Summary of Physics Options

The B.S. in Physics is a degree conferred by the College of Arts and Sciences.  It is a degree which prepares a student for either direct employment after graduation or in the pursuit of an advanced degree.

The Physics program requirements are composed of a core, which all physics majors must take, and a set of electives chosen arranged in four possible options depending on the interests of the student.

Core Requirements

  • Minimum Required Physics: 33 semester hours
    • Physics 1270-1271 (or 1250-1251 or 1250H-1251H or 1260-1261)
    • Physics 2095, 2300, 2301, 3700, 5400, 5500, 5700
  • Minimum Required Math & Programming: 20 semester hours
    • Calculus - Math 1151, 1152, 2153 (or equivalent)
    • Differential Equations - Math 2415 (or 2174 or 2255 or 5520H) 
    • Computer Programming - CSE 1222 (or CSE 1223 or CSE 1224 or Astronomy 1221)
  • Required 3rd Lab (choose one):
    • Physics 4700: Electronics Lab Course (this is a controlled access course)
    • Physics 5680: Big Data Analytics in Physics
    • Physics 5810: Computational Physics
  • General Education (GE) Requirements: ~37 semester hours

Optional Math Courses

If a student is particularly interested in math and is looking to take additional math courses beyond those that are required, we recommend the following. These courses are not required and are completely optional.

  • Math 2568 (Linear Algebra)
  • Math 4552: Complex Analysis - Introduction to analytic functions of a complex variable, integral theorems, power series, residues, conformal mapping. 3 credit hours.
  • Math 4580 & 4581: Abstract Algebra I & II - Topics in number theory, group theory, vector spaces and linear transformations, field theory, and field extensions. 3 credit hours each.
  • Math 4551: Vector Analysis - Vector operations; Jacobian and change of variables; divergence, gradient, and curl; Green's, Stokes', and divergence theorems; applications. 3 credit hours.
  • Math 5756 & 5757: Mathematical Methods in Relativity Theory I & II - The first semester covers Special relativity as moving frames; tensors, exterior algebra and exterior calculus; differentiable manifolds and space time structures; parallel transport, torsion and curvatures, metric compatibility; structure equations of differential geometry. The second semester covers Gravitation via geometry; stress energy tensor, fluid dynamics; energy momentum conservation; Einstein's field equations, geodesic world lines via Hamilton-Jacobi theory; Schwarzschild spacetime; gauge invariant perturbation theory. 3 credit hours each.

Physics Focus Requirements

Advanced Physics Focus

The Advanced Physics Focus is designed for those intending graduate level work in physics or astronomy. It provides an excellent preparation for graduate school.

  • Additional required physics courses (16 hours): Physics 5501H*, 5401H*, 5600, 5300
  • Free electives (11 hours): these electives are only needed if the student has not reached the 121 credit hour minimum required by the College of Arts and Sciences to graduate.

* If a student is not eligible to take 5501H they should take 5501. If 5401H is not taken, he or she can substitute this course with other physics courses that are not already required by this option.  Acceptable courses include Physics 3470 or any of the 68xx courses.

Applied Physics Focus

The Applied Physics Focus is designed for students who plan to get a job after graduation or whose career plans lie outside of the other focuses.  This focus has 15 hours of electives that students can target toward classes that will prepare them for their post-graduation plans.

  • Additional required physics courses (3-4 hours): choose one of the following: Physics 3470, 5261, 5401H, 5501H, 5501, 5300, 5600, 5680 (if not taken as a lab requirement) or any of the 68xx courses.
  • Technical Electives (15 hours): Students are required to choose 15 semester hours worth of electives that are 2000 level or above that are targeted toward their post-graduation plans.  See a physics advisor for assistance in choosing appropriate electives. You are also welcome to browse the list of recommended electives.
  • Free electives (8 hours): these electives are only needed if the student has not reached the 121 credit hour minimum required by the College of Arts and Sciences to graduate.

Life Sciences (Pre-Med) Focus

The Life Sciences Focus allows students to take the appropriate pre-requisite courses for Medical School alongside their major courses.

  • Additional required physics courses (3-4 hours): choose one of the following: Physics 3470, 5261, 5401H, 5501H, 5501, 5300, 5600, 5680 (if not taken as a lab requirement) or any of the 68xx courses.
  • Required GE courses (18 hours): Chemistry 1210, 1220; Biology 1113, 1114
  • Required Pre-Med courses (12 hours): Chemistry 2510, 2520, 2540, 2550
  • Free electives (11 hours): these electives are only needed if the student has not reached the 121 credit hour minimum required by the College of Arts and Sciences to graduate.

Physics Teaching Focus

The Physics Teaching Focus is designed for those seeking secondary level certification in physics (i.e., to be a high school teacher).  It has been designed to satisfy the College of Education Master of Education (Physics Certification) curriculum.  If you are interested in this option, contact the College of Education for further information.

  • Additional required physics courses (3-4 hours): choose one of the following: Physics 3470, 5261, 5401H, 5501H, 5501, 5300, 5600, 5680 (if not taken as a lab requirement) or any of the 68xx courses.
  • Required GE courses (13 hours): Chemistry 1210, 1220; Biology 1113
  • Required pre-teaching courses (9 hours): Astronomy 2291, Geography 5900, Earth Sciences 1110
  • Free electives (10 hours): these electives are only needed if the student has not reached the 121 credit hour minimum required by the College of Arts and Sciences to graduate.