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Raymond E. Frey, Department Head

541-346-5861 fax

120 Willamette Hall
1274 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1274


Dietrich Belitz, professor (condensed matter theory). Dipl Phys, 1980, Dr.rer.nat., 1982, Technical University Munich. (1987)

Gregory D. Bothun, professor (astronomy). BS, 1976, PhD, 1981, Washington (Seattle). (1990)

James E. Brau, Philip H. Knight Professor of Science (experimental elementary particle physics). BS, 1969, United States Air Force Academy; MS, 1970, PhD, 1978, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (1988)

Spencer Chang, assistant professor (theoretical high-energy physics). BS, 1999, Stanford; PhD, 2004, Harvard. (2010)

Eric Corwin, assistant professor (biophysics, soft condensed matter). BA, 2001, Harvard; PhD, 2007, Chicago. (2010)

Paul L. Csonka, professor (elementary particle theory). PhD, 1963, Johns Hopkins. (1968)

Nilendra G. Deshpande, professor (elementary particle theory). BSc, 1959, MSc, 1960, Madras; PhD, 1965, Pennsylvania. (1975)

Miriam Deutsch, professor (optical physics). BSc, 1988, PhD, 1996, Hebrew. (2000)

Russell J. Donnelly, professor (physics of fluids, superfluidity, astrophysics). BSc, 1951, MSc, 1952, McMaster; MS, 1953, PhD, 1956, Yale. (1966)

R. Scott Fisher, lecturer (astronomy). BS, 1993, PhD, 2001, Florida. (2012)

Raymond E. Frey, professor (experimental elementary particle physics). BA, 1978, California, Irvine; MS, 1981, PhD, 1984, California, Riverside. (1989)

Stephen Gregory, associate professor (solid state physics). BSc, 1969, Manchester; MSc, 1970, Essex; PhD, 1975, Waterloo. (1992)

Roger Haydock, professor (solid state theory). BA, 1968, Princeton; MA, PhD, 1972, ScD, 1989, Cambridge. (1982)

Stephen D. H. Hsu, professor (elementary particle theory). BS, 1986, California Institute of Technology; MS, 1989, PhD, 1991, California, Berkeley. (1997)

James N. Imamura, professor (astrophysics); director, Institute of Theoretical Science. BA, 1974, California, Irvine; MA, 1978, PhD, 1981, Indiana. (1985)

Timothy Jenkins, senior instructor (physics education). BA, 1975, Linfield College; PhD, 1992, Clarkson. (1992)

Stephen D. Kevan, professor (solid state physics). BA, 1976, Wesleyan; PhD, 1980, California, Berkeley. (1985)

Graham Kribs, associate professor (elementary particle theory). BASc, 1993, Toronto; PhD, 1998, Michigan, Ann Arbor. (2004)

Dean W. Livelybrooks, senior instructor (geophysics). BS, 1977, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MS, 1984, PhD, 1990, Oregon. (1996)

Stephanie Majewski, assistant professor (experimental elementary particle physics). BS, 2002, Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; PhD, 2007, Stanford. (2012)

Brian W. Matthews, professor (protein crystallography). BSc, 1959, BSc, 1960, PhD, 1964, Adelaide. (1969)

Benjamin McMorran, assistant professor (experimental condensed matter, optical physics). BS, 2000, Oregon State; MS, PhD, 2009, Arizona. (2011)

Stanley J. Micklavzina, senior instructor (physics education). BS, 1982, MS, 1985, Oregon. (1985)

Jens Nockel, associate professor (optical physics). Dipl. Phys., 1992, Hamburg; PhD, 1997, Yale. (2001)

Raghuveer Parthasarathy, associate professor (condensed matter physics, biophysics). BA, 1997, California, Berkeley; PhD, 2002, Chicago. (2006)

Michael G. Raymer, Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences (quantum optics and optical physics). BA, 1974, California, Santa Cruz; PhD, 1979, Colorado. (1988)

Stephen J. Remington, professor (protein crystallography). BS, 1971, Oregon State; PhD, 1977, Oregon. (1985)

James M. Schombert, professor (astronomy). BS, 1979, Maryland; MPhil, 1982, PhD, 1984, Yale. (1996)

Davison E. Soper, professor (elementary particle theory). BA, 1965, Amherst; PhD, 1971, Stanford. (1977)

Daniel Steck, associate professor (atom optics and nonlinear dynamics). BS, 1995, Dayton; PhD, 2001, Texas, Austin. (2004)

