Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chair and  Associate Professor: Dr. Frederickson, 450-5900
Professor: Dr. Addison, Dr. Mehta
Associate Professors: Dr. Austin, Dr. Burris, Dr. Gaiser, Dr. Slaton
Assistant Professors: Dr. Mason, Dr. Menon, Dr. Walker
Lecturer: Ms. Austin

[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] The Honors Program in Physics

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.

[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 applied physics.

A BS degree with a major in physics requires the successful completion of 120 hours 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.

[3.1.1] Physics Core Requirements (28 hours)

All tracks of the BS in physics program require completion of a 28-hour core, consisting of 15 hours of physics and 13 hours of mathematics.

Physics Core, physics courses:

PHYS 1441 University Physics 1*
PHYS 1442 University Physics 2*
PHYS 2443 University Physics 3*
PHYS 3110 Junior Laboratory 1
PHYS 3120 Junior Laboratory 2
PHYS 4110 Senior Laboratory

*For the biological physics and physical science tracks, 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

Department faculty offer a variety of student research projects in many areas of physics. All physics majors are encouraged to participate in research, for which credit may be obtained.

[3.1.2] Physics Track (65 hours)

This is the standard 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 13 hours are required. The student's advisor will work closely with the student to achieve the optimal curriculum for the student.

This track requires a minor. The requirements for a mathematics minor are met by the mathematics courses required by the core and the track.

Another possibility is a double major in physics and mathematics, in which the student fulfills the separate major requirements of physics and mathematics. In that case, the requirement of a minor is waived.

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

Physics courses:

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 3360 (or ENGR 3360) Electromagnetism 1
PHYS 3361 (or ENGR 3361) Electromagnetism 2

Electives (13 hours minimum) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. These may include up to 3 hours of special problems.

Mathematics courses:

MATH 3320 Linear Algebra
MATH 3331 Differential Equations

Physics hours required: 46
Mathematics hours required: 19

TOTAL: 65

[3.1.3] Biological Physics Track (72 hours)

The biological physics track offers a physics-based 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 the courses required in addition to the core and for a suggested sequence of physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry courses, please contact the department chair or consult the program completion plan for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Program Completion Plan site).

Physics hours required: 24
Mathematics hours required: 16
Biology hours required: 16
Chemistry hours required: 16

TOTAL: 72

[3.1.4] Chemical Physics Track (81 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 met by the mathematics courses required by the core and the track.

For the courses required in addition to the core and for a suggested sequence of physics, mathematics, and chemistry courses, contact the department chair or consult the program completion plan for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Program Completion Plan site).

Physics hours required: 33
Mathematics hours required: 19
Chemistry hours required: 29

TOTAL: 81

[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 the courses required in addition to the core and for a suggested sequence of physics and mathematics courses, please contact the department chair or consult the program completion plan for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Program Completion Plan site).

Physics hours required: 42
Mathematics hours required: 37

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 and do not intend to specialize in either physics or chemistry. This is an excellent track for students interested in a career in teaching. UCA STEMteach fits seamlessly with this track. 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 18 hours are required-nine in physics and nine 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.

For the courses required in addition to the core and for a suggested sequence of physics and chemistry courses, please contact the department chair or consult the program completion plan for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Program Completion Plan site).

Physics hours required: 24
Mathematics hours required: 13
Chemistry hours required: 21

TOTAL: 58

[3.1.7] Applied Physics Track (79 hours)

The applied 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 school. The program is unique among the tracks in that it contains an internship option, whereby the student obtains real-world experience that is integrated into his/her studies. Alternatively, the student might work on an application-oriented research project. The program also requires business courses to provide the student background for the business environment. 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 the courses required in addition to the core and for a suggested sequence of courses, please contact the department chair or consult the program completion plan for the track (see links for the appropriate year at the Program Completion Plan site).

Physics hours required: 27
Mathematics hours required: 28
Chemistry hours required: 12
Computer science hours required: 3
Business hours required: 3
Internship/research hours required: 6

TOTAL: 79

[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 3110 or 3120 Junior Laboratory
PHYS 3342 (or ENGR 3342) Mechanics

Electives (minimum 8 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. These may include up to 3 hours of special problems.

* 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

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. Note: three upper-division hours in physics or chemistry are required to  meet the general requirement for a minor.

[4] Bachelor of Science in Education, Secondary Science Education

Note: Students are no longer being admitted to the BSE in Secondary Science Education. UCA STEMteach is now the path to licensure in science education.

[5] Course Links

[5.1] Courses In Physics (PHYS) for Non-Majors

Follow this link for PHYS course descriptions: course link.

[5.2] Courses in Physics (PHYS) for Department Majors

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

Page updated: February 16, 2013