Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chair and Associate Professor: C. Frederickson (PhD), 450-5900
Professor: S. Addison (PhD), D. Burris (PhD), R. Mehta (PhD), W. Slaton (PhD)
Associate Professor: S. Austin (PhD), N. Gaiser (PhD), A. Mason (PhD), A. Walker (PhD)
Assistant Professor: B. Menon (PhD),
Senior Lecturer: N. Austin (MS)

[1] Purposes

Curricula offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy serve two main purposes: first, to contribute to the knowledge and awareness of non-science students in order to prepare them to appreciate and understand the nature of the physical world and how science operates to achieve comprehension of the physical world; second, to prepare science students for graduate study or the workplace. A range of courses designed for the physics major are offered to establish a broad and secure foundation in any of several disciplines in the field.

[2] Honors in Physics

[Jump to Recognition of Academic Achievement for general information about Honors in the Majors.]

Junior and senior students with appropriate grade point averages and having the consent of the department may be allowed to participate in a program that, when successfully completed, will allow them to graduate with Honors in Physics. This program will consist of not less than two semesters of research in physics or astronomy and the writing and oral defense of an honors thesis.

To jump to a particular program of study, use these links:

Degree Programs: BS, Physics | BS, General Science
Physics Core and Tracks: Physics Core | Physics | Biological Physics | Chemical Physics | Mathematical Physics | Physical Science | Engineering Physics
Minors: Physics | Physical Science

[3] Bachelor of Science

[3.1] Major in Physics

A physics degree is an excellent preparation for much more than a career in physics. The technical expertise and cognitive skills acquired in earning a physics degree are valuable in many endeavors.

The BS in physics makes the advantages of a physics degree available to a wide range of students. The program allows the student to choose one of a number of tracks to fit his or her interests and goals. The tracks are physics, biological physics, chemical physics, mathematical physics, physical science, and engineering physics.

A BS degree with a major in physics requires the successful completion of 120 hours (126 hours for the engineering physics track) including (1) the UCA Core: complete 38 hours to meet lower-division UCA Core requirements and complete upper-division UCA Core requirements using major, minor, or elective courses (see the UCA Core requirements); (2) degree requirements; (3) major requirements listed below; and (4) a minor, if required, to be worked out with the student’s minor advisor.

Abbreviation Key – UCA Core Program

[3.1.1] Physics Core Requirements (34 hours)

All tracks of the BS in physics program—with the exception of the engineering physics track—require completion of a 34-hour core, consisting of 19 hours of physics, and 12 hours of mathematics, and 3 hours of writing.

Physics Core courses

PHYS 1441 University Physics 1*
PHYS 1442 University Physics 2*
PHYS 2443 University Physics 3*
PHYS 3210 Experiments in Physics 1
PHYS 3220 Experiments in Physics 2
PHYS 4111 Senior Capstone 1
PHYS 4211 Senior Capstone 2 [UD UCA Core: Z]
*For tracks other than the physics track, the University Physics course sequence may be replaced by the College Physics course sequence:
PHYS 1410 College Physics 1
PHYS 1420 College Physics 2
PHYS 2430 College Physics 3

Physics Core mathematics courses

MATH 1496 Calculus I
MATH 1497 Calculus II
MATH 2471 Calculus III

Physics Core writing course

WRTG 3310 Technical Writing [UD UCA Core: C]

Completion of the physics core will partially satisfy the Upper-Division (UD) UCA Core. Though students may choose any upper-division courses with the appropriate designations, it is suggested that they consider one of two courses to satisfy the balance of the UD UCA Core:

PHIL 3320 Ethics [UD UCA Core: I, R] offered spring semester of odd years
or
PHIL 3325 Political Philosophy [UD UCA Core: I, R] offered spring semester of even years

[3.1.2] Physics Track (67 hours)

This is the traditional physics track, offering excellent preparation both for those planning a physics- or astronomy-related career, including graduate school, and for those desiring a physics degree for entry into other fields, such as engineering. The program is flexible and can be tailored to the needs and interests of the individual student by using electives, of which at least 6 hours are required. The student’s advisor will work closely with the student to achieve the optimal curriculum for the student.