David M. Strom, professor (experimental elementary particle physics). BA, 1980, St. Olaf; PhD, 1986, Wisconsin, Madison. (1991)

Richard P. Taylor, professor (solid state physics). BS, 1985, PhD, 1988, Nottingham. CAD, 1995, Manchester School of Art; MA, 2000, New South Wales. (1999)

John J. Toner, professor (condensed matter theory). BS, 1977, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MA, 1979, PhD, 1981, Harvard. (1995)

Eric Torrence, professor (experimental elementary particle physics). BS, 1990, Washington (Seattle); PhD, 1997, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2000)

Steven J. van Enk, professor (theoretical optical physics). MSc, 1988, Utrecht; PhD, 1992, Leiden. (2006)

Hailin Wang, professor (quantum optics). BS, 1982, Science and Technology (China); MS, 1986, PhD, 1990, Michigan. (1995)

Special Staff

Robert Schofield, senior research associate (nuclear biophysics). BS, 1982, Brigham Young; PhD, 1990, Oregon. (1993)

Nikolai Sinev, senior research associate (experimental high energy physics). BS, 1968, PhD, 1974, Moscow State. (1993)

Frank Vignola, senior research associate (solar energy). BA, 1967, California, Berkeley; MS, 1969, PhD, 1975, Oregon. (1977)


Bernd Crasemann, professor emeritus. AB, 1948, California, Los Angeles; PhD, 1953, California, Berkeley. (1953)

Marvin D. Girardeau, professor emeritus. BS, 1952, Case Institute of Technology; MS, 1954, Illinois; PhD, 1958, Syracuse. (1963)

Rudolph C. Hwa, professor emeritus. BS, 1952, MS, 1953, PhD, 1957, Illinois; PhD, 1962, Brown. (1971)

Harlan Lefevre, professor emeritus. BA, 1951, Reed; PhD, 1961, Wisconsin. (1961)

Joel W. McClure Jr., professor emeritus. BS, 1949, MS, 1951, Northwestern; PhD, 1954, Chicago. (1954)

David K. McDaniels, professor emeritus. BS, 1951, Washington State; MS, 1958, PhD, 1960, Washington (Seattle). (1963)

John T. Moseley, professor emeritus. BS, 1964, MS, 1966, PhD, 1969, Georgia Institute of Technology. (1979)

Jack C. Overley, professor emeritus. BS, 1954, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; PhD, 1960, California Institute of Technology. (1968)

Kwangjai Park, professor emeritus. BA, 1958, Harvard; PhD, 1965, California, Berkeley. (1966)

George W. Rayfield, professor emeritus. BS, 1958, Stanford; PhD, 1964, California, Berkeley. (1967)

David R. Sokoloff, professor emeritus. BA, 1966, City University of New York, Queens; PhD, 1972, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (1978)

Robert L. Zimmerman, professor emeritus. BA, 1958, Oregon; PhD, 1963, Washington (Seattle). (1966)

The date in parentheses at the end of each entry is the first year on the University of Oregon faculty.

Undergraduate Studies

Physics, the most basic of the natural sciences, is concerned with the discovery and development of the laws that describe our physical universe. This endeavor serves, also, to directly benefit humankind: integrated circuits found in computers, mobile phones, and solar cells, lasers in DVD players and computer mice, and the Internet itself were developed from fundamental physics discoveries. As it involves the development of analytical, technical, problem-solving, and science communication skills, a major in physics provides a good start for many career paths. In addition to major and minor programs, the Department of Physics offers a variety of courses for nonmajors and health science premajor students.

Preparation. Entering freshmen should have taken as much high school mathematics as possible in preparation for starting calculus in their freshman year. High school study of physics and chemistry is desirable.

Transfer Students. Because of the sequential nature of the physics curriculum, it is useful for students from two-year colleges to complete as much as possible of calculus, differential equations, several-variable calculus, chemistry, and calculus-based physics (part of an associate's degree) before transferring. Those who transfer after two years should prepare for upper-division course work by taking one year of differential and integral calculus (the equivalent of MATH 251, 252, 253), one year of general physics with laboratory (the equivalent of PHYS 251, 252, 253, 290), general chemistry (the equivalent of CH 221, 222 or CH 224H, 225H), and, if possible, one term of differential equations and two terms of multivariable calculus (the equivalent of MATH 256 and MATH 281, 282). Students who transfer after attending a four-year college or university for more than two years should have completed a second year of physics. Transfer students should also have completed as many as possible of the university requirements for the bachelor’s degree (see Bachelor’s Degree Requirements under Registration and Academic Policies).

Careers. Fifty percent of graduates with bachelor’s degrees in physics find employment in the private sector working as applied physicists, software developers, managers, or technicians, typically alongside engineers and computer scientists. About 30 percent of students who earn an undergraduate degree continue their studies in a graduate degree program, leading to a career in teaching or research or both at a university, at a government laboratory, or in industry. In addition, a degree in physics is good preparation for a career in business. Students who have demonstrated their ability with a good record in an undergraduate physics program are generally considered very favorably for admission to medical and other professional schools.

Major Requirements

The major in physics leads to a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science degree (BS). Complete requirements are listed under Bachelor’s Degree Requirements in the Registration and Academic Policies section of this catalog. The bachelor of arts degree has a second-language requirement. Knowledge of a language other than English is recommended for students planning graduate study in physics.

The sequential nature of physics courses makes it imperative to start planning a major program in physics early. Interested students should consult the advising coordinator in the Department of Physics near the beginning of their studies.

The department offers three areas of emphasis for the physics major. The emphasis in traditional physics is designed for majors with a strong interest in studying physics in graduate school. The emphasis in applied physics is for majors who seek a less theoretical study of physics and a more applied focus in optics, electronics, and other project areas. A third emphasis is for majors preparing to teach physical sciences in middle or high school. All physics majors have the same curriculum for the first two years.

Common Curriculum

Complete the following courses or their equivalents:

General Chemistry (CH 221, 222) or Honors General Chemistry (224H, 225H)

Calculus I,II,III (MATH 251, 252, 253) or Honors Calculus I,II,III (MATH 261, 262, 263)

Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253)

Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256)

Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282)

Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353)

Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (PHYS 391)

Applied Physics Emphasis

Complete the following upper-division courses:

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354)

Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 412, 413)

Design of Experiments (PHYS 481)

Applied Core. Classical Optics (PHYS 424) and Modern Optics (PHYS 425) or Analog Electronics (PHYS 431) and Digital Electronics (PHYS 432)

Laboratory Core. Any combination of the four course options listed above not used to satisfy the applied core and Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493) topic modules to total 6 credits. Different topic modules of PHYS 491, 492, 493 (e.g., optics, instrumentation, fundamental) may be taken. Each laboratory core course is worth 2 credits in satisfying the 6-credit requirement

Physics Teaching Emphasis

Complete the following upper-division courses:

Topics in Astrophysics (ASTR 321)

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354)

Biological Physics (PHYS 362)

Physics Demonstrations (PHYS 420)

Analog Electronics (PHYS 431) and Digital Electronics (PHYS 432)

Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493) to total 8 credits

Two terms of Supervised Tutoring (PHYS 409) to total 6 credits

Physics Emphasis

Complete the following upper-division courses:

Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413). Note that PHYS 411 and 412 are sometimes offered out of sequence

Quantum Physics (PHYS 414, 415) and Topics in Quantum Physics (PHYS 417)

Upper-Division Laboratory. Any combination of Analog Electronics (PHYS 431), Digital Electronics (PHYS 432), or Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493) topic modules to total 6 credits. Different topic modules for PHYS 491, 492, 493 (e.g., optics, instrumentation, fundamental) may be taken. Each upper-division laboratory course is worth 2 credits in satisfying the 6-credit requirement

Physics Electives. Topics in Astrophysics (ASTR 321), Modern Science and Culture (PHYS 361), Biological Physics (PHYS 362), Electromagnetism (PHYS 422), Classical Optics (PHYS 424), Modern Optics (PHYS 425)

Undergraduate research is strongly encouraged. Approximately 50 percent of physics undergraduates engage in substantive research during their course of study—often starting with Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493). Contact the advising coordinator for more information.

Required courses must be taken for letter grades, with the exception of Supervised Tutoring (PHYS 409), and a grade point average of 2.00 (mid-C) or better must be earned in these courses. Courses beyond the minimum requirement may be taken pass/no pass (P/N). At least 20 of the upper-division credits must be completed in residence at the University of Oregon. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the physics advising coordinator.

Sample Programs

The following sample programs are designed for students who are preparing for employment in industry and choose the applied physics emphasis or who are preparing for graduate studies and choose the physics emphasis. The programs assume that students are prepared to take calculus in their freshman year. Consult the physics advising coordinator for assistance in planning a specific program adapted to a student’s individual needs. In addition to general graduation requirements, students should plan to take the following courses:

Common Curriculum
Freshman Year 35 credits
General Chemistry (CH 221, 222) 8
Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253) 12
Foundations of Physics Laboratory (PHYS 290), three terms 3
Calculus I,II,III (MATH 251, 252, 253) 12
Sophomore Year 28 credits
Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256) 4
Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282) 8
Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353) 12
Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (PHYS 391) 4
Applied Physics Emphasis
Junior Year 24 credits
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354) 4
Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 412, 413) 8
Electromagnetism (PHYS 422) 4
Analog Electronics (PHYS 431), Digital Electronics (PHYS 432) 8
Senior Year 20 credits
Classical Optics and Modern Optics (PHYS 424, 425) 8
Modern Optics Laboratory (PHYS 426) 4
Design of Experiments (PHYS 481) 4
Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493) 4
Physics Teaching Emphasis
Junior Year 26 credits
Topics in Astrophysics (ASTR 321) 4
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354) 4
Supervised Tutoring (PHYS 409) 6
Physics Demonstrations (PHYS 420) 4
Analog Electronics (PHYS 431), Digital Electronics (PHYS 432) 8
Senior Year 8 credits
Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 493) 8
Physics Emphasis
Junior Year 24–28 credits
Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413) 12
Electromagnetism (PHYS 422) 4
Upper-division laboratory (e.g. PHYS 426, 431, 432, 491, 492, 493) 4–8
Mathematics or physics electives or both 4
Senior Year 28–32 credits
Quantum Physics (PHYS 414, 415) 8
Topics in Quantum Physics (PHYS 417) 4
Upper-division laboratory (e.g., PHYS 426, 431, 432, 491, 492, 493) 4–8
Physics or mathematics electives or both 12
Sample Programs for Transfer Students

These sample programs are for transfer students who have completed two years of college work including one year of calculus, one year of general physics with laboratories, one year of general chemistry, and as many as possible of the university requirements for the bachelor’s degree. In addition to graduation requirements for the bachelor’s degree, transfer students should plan to take the following courses, depending on their area of emphasis:

Applied Physics Emphasis
Junior Year 32 credits
Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256) 4
Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282) 8
Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353) 12
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354) 4
Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (PHYS 391) 4
Senior Year 28–32 credits
Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 412, 413) 8
Electromagnetism (PHYS 422) 4
Classical Optics (PHYS 424) and Modern Optics (PHYS 425) 8
Upper-division laboratory (e.g., PHYS 431, 432, 491, 492, 493) 4–8
Design of Experiments (PHYS 481) 4
Physics Teaching Emphasis
Junior Year
30 credits
Topics in Astrophysics (ASTR 321) 4
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 354) 4
Biological Physics (PHYS 362) 4
Supervised Tutoring (PHYS 409) 6
Physics Demonstrations (PHYS 420) 4
Analog Electronics (PHYS 431), Digital Electronics (PHYS 432) 8
Senior Year
8 credits
Research Project I,II,III (PHYS 491, 492, 494) 8
Physics Emphasis
Junior Year 28 credits
Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256) 4
Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282) 8
Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353) 12
Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (PHYS 391) 4
Senior Year 40–44 credits
Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413) 12
Quantum Physics (PHYS 414, 415) 8
Topics in Quantum Physics (PHYS 417) 4
Electromagnetism (PHYS 422) 4
Upper-division laboratory (e.g., PHYS 424, 425, 426, 431, 432, 491, 492, 493) 4–8
Mathematics or physics electives or both 8

To be recommended by the faculty for graduation with honors in physics, a student must complete at least 46 credits in upper-division physics courses, of which at least 40 credits must be taken for letter grades, and earn at least a 3.50 grade point average in these courses.

As an alternative, undergraduate research leading to the defense of a thesis accompanied by at least a 3.30 grade point average can lead to recommendation for graduation with honors. Contact the director of undergraduate studies for more information.

Minor Requirements

Students seeking a minor in physics must complete a minimum of 24 credits in physics, of which at least 15 must be upper division. These credits must include Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353) or Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413). Four credits in Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (PHYS 391) or a 4-credit 400-level physics course completes the upper-division requirements. Course work must be completed with grades of C– or better or P. At least 12 of the upper-division credits must be completed in residence at the University of Oregon.

Prospective minors must take Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253) or the equivalent. General Physics (PHYS 201, 202, 203) may be substituted with the physics undergraduate advisor’s approval.


Students interested in engineering may complete preparatory course work at the University of Oregon before enrolling in a professional engineering program at Oregon State University (OSU) or elsewhere. The Department of Physics coordinates a three-plus-two program that allows a student to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics from Oregon and one in engineering from OSU. For more information, see Preparatory Programs in the Academic Resources section of this catalog.

Engineering students interested in semiconductor process engineering or polymer science may be interested in the nationally recognized industrial internship master’s program sponsored by the UO Materials Science Institute. For more information, see Materials Science Institute in the Research Institutes and Centers section of this catalog.

Preparation for Kindergarten through Secondary School Teaching Careers

The College of Education offers a fifth-year program for middle-secondary teaching licensure in physics and integrated sciences and a program for elementary teaching. Students considering a career pathway to teaching should consider following the physics teaching emphasis to prepare for the licensure programs. More information is available from the department’s education advisor, Dean Livelybrooks; see also the College of Education section of this catalog.

Graduate Studies

The Department of Physics offers graduate programs leading to the master of science degree in applied physics or to the master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees in physics with a variety of opportunities for research. Current research areas include astronomy and astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter physics, elementary particle physics, and optical physics.

The interdisciplinary Institute of Theoretical Science houses theoretical research in some of the above areas as well as in areas of overlap between chemistry and physics.

The Center for High Energy Physics conducts research in particle physics, much of it in laboratories outside Oregon.

The Materials Science Institute and the Oregon Center for Optics provide facilities, support, and research guidance for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the interdisciplinary application of concepts and techniques from both physics and chemistry to understanding physical systems.

Cooperative programs of study are possible in molecular biology through the Institute of Molecular Biology.

Pine Mountain Observatory

Pine Mountain Observatory, operated by the Department of Physics for research and advanced instruction in astronomy, is located thirty miles southeast of Bend, Oregon, off Highway 20 near Millican, at an altitude of 6,300 feet above sea level. The observatory has three telescopes—fifteen inches, twenty-four inches, and thirty-two inches in diameter—the largest governed by computer. All are Cassegrain reflectors. A wide-field CCD camera is available on the thirty-two-inch telescope. The site has an astronomers’ residence building and a caretaker’s house. Professional astronomical research is in progress at the observatory on every partially or totally clear night of the year, and the site is staffed year round.

Admission and Financial Aid

For admission to graduate study, a bachelor’s degree in physics or a related area is required with a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 (B) in advanced physics and mathematics courses. Submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), including the physics test, is required. Students from non-English-speaking countries must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Information about the department and the Graduate Admission Application are available through the department’s website.

Financial aid in the form of graduate teaching or research fellowships (GTFs) is available on a competitive basis to PhD students. GTFs require approximately sixteen hours of work a week and provide a stipend and tuition waiver. New students are typically eligible only for teaching fellowships.

The sequential nature of most physics courses makes it difficult to begin graduate study in terms other than fall. Furthermore, financial aid is usually available only to students who begin their studies in the fall.

To ensure equal consideration for fall term admission, the deadline for applications for financial aid is January 15. Late applications for admission may be considered until July 15.

Degree Requirements

Entering students should consult closely with their assigned advisors. Students showing a lack of preparation are advised to take the necessary undergraduate courses in order to remedy their deficiencies.

Students should consult the Graduate School section of this catalog for general university admission and degree requirements. Departmental requirements, outlined in a handbook for incoming students that is available in the department office, are summarized below.

Industrial Internships for Master’s Degrees Physics

These internships, sponsored by the Materials Science Institute, are described in the Research Institutes and Centers section of this catalog. Information and application materials are available through the institute.

Master of Science in Applied Physics

The applied physics master’s program leads to a professional MS degree, an alternative to the research-based PhD. It is designed to serve physics students whose primary interests lie in applied research and development rather than in basic research.

Admission. An important component of this degree program, the industrial internships, is administered by the Materials Science Institute. Students must apply to the institute for admission to the industrial internship program, which is a prerequisite for admission to the master’s program in applied physics. The internships in local and regional industries are designed to enhance the ability of physics graduates to obtain good jobs after graduation. Qualified students can complete this program in one year. Further information is available on the department website.

