mathematical approach to theoretical physics. This is accomplished by the appropriate choice of the elective courses via consultation with the Department undergraduate advisor.

Option II specializes in applications of physics to astrophysical problems and may be tailored to be more experimental or theoretical in nature.

The B.A. Program in Physics is designed for students seeking a broad foundation in physics as part of a liberal arts education in the arts and sciences. It is particularly appropriate for those students (1) seeking a secondary teaching career or (2) planning to combine physics with other disciplines such as music, law and business.

The M.S. Program in Physics provides the student with an opportunity for advanced study in physics and to develop skills to do independent research. It prepares the student for the Doctoral Program in Physics and related fields or for more technical jobs in research and development.

The Minor in Physics is available for students who wish to augment their major field of study. It is particularly appropriate for those students in engineering and the other sciences and mathematics who desire to develop interdisciplinary skills.

General Education

Knowledge of a foreign language is viewed as an asset by many potential employers and may be beneficial for graduate study in Physics. Students are encouraged to study at least 1 foreign language, which may be applied to General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies.