Physics

Norah Berrah, professor and head of the department of physics, is an internationally known researcher and advocate for women in STEM fields. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Professor Norah Berrah, an internationally known researcher and advocate for women in STEM fields.

Course descriptions

Physics, a fundamental and quantitative science, involves the study of matter and energy, and interactions between them. The subject is generally divided into mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics, and quantum physics. These form the foundation for present-day research areas, which include astrophysics, atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and the physics of particles and fields. In addition to a knowledge of physics, students gain a rigorous training in logical thinking and quantitative problem solving. An education in physics can also provide an entry into many other fields such as biophysics, geophysics, medical physics, and engineering, as well as into less technical fields such as secondary education, technical sales, and science writing. Many students have also found that physics is an excellent preparation for the study of medicine, dentistry, or law.

The preferred introductory sequence for a major in physics, common to all physics degree programs, consists of PHYS 1600Q, 1601Q, and 1602Q. There are two options for the Bachelor of Science degree in physics: (1) the general option for students seeking to further their physics studies in graduate school and/or a career in research, and (2) the applied option, for students seeking graduate study in another field, medicine or dentistry, or a technical career in industry. The Bachelor of Arts degree in physics is ideal for pre-medical, pre-dental, or pre-veterinary students, students seeking double majors, or students seeking a middle or high school teaching career.

There is also a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics offered jointly with the School of Engineering with possible emphases on Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Materials Science and Engineering. There is also a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics-Physics that is offered jointly with the Department of Mathematics.

Students satisfy the information literacy competency exit requirements in the Physics Major by passing PHYS 2300 and 2501W, both required courses for the Physics Major. The University’s computer technology and writing competency requirements are achieved by passing PHYS 2501W. These requirements apply to both the Physics B.S. and the B.A. degrees. Courses that further enhance competencies are PHYS 2200 for computer technology, and PHYS 4096W for writing skills.

Bachelor of Science, General Option

A total of 48 credits from 2000-level or above courses in physics, other sciences, mathematics, or engineering are required. Among these, 36 credits must be physics courses. The 36 credits of physics must include PHYS 2300, 2501W, 3101, 3201, 3202, 3300, and 3401, and at least three credits of an advanced laboratory (PHYS 2502, 3150, or 4900). It is strongly recommended that students going on to graduate school in physics take PHYS 3402. All students are strongly encouraged to participate in an undergraduate research project. An experimental research project (PHYS 4099) may count towards the advanced laboratory requirement. No more than six credits from PHYS 4099 may be counted towards this degree option. The general option for the Bachelor of Science degree requires a minimum of 12 credits from 2000-level or above related courses in mathematics, other sciences, or engineering.

Bachelor of Science, Applied Option

A total of 48 credits from 2000-level or above courses in physics, other sciences, mathematics, or engineering are required. Among these, 30 credits must be physics courses. The 30 credits must include PHYS 2300, 2501W, 3101, 3201, and 3300, plus a minimum of nine credits from the following eight courses: PHYS 2502, 3150, 4140, 4150, 4210, 4350, 4900, and 5621, with at least three of the nine credits being from an advanced laboratory (PHYS 2502, 3150, or 4900). These eight courses involve the application of knowledge from multiple basic subjects, i.e., from mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics, and quantum mechanics. All students are strongly encouraged to participate in an undergraduate research project. An experimental research project (PHYS 4099) may count towards the advanced laboratory requirement.

The applied option for the Bachelor of Science degree requires a minimum of 12 credits from 2000-level or above related courses in mathematics, other sciences, or engineering. To complete the 48 total required credits for the applied option, the remaining six credits may come from 2000-level or above courses in physics, other sciences, mathematics, or engineering. No more than six credits from PHYS 4099, may be counted towards this degree option.

Bachelor of Arts

A total of 36 credits from 2000-level or above courses in physics, other sciences, mathematics, or engineering are required. Among these, 24 credits must be physics courses which must include PHYS 2300, 2501W, 3101 and 3201, and 3300 along with sufficient credits of elective physics courses to meet the 24-credit requirement. No more than six credits from PHYS 4099 may be counted towards this degree.

