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Physics & Applied Physics Majors

Majors

The Department of Physics & Applied Physics offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Physics and a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Engineering Physics.

PHYSICS MAJOR

The major has three options:

  • General Option
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics Option
  • Radiological Health Physics Option

General Option

The General option provides students with a launching pad for a wide range of career choices, from academic appointments in universities to technical positions in industry, from research in national laboratories to science policy in government. It superimposes technical elective courses chosen by the student and his/her academic advisor on a general physics foundation of the kernel courses. The special non-physics electives may be in any of the engineering fields, computer science, mathematics, biology or chemistry. Students pursuing this course of study develop a broad and solid grounding in physics (with 60 credits of physics coursework required for graduation), and concurrently acquire a background in related scientific disciplines. Research opportunities in many subfields of physics provide students with the necessary training to either pursue graduate studies to explore deeper into the world of physics or branch out into interdisciplinary fields as their passion leads them.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Option

Astronomy and Astrophysics focuses on studies of celestial objects and phenomena beyond our planet earth, using techniques of observational astronomy, computational modeling, rocket-launched instruments and satellite observations. This option will prepare students specifically interested in pursuing careers in this field. Specialty courses include optical system design, scientific computing, computerized data-acquisition, image processing and statistical data analysis. Currently, there are 8 courses relevant to the Astronomy and Astrophysics option. Students interested in this option will take 4 of those courses as physics electives as part of the Physics degree requirements, and be able to take cross-disciplinary special electives in earth and atmospheric sciences, computer science, math, chemistry and engineering.

Radiological Health Physics Option

Radiological Health Physics involves the study of the effects of radiation and radioactivity on life processes. It also can be called radiation protection science and is particularly involved with the effects of radiation on the human body and the control of such radiation. A graduate of this curriculum would enter the profession of health physics, which is devoted to the protection of man and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation, while at the same time making it possible for our advancing civilization to enjoy all of the benefits resulting from uses of radiation.

View all the complete Degree Pathways.

ENGINEERING PHYSICS MAJOR

The Engineering Physics degree is designed for students whose interests and career objectives span both physics and engineering. It is aimed at filling an increasing need of a nimble workforce trained for success in the technological world of today, where the traditional disciplinary lines between science and engineering are being continually blurred. It prepares students for professional careers where advanced rigorous math skills, experience in computer modeling, a high level of critical and independent thinking and familiarity with engineering principles are required, including the research and development in emerging technologies.

The major has two options:

  • Mechanical Engineering Option
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Option

Mechanical Engineering Option

The Mechanical Engineering option includes about a quarter of the required courses and two-thirds of the elective courses to be from Mechanical Engineering, in addition to core, math and chemistry courses common to both Physics and Engineering Physics degree pathways. These include Statics, Strength of Materials, Materials Science for Engineers, Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer. The option provides the flexibility to continue on to graduate degrees in either Mechanical Engineering or Physics.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Option

The Electrical and Computer Engineering option includes about a quarter of the required courses and two-thirds of the elective courses to be from Electrical and Computer Engineering, in addition to core, math and chemistry courses common to both Physics and Engineering Physics degree pathways. These include Application Programming, two semesters of Circuit Theory and basic Circuits Labs, and Logic Design. The option provides the flexibility to continue on to graduate degrees in either Electrical and Computer Engineering or Physics.

View all the complete Degree Pathways.

BACHELOR'S-TO-MASTER'S

To encourage outstanding undergraduate students to continue their studies toward an advanced degree, the Department of Physics & Applied Physics has instituted a program of accelerated study which leads to a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree. Every full-time student with a grade point average of 3.0 or above at the end of the junior year is eligible to be admitted to this program. Admission to the combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program is an honor conferred on the student that carries with it distinct benefits, for example, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admittance into the graduate program. The student may or may not decide to take advantage of the honor conferred, and can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in exactly the same way as a student not admitted to the accelerated program. For more information, see graduate catalog.

For additional information about programs, contact the Department of Physics & Applied Physics.