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Department of Physics

Physics Undergraduate Program

The Department of Physics provides two undergraduate degree programs:

A Physics Minor is also available for students working toward a degree in other fields.

The Bachelor of Science degree is recommended for those students planning to work in industry immediately upon graduating, or for those students who wish to pursue graduate studies in physics. Students wishing to pursue a career in teaching will work with both the Department of Physics and the School of Education.

Physics majors will study classical physics (mechanics, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light) and modern physics (Einstein's theory of relativity, and quantum mechanics), along with applications to atomic, molecular, nuclear, solid-state, and statistical physics. Throughout their study of physics, students learn applications that lead to a variety of specialized fields of study. For example, classical mechanics introduces the techniques of the mechanical and civil engineer, solid-state physics has applications to the theory of semiconductors and transistors, bringing students into contact with electrical engineering and the electronics industry, and nuclear physics acquaints the student with nuclear fission and nuclear fusion reactions.

The Physics Department maintains teaching and research laboratories in which students develop measurement and data-analysis skills. Seniors develop individual research projects suited to their interests. Students are offered several broad categories of specialization:

  • Theoretical: Our theoretical group offers research opportunities in mathematical physics: optical properties of solids; two-dimensional states of electrons in the presence of strong magnetic fields and charge impurities; the connection of simple rules to complex phenomena such as self-organized criticality, self-similar structures, and power laws; and elementary particle physics concentrating on gauge field theories, quantum chromodynamics and weak interactions.

  • Experimental: Experimental research opportunities are in the areas of thin film physics, optical coatings, nonlinear optical properties of materials and holographic data storage, studies of the photon yields of scintillating optical fibers, and the magneto-optic Kerr effect.

A degree in Physics opens the door to a variety of scientific and technical careers. Physicists are employed in industrial and national laboratories, and work with other scientists and engineers. Such industrial functions may include research and development in lasers and electro-optics, radiation damage, and measurement and control. Many students choose to continue their education by pursuing graduate studies. Teaching at any level from primary through college is another career possibility. Because of the fundamental nature of the subject, a Bachelor's degree in Physics is an ideal point of departure for specialized study in almost any field, from astronomy to philosophy to music. See also our Physics Career Opportunities page.

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Written by: Edward Ackad (

Modified: Feb 25, 2014

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