For a suggested sequence of courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

In addition to the physics core, the following courses are required:

Physics courses in addition to the physics core

PHYS 2320 Introduction to Computational Physics
PHYS 3341 Mathematical Methods in Physics
PHYS 3342 (or ENGR 3342) Mechanics
PHYS 3343 (or ENGR 3343) Thermal Physics
PHYS 3360 (or ENGR 3360) Electromagnetism 1
PHYS 3361 (or ENGR 3361) Electromagnetism 2
PHYS 3353 Quantum Theory 1

Major electives

Six (6) hours approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Mathematics course in addition to the physics core

MATH 3331 Differential Equations

Computer Science course

CSCI 1340 Introduction to Programming

Physics hours required: 46
Mathematics hours required: 15
Computer Science hours required: 3
Writing hours required: 3

TOTAL: 67

[3.1.3] Biological Physics Track (79 hours)

The biological physics track offers a physics-centered curriculum for students planning to enter medical school. It also serves as an excellent entry into medical physics and health-related fields, including graduate study. Note: It appears that one of the best predictors for acceptance into medical school is a physics degree. This track does not require a minor.

For a suggested sequence of physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

In addition to the physics core, the following courses are required:

Physics courses in addition to the physics core

PHYS 3343 (or ENGR 3343) Thermal Physics
PHYS 3345 Optics

Mathematics course in addition to the physics core

MATH 2311 Statistical Methods I
or
MATH 4371 Introduction to Probability [UD UCA Core: R]

Chemistry courses in addition to the physics core

CHEM 1450 College Chemistry I
CHEM 1451 College Chemistry II
CHEM 2401 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 3411 Organic Chemistry II

Biology courses in addition to the physics core

BIOL 1440 Principles of Biology I
BIOL 1441 Principles of Biology II
BIOL 2490 Genetics
BIOL electives (8 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics hours required: 25
Mathematics hours required: 15
Chemistry hours required: 16
Biology hours required: 20
Writing hours required: 3

TOTAL: 79

[3.1.4] Chemical Physics Track (80 hours)

The chemical physics track provides an excellent preparation for entering the chemistry-oriented industrial work force or for continued study in engineering or graduate school.

This track does not require a minor. However, the chemistry courses required by the track are more than sufficient for a minor in chemistry, and the requirements for a mathematics minor are nearly met by the mathematics courses required by the physics core and the track.

For a suggested sequence of physics, mathematics, and chemistry courses, contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

In addition to the physics core, the following courses are required:

Physics courses in addition to the physics core

PHYS 3341 Mathematical Methods in Physics
PHYS 3342 (or ENGR 3342) Mechanics
PHYS 3343 (or ENGR 3343) Thermal Physics
PHYS 3360 (or ENGR 3360) Electromagnetism 1
PHYS 3361 (or ENGR 3361) Electromagnetism 2
PHYS 3353 Quantum Theory 1

Mathematics course in addition to the physics core

MATH 3331 Differential Equations [UD UCA Core: C]

Chemistry courses

CHEM 1450 College Chemistry I
CHEM 1451 College Chemistry II
CHEM 2401 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 3411 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 3520 Quantitative Analysis
CHEM 4450 Physical Chemistry I

Physics hours required: 37
Mathematics hours required: 15
Chemistry hours required: 25
Writing hours required: 3

TOTAL: 80

[3.1.5] Mathematical Physics Track (79 hours)

The mathematical physics track is intended for those students who are particularly interested and strongly motivated both in physics and in mathematics. It offers an excellent preparation for graduate study in theoretical physics, mathematical physics, computational physics, applied mathematics, and engineering. This track does not require a minor.

For a suggested sequence of physics and mathematics courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

In addition to the physics core, the following courses are required:

Physics courses in addition to the physics core

PHYS 3341 Mathematical Methods in Physics
PHYS 3342 (or ENGR 3342) Mechanics
PHYS 3343 (or ENGR 3343) Thermal Physics
PHYS 3353 Quantum Theory 1
PHYS 3354 Quantum Theory 2
PHYS 3360 (or ENGR 3360) Electromagnetism 1
PHYS 3361 (or ENGR 3361) Electromagnetism 2
PHYS 4341 Advanced Mathematical Physics
PHYS 4351 Computational Physics

Mathematics courses in addition to the physics core

MATH 3331 Differential Equations [UD UCA Core: C]
MATH 4362 Advanced Calculus I [UD UCA Core: Z]
MATH 4363 Advanced Calculus II
MATH 4371 Introduction to Probability [UD UCA Core: R]
MATH 4385 Complex Analysis
MATH electives (3 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics hours required: 46
Mathematics hours required: 30
Writing hours required: 3

TOTAL: 79

[3.1.6] Physical Science Track (58 hours)

The physical science track is intended for those students who are interested in physical science but do not intend to specialize in either physics or chemistry. The program is very flexible and can be tailored to the particular needs and interests of the individual student by using electives, of which at least 12 hours are required—six in physics and six in chemistry. The student’s advisor will work closely with the student to achieve the optimal curriculum for the student. This track requires a minor and is an excellent choice for students interested in STEMteach.

