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Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chair and Professor: C. Frederickson (PhD), 450-5900
Professor: S. Addison (PhD), D. Burris (PhD), R. Mehta (PhD), W. Slaton (PhD)
Associate Professor: S. Austin (PhD), A. Mason (PhD), A. Walker (PhD)
Assistant Professor: B. Menon (PhD), J. Lusk (PhD), L. Zhang (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

Students who major in Physics and who demonstrate exceptional ability may be invited to enter the Honors in the Major Program. For details, see Honors in the Major Program.

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

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

[3] Bachelor of Science

Abbreviation Key – UCA Core Program

[3.1] Major in Physics

[Back to program-of-study links]

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, and physical science. Those students interested in engineering should consider the BS in engineering physics below.

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, for the physical science track, to be worked out with the student’s minor advisor (the related mathematics courses nearly provide a minor in mathematics).

[3.1.1] Physics Core Requirements (34 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

All tracks of the BS in physics program require completion of 22-hours of core physics major courses, 18 hours of related course work, and courses designed to complete the particular degree track chosen. The 18 hours of related courses include mathematics and writing.

Physics Core major courses

PHYS 1301 Introduction to Physics
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

Related Mathematics and Writing courses

WRTG 3310 Technical Writing [UD UCA Core: C]

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

Completion of the physics core and related courses will partially satisfy the Upper-Division (UD) UCA Core. Students are encouraged to take the opportunity to explore other areas more deeply by completing courses designated as I, D, and R in areas outside of the sciences.

[3.1.2] Physics Track (67 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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 major 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

Additional Related Mathematics courses

MATH 3331 Differential Equations

Required Major Hours (49):
Physics: 49

Related Hours (18):
Mathematics: 15
Writing: 3

TOTAL: 67

[3.1.3] Biological Physics Track (78 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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 major courses in addition to the physics core

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

Chemistry major 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 major courses in addition to the physics core

BIOL 1440 Principles of Biology I
BIOL 1441 Principles of Biology II
BIOL 2490 Genetics
BIOL electives (4 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Related Mathematics courses

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

Required Major Hours (60):
Physics: 28
Chemistry: 16
Biology: 16

Related Hours (18):
Mathematics: 15
Writing: 3

TOTAL: 78

[3.1.4] Chemical Physics Track (79 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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 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 major 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

Chemistry major courses

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

Related Mathematics course

MATH 3331 Differential Equations [UD UCA Core: C]

Required Major Hours (61):
Physics: 40
Chemistry: 21

Related Hours (18):
Mathematics: 15
Writing: 3

TOTAL: 79

[3.1.5] Mathematical Physics Track (73 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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

Mathematics major courses in addition to the physics core

MATH 3331 Differential Equations [UD UCA Core: C]
MATH 4371 Introduction to Probability [UD UCA Core: R]
MATH electives (9 hours) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Required Major Hours (70):
Physics: 43
Mathematics: 27

Related Hours (3):
Writing: 3

TOTAL: 73

[3.1.6] Physical Science Track (61 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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:

Physics major electives

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

Chemistry major 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

Required Major Hours (46):
Physics: 31
Chemistry: 15

Related Hours (15):
Mathematics: 12
Writing: 3

TOTAL: 61

[3.2] Major in Engineering Physics

[Back to program-of-study links]

The engineering physics program 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 courses in this program 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.

For a suggested sequence of courses, please contact the department chair or consult the Academic Maps for the program (see links for the appropriate year at the Academic Maps site). Note that two Academic Maps have been prepared, one for the student starting calculus the semester they enter and one for the student who starts calculus in their second semester.

A BS degree with a major in engineering physics requires the successful completion of 125 hours including (1) the UCA Core: complete 38 hours to meet lower-division UCA Core requirements (Engineering Physics majors are exempted from the requirement to complete a life science course under the Critical Inquiry component of the Lower Division Core.) and complete upper-division UCA Core requirements using major, minor, or elective courses (see the UCA Core requirements); (2) degree requirements; and (3) major requirements listed below. The BS in Engineering Physics does not require a minor.

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 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

Related mathematics courses

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

Required major Hours:
Physics: 21
Computer science: 8
Engineering: 45
Philosophy: 3

Related Hours:
Mathematics: 15

TOTAL: 95

[3.3] Major in General Science

[Back to program-of-study links]

See the General Science page (Interdisciplinary Programs).

[3.4] Minor in Physics (24 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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

[3.5] Minor in Physical Science (24 hours)

[Back to program-of-study links]

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.

[4] 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.