A physics degree opens up a rich diversity of options to the graduating student. Approximately one-half of physics graduates go on to graduate school. Those not going on to graduate school enter employment in physics or such related fields as electronics, computers, or engineering, or as teachers. Reflecting the diversity of the major, there are two tracks open to physics undergraduates. The first option is the traditional one and is intended for those who are interested in experimental and theoretical physics as well as computational physics, and those who will be going on to graduate school. The second option emphasizes the application of computers to physics. A combination of skills in both physics and computer science is a valuable training for industrial employment.
In each of the options, students must achieve a grade-point average of at least 2.0 in physics and mathematics courses. When a course has an associated laboratory, the student must take both the lecture course and the laboratory concurrently, unless prior permission has been obtained from the department chair. Students should be aware that certain 300- and 400-level courses may be offered only in alternate years.
Students seeking teacher certification in physics must complete the requirements for the major in physics as well as satisfying other requirements for certification. Either track in the physics program may be followed. For details regarding secondary school physics teaching, students should consult the Teacher Preparation Program.
The requirements for the first two years of both tracks are almost identical to those of the engineering transfer program (005), giving the student three options during the first two years. The required courses are:
50:640:121 Unified Calculus I (4)
50:750:131 Elements of Physics I (3)
50:750:133 Elements of Physics Laboratory I (1)
50:198:111 Programming Fundamentals (R) (3)
50:198:112 Software Laboratory I (R) (1)
50:640:122 Unified Calculus II (4)
50:750:132 Elements of Physics II (3)
50:750:134 Elements of Physics Laboratory II (1)
50:160:115 Chemical Principles I (3)
50:160:125 Chemical Principles Laboratory I (1)
50:640:221 Unified Calculus III (4)
50:750:233 Electric Circuits I (3)
50:750:253 Mechanics I (3)*
50:160:116 Chemical Principles II (3)
50:160:126 Chemical Principles Laboratory II (1)
50:750:232 Elements of Modern Physics (3)
50:640:314 Elementary Differential Equations (3)
Students electing the traditional physics option should take 50:640:250 Linear Algebra.
The two physics tracks differ in the junior year, although there is still considerable overlap and flexibility.