This department supervises the following degree programs:
The department also supervises an applied physics option leading to the Ph.D. degree. This interdisciplinary option affords flexibility in coursework and area of research concentration. An M.S. degree involving industry internships is available.
The Bachelor of Science in Physics degree can be taken in any of four areas of concentration and requires 120 hours of credit. These concentrations allow students to tailor their studies towards their particular career goals. Please refer to the sample course schedules in this section for details about each concentration. Physics majors should declare a concentration by the beginning of their junior year.
Majors in this department are required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in physics courses and required adjunct courses and receive a C or better in each of these courses. Students also have a variety of university and College of Arts and Sciences requirements that must be met. Credit for any transferred physics hours will be handled on an individual basis with the department's undergraduate advisor.
Students are strongly encouraged to devote time to undergraduate research. Research areas in the department include atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter physics; nuclear physics; physics education; particle physics; astronomy; and biophysics.
The Bachelor of Science in Physics curricula are designed around the assumption that physics students will minor in mathematics. However, a variety of other minors complement a major in physics.
Professional Concentration. The professional concentration provides a traditional curriculum for students majoring
in physics and is intended to prepare them for graduate study or employment in the
private or government sector as a physicist. A typical sequence of courses begins
with PHYS 1408, 2401, 2402, and 2305 for a total of 15 hours at the introductory level.
These are usually followed by the intermediate and advanced sequences, PHYS 3304,
3305, 3306, 3401, 4302, 4304, and 4307. Students desiring to pursue advanced degrees
are recommended to take advanced topic courses.
The required mathematics courses for physics majors are MATH 1451, 1452, 2450, 3350 and 3351. MATH 3354 and 4354 may be substituted for 3350 and 3351. Students planning to pursue an advanced degree in physics should consult the physics undergraduate advisor about appropriate additional courses. Majors in this concentration are strongly encouraged to minor in mathematics.
Astrophysics Concentration. The astrophysics concentration is a variation of the professional concentration as is intended for students who have a particular interest in astronomy and astrophysics. In addition to preparing students for possible employment paths associated with the professional concentration, the astrophysics concentrations will prepare students to pursue graduate study in astronomy or astrophysics. This concentration has the same mathematics requirements as the professional option and very similar physics course requirements (with one less required upper-level PHYS course), but it also includes 14 hours of ASTR courses. Majors in this concentration are strongly encouraged to minor in mathematics and devote time to undergraduate research.
Applied Physics Concentration. The applied physics concentration is a variation of the professional concentration for students who wish to pursue more applied work, such as graduate study or employment in engineering fields. It requires the same coursework as the professional option, with an additional 9 required hours of an applied specialty. Majors in this concentration are strongly encouraged to minor in mathematics and to devote time to undergraduate research.
Secondary Education Concentration. The secondary education curriculum will prepare students for teaching physics and/or mathematics at the secondary education level. It provides a four-year path to certification for teaching at the middle school and high school levels. This concentration will enable a graduate to go directly from a college degree program into teaching math and/or physics at the secondary education level. Students selecting this option should expect to take additional hours of advanced physics coursework if they wish to be well prepared for graduate study in physics or employment as a physicist. Coursework for this concentration includes 12 hours of introductory physics courses, a one-hour fieldwork course, 12 hours of additional sophomore/junior/senior-level physics courses, 24 hours of mathematics courses, and 27 hours of education courses, all of which apply to the attainment of secondary teacher certification in the math/physics content area.
Minors for Physics Majors. A broad variety of minor subjects may be elected by a student majoring in physics. These include mathematics, biochemistry, physical chemistry, geophysics, computer science, business, and electrical engineering. A frequent minor choice for physics majors is mathematics because the requirements are automatically satisfied by the sequence of math courses required for a physics major. Students contemplating minors outside the College of Arts and Sciences should seek the advice of the physics undergraduate advisor before beginning that minor.