For a suggested sequence of physics and chemistry courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

In addition to the physics core, the following courses are required:

PHYS electives

Nine (9 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chemistry courses in addition to the physics core

CHEM 1450 College Chemistry I
CHEM 1451 College Chemistry II
CHEM 2401 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM electives (3 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics hours required: 28
Mathematics hours required: 12
Chemistry hours required: 15
Writing hours required: 3

TOTAL: 58

[3.1.7] Engineering Physics Track (92 hours)

The engineering physics track is designed for the student whose interests lie in the application of the knowledge and methods of physics in industrial and practical situations. It offers excellent preparation both for immediate entry into the industrial work force and for engineering graduate school. The program is the largest of the physics tracks at a total of 126 degree hours. The courses in this track build upon each other and must be taken in the order laid out in the Academic Map. The student’s advisor will work closely with the student to achieve an optimal integration of studies and practical experience. This track does not require a minor.

For a suggested sequence of courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Map for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site).

This track does not use the physics core listed in §3.1.1 above.

Required physics courses

PHYS 1441 University Physics 1
PHYS 1442 University Physics 2
PHYS 2443 University Physics 3
PHYS 3360 (or ENGR 3360) Electromagnetism 1
PHYS 3361 (or ENGR 3361) Electromagnetism 2

Required mathematics courses

MATH 1496 Calculus I
MATH 1497 Calculus II
MATH 2471 Calculus III
MATH 3331 Differential Equations [UD UCA Core: C]

Required writing course

WRTG 3310 Technical Writing [UD UCA Core: C]

Required philosophy course

PHIL 3320 Ethics [UD UCA Core: I, R]

Required computer science courses

CSCI 1470 Computer Science I
CSCI 1480 Computer Science II

Required engineering courses

ENGR 1301 Introduction to Engineering
ENGR 2311 Statics
ENGR 2447 Electronics
ENGR 3311 Dynamics
ENGR 3410 Microcontrollers
ENGR 3447 Microelectronics
ENGR 3421 Robotics 1
ENGR 4421 Robotics 2
ENGR 4311 Senior Design 1
ENGR 4312 Senior Design 2 [UD UCA Core: Z]

Major elective courses

Ten (10) hours of engineering electives approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Three (3) hours of physics electives approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics hours required: 21
Mathematics hours required: 15
Computer science hours required: 8
Engineering hours required: 45
Writing hours required: 3
Philosophy hours required: 3

TOTAL: 95

[3.2] Minor in Physics (24 hours)

Physics course requirements

PHYS 1441 University Physics 1*
PHYS 1442 University Physics 2*
PHYS 2443 University Physics 3*
PHYS 3210 or 3220 Experiments in Physics
PHYS 3342 (or ENGR 3342) Mechanics** The University Physics course sequence may be replaced by the College Physics course sequence:

PHYS 1410 College Physics 1
PHYS 1420 College Physics 2
PHYS 2430 College Physics 3

Electives

A minimum of 7 hours approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. These may include up to 3 hours of special problems.

Related requirements

MATH 1496 Calculus I
MATH 1497 Calculus II
MATH 2471 Calculus III

[3.3] Major in General Science

See the General Science page (Interdisciplinary Programs).

[3.4] Minor in Physical Science (24 hours)

CHEM 1450 and 1451 and either 2401 or 3520; PHYS 1410 and 1420 (or PHYS 1441 and 1442), and either 2411 or 2430 (or 2443); MATH 1390 and 1392, or 1580, or equivalent. Notes: 1.) Three upper-division hours in physics or chemistry are required to meet the general requirement for a minor. 2.) PHYS 1400, 1401, and 1405 cannot be used to satisfy the minor.

[5] Course Links (PHYS, ENGR)

Follow this link for PHYS – Courses for Non-Majors course descriptions: course link.
Follow this link for PHYS – Courses for Departmental Majors course descriptions: course link.
Follow this link for ENGR course descriptions: course link.