The Bachelor of Arts degree requires a minimum of 12 credits from 2000-level or above related courses in mathematics, other sciences, or engineering.

Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics

Offered jointly by the School of Engineering and the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering Physics majors can concentrate in either (1) Electrical, (2) Materials Science and Engineering or (3) Mechanical. To complete the degree, students must satisfy the course requirements of the College or School granting the degree. The major requires 128 credits of course work.

Engineering Physics majors are required to complete the following:

Electrical Engineering

ECE 2001W, 3101, 3111, 3201, 4111, 4211, 4901, and 4902; CSE 2300W; MATH 2210Q; PHYS 3300; STAT 3345Q; Elective courses (4 credits).

Mechanical Engineering

ME 2233, 2234, 3220, 3227, 3242, 3250, 3253, 4972, and 4973W; CE 2110, 3110; STAT 3345Q; ME elective courses (6 credits); PHYS elective courses (6 credits).

Materials Science and Engineering

MSE 2001, 2002, 2053, 3001, 3002, 3003, 3004, 3055 and 3056, 4003W, 4901, and 4902W; CHEG 3156; PHYS 4150 and 4210; MSE elective courses (6 credits); Physics elective courses (3 credits).

Students in the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics are required to pass ENGR 1000 in addition to PHYS 2300 in order to satisfy the information literacy competency requirement; they are required to pass CSE 1100 or the equivalent, in addition to PHYS 2501W, in order to satisfy the computer technology competency requirement; and PHYS 2501W will suffice to satisfy the writing in the major requirement.

The options for the electives courses are specified in the Engineering Physics Guide to Course Selection.

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics-Physics

The B.S. degree in Mathematics-Physics may be completed by following either Track A, which has a physics emphasis, or Track B, which has a mathematics emphasis. Students in Track A should choose an advisor from the Physics Department, and those in Track B should choose an advisor from the Mathematics Department. The number of credits for 2000-level courses or above in the Track A is 30 in Physics and 19 in Mathematics, and for Track B these numbers are 21 credits in Physics and 28 in Mathematics. In either Track, the writing in the major and information literacy competencies are met using PHYS 2501W.

Track A: Physics Emphasis

In addition to the general education’s requirements of the University and College, the required courses for the Mathematics-Physics Major Track A (Physics Emphasis) are:

  1. Either: (i) MATH 2110Q (or 2130Q or 2143Q) and 2210Q and 2410Q (or 2420Q); or (ii) MATH 2141Q and 2142Q and 2143Q and 2144Q.
  2. All of: MATH 3146, 3410, 3510 and PHYS 2300, 2501W, 3101, 3201, 3202, 3300, 3401.
  3. Any nine credits from: PHYS 2200, 2400, 2502, 3102, 3150, 3989, 4093, 4095, 4096W, 4098, 4099, 3402, 4100, 4130, 4140, 4150, 4210, 4300, 4350, 4900.

Track B: Mathematics Emphasis

The required courses for the Mathematics-Physics Major Track B (Mathematics Emphasis) are:

  1. Either: (i) MATH 2110Q (or 2130Q or 2143Q) and 2210Q and 2410Q (or 2420Q) 2710 (or 2141Q and 2142Q) and 3146; or (ii) MATH 2141Q and 2142Q and 2143Q and 2144Q and 3146
  2. All of: PHYS 2300, 2501W, 3101, 3201, 3202, 3401.
  3. Any 3 credits from: PHYS 2200, 2400, 2502, 3102, 3150, 3300, 3989, 4093, 4095, 4096W, 4098, 4099, 3402, 4100, 4130, 4140, 4150, 4210, 4300, 4350, 4900.
  4. Any 4 courses from MATH 3150 (or 4110), 3151, 3160, 3210, 3230 (or 4210), 3330 (or 4310), 3370, 3410.

A minor in Physics is described in the Minors section.

 

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