Minor in Physics. A minor in physics by majors outside of physics requires 18 semester hours, at least 6 of which must be at the 3000 level or higher and must be approved by the undergraduate advisor. The minor sequence is PHYS 1408, 2401, and 2402, plus 6 hours of approved 3000-level or above courses. Students must receive a grade of C or better in all courses applied toward a minor. Core astronomy courses (ASTR 1400 and 1401) may not be used to satisfy requirements for the physics major or minor.
Students are encouraged to participate in the Society of Physics Students, which sponsors several academic and social activities.
Minor in Astronomy. A minor in astronomy by students majoring in subjects other than physics requires 21 semester hours of physics and astronomy courses, at least 9 of which must be at the 3000 or higher level and which must be approved by the undergraduate advisor. The recommended sequence is PHYS 1408, PHYS 2401, PHYS 2402, with additional credits selected from among ASTR 2401, 4301, 4302; PHYS 3302; and undergraduate research (PHYS 3000) in astronomy. Under some circumstances, courses in engineering, geosciences or mathematics with significant astronomy content may be taken in place of the courses listed here.
A core curriculum consisting of PHYS 5301, 5303, 5305, and 5306 forms the nucleus of the master's and Ph.D. programs and is the basis for the master's examination and the Ph.D. preliminary examination. A student selecting any of the degree options may designate a minor consisting of a minimum of 6 hours of course credit in a related area and satisfy any additional requirements of the minor department. These 6 hours may be taken in the Department of Physics. Full-time study towards the master's degree should be completed in about two years.
All graduate students must enroll in PHYS 5101 for the first four semesters and a physics pedagogy course if on a teaching assistantship. PHYS 5307 and 5322 are tools courses that develop necessary skills for use in other courses and in research. They should be taken early.
M.S. in Physics, Thesis Option. A minimum of 24 hours of course credit plus 6 hours of thesis research with a minimum of 18 hours in the department. The thesis is defended in a final oral examination.
M.S. in Physics, Non-Thesis Option. 36 hours of course credit with a minimum of 24 hours in the department, plus passing a master's examination.
M.S. in Physics–Applied Physics, Thesis Option (degree being phased out). A minimum of 24 hours of course credit plus 6 hours of thesis research with a minimum of 9 hours in a specified applied area. This may be in a subfield of physics or in a related discipline, with the master's thesis from that area. The thesis is defended in a final oral examination.
M.S. in Physics–Applied Physics, Internship Option(degree being phased out). 24 hours of course credit with a separate course sequence
as discussed with the graduate advisor, plus two semesters of internship in a regional
industry or research laboratory arranged through the department. A report is written
following the internship period and defended in an oral examination. Twelve hours
of internship or report credit is required beyond the coursework.
The core courses for the Ph.D. in Physics degree are the same as those for the M.S. degree, plus PHYS 5302 and 6306. Further selections of advanced courses should be made in consultation with the graduate and/or research advisor.
Students seeking the Ph.D. degree must pass a preliminary examination and a qualifying examination as described in the departmental Graduate Booklet and in accordance with Graduate School requirements. Examination topics are drawn from general undergraduate physics and graduate core courses. The program requires a Ph.D. dissertation based on original research.
Students are encouraged to get involved in research early by taking PHYS 7000, which may count toward the degree. Thesis hours in PHYS 6000 (6 hours for the M.S. with thesis option) and 12 hours of PHYS 8000 (for the Ph.D.) should be taken as early as possible. Students must maintain a B average in the core courses in addition to the overall B average required by the Graduate School.
Nural Akchurin, Ph.D, Chairperson
Horn Professor: Estreicher
Bucy Professor: Wigmans
Professors: Akchurin, Duncan, Huang, Myles, Owen
Associate Professors: Gibson, Glab, Grave de Peralta, Kaye, Kunori, Lamp, Lee, Maccarone, Sanati, Thacker, Volobouev
Assistant Professors: Clark, Corsi, Sand
Research Professor: Lodhi
Adjunct Faculty: Cheng, Holtz, Sill
Joint Faculty: Blawzdziewicz, Hussain, Pal, Poirier, Quitevis