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Undergraduate Physics

Physics deals with the fundamental properties of space, time, energy, and matter, and how they relate and interact to provide the amazing richness of our universe. Physics has its roots in profound questions that, in one form or another, have been around since ancient times. Its development has led to increasingly deeper levels of beauty, simplicity, and interconnectedness.

The major in Physics provides a thorough foundation in classical and modern physics, including its theoretical, experimental and computational aspects. Physics majors combine scientific methodology, powerful mathematical techniques, and intuition in learning the different laws of Physics, acquiring along the way skills that are also transferable to other areas - skills such as simplification, conceptualization, idealization, and mathematical representation of phenomena. The training provided by the Physics Department has a wide range of applications and prepares students for a variety of alternative paths. Physical intuition and quantitative skills make physicists most valuable partners in interdisciplinary teams in areas ranging from molecular biology to financial analysis. The program provides the essential preparation for graduate study and research careers in physics, applied physics, astronomy, physical chemistry, engineering, and mathematics. In addition, it provides a solid preparation for students planning careers in education, medical physics, environmental science, computing, communications, medicine, and the military, to name just a few.

Program Objectives

  • Prepare students for careers as professional physicists, or for further study in graduate school, by providing a series of foundation courses and electives designed for comprehensive coverage of experimental, theoretical, and computational physics.
  • Prepare students to create the technology of the future through the Materials Physics program, which combines coursework in fundamental physics together with exposure to materials physics cutting-edge equipment and laboratory techniques, both in the classroom and in industrial internships.
  • Prepare students for careers in engineering, through the 3/2 engineering/physics dual degree program, which provides a thorough physics and mathematics background prior to their engineering education.
  • Ensure that students gain familiarity with modern computing equipment and software by requiring them to learn at least one programming language, and by using computers in lectures and laboratories for modeling physical systems, problem solving, and data acquisition and analysis.
  • Ensure that students have a solid background in mathematics by requiring the study of differential and integral calculus, as well as a variety of mathematical tools (differential equations, linear algebra, calculus of variations, operator techniques, Fourier series, and many others) that students learn in upper-division Physics courses.
  • Provide research opportunities for students through the various experimental and theoretical research efforts actively pursued in the Department, which include Health and Radiation Physics, Mathematical Physics, Quantum Field Theory, Many-Body Theory, Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, Computational Physics, Solid Sate Physics, Low Temperature Physics, and Optical Physics.
  • Expose students to the scientific methodology of hypothesis testing using a variety of tools including abstract thought, experimentation, and mathematical modeling.
  • Provide applicants to medical, dental, or pharmacy schools with an enriched curriculum that will give them a deeper understanding of the molecular processes that underlie all of chemistry and biology, enhancing their chances of entering a professional school.

Department faculty are in the process of reviewing the curricula. Please see the website for changes.