  1. A minimum of 24 graded credits in 500- or 600-level courses, a minimum of 10 credits in an industrial internship position, and a total number of credits between 45 and 53 (see 3 below) are required for the degree. A grade of B– or better must be achieved in each course applied to the graded-credit total. The overall GPA in physics courses must be 3.00 or better
  2. At least 9 credits in 600-level courses are required by the Graduate School. Other Graduate School requirements, including time limits, must also be satisfied
  3. Total credits required for the degree depend on the number of graded credits and internship credits the student earns. This allows flexibility in adjusting the balance between course work and the internship experience. The more graded credits a student earns, the fewer total credits are required for the degree. The minimum total required is 45 credits if the student earns 32 or more graded credits. The minimum required is 53 credits if the student earns only 24 graded credits. In general, 1 credit is added to the minimum total of 45 for each graded credit less than 32 a student earns. For example, a student who earns 28 graded credits needs a minimum total of 49 credits
  4. The internship requirement must be fulfilled through the industrial internship program. Internship credits are taken pass/no pass. A student typically earns 10 credits for every three months of full-time internship experience
  5. Graded credits must be selected from an approved departmental list. This list includes Modern Optics Laboratory (PHYS 526); Digital Electronics (PHYS 532); Design of Experiments (PHYS 581); and one from either Advanced Analog Electronics (PHYS 618) or Advanced Digital Electronics (PHYS 619)

Other 600-level physics courses qualify, but may require additional prerequisites. Some graduate-level courses in chemistry may qualify. Other courses may be added or substituted with the approval of the applied physics program advisor

Master of Science or Arts in Physics

The department offers a master of science or master of arts degree in physics. Typically this degree is based on course work and the master’s final examination. Detailed requirements can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook on the department’s website.

Candidates must pass a master’s examination or submit a written thesis or take a program of specialized courses. A single exam covering the four core subject areas—mechanics; electricity, magnetism, and optics; modern physics and quantum mechanics; and thermal and statistical physics—is used for both the master’s and doctoral qualifying examinations. For the master’s exam, a separate total score is obtained by removing, in each core area, the student’s problem with the lowest score. Material covered by the combined exam is primarily at the level of advanced undergraduate physics, but as much as one-third of the exam tests core graduate-level material. The examination is given each fall and spring, and master’s candidates must pass the examination by spring of the second year of study. The thesis option requires a minimum of 9 credits in Thesis (PHYS 503) or 3 credits in Research (PHYS 601) and 6 credits in Thesis (PHYS 503). The specified-courses option requires 40 graduate credits in physics, 36 of which must be selected from a list of courses approved by the department.

In addition to all the preceding requirements, candidates for the master of arts (MA) degree must demonstrate foreign-language proficiency.

The master’s degree program is typically completed in four terms, unless sufficient transfer credits are available, in which case it can be obtained in three.

Doctor of Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy degree (PhD) in physics is based primarily on demonstrated knowledge of physics and doctoral dissertation research. PhD students must achieve qualifying scores on the master’s and doctoral combined examination discussed above, and are required to pass the qualifying exam before the beginning of their third year of study. Students also must take and pass the core graduate sequences—Theoretical Mechanics (PHYS 611, 612), Statistical Physics (PHYS 613, 614), Electromagnetic Theory (PHYS 621, 622, 623), and Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 631, 632, 633)—as well as six "breadth’’ courses beyond the core. These breadth courses can be chosen from several areas of physics and allied areas such as mathematics, chemistry, and biology. At least two of the courses must be in a sequence.

Next, students must locate an advisor and an advisory committee, who then administer a comprehensive oral examination testing whether the student is ready to undertake dissertation research. The heart of the PhD requirements is then research leading to a doctoral dissertation.

Detailed information is available in the Graduate Student Handbook on the department’s website.

Physics Courses (PHYS)

101, 102 Essentials of Physics (4,4) Fundamental physical principles. 101: mechanics. 102: heat, waves, and sound; electricity and magnetism.

152 Physics of Sound and Music (4) Introduction to the wave nature of sound; hearing; musical instruments and scales; auditorium acoustics; and the transmission, storage, and reproduction of sound.

153 Physics of Light, Color, and Vision (4) Light and color, their nature, how they are produced, and how they are perceived and interpreted.

155 Physics behind the Internet (4) How discoveries in 20th-century physics mesh to drive modern telecommunications. Topics include electron mobility in matter, the development of transistors and semiconductors, lasers, and optical fibers.

156 (M) Scientific Revolutions (4) For nonscience majors. Surveys several major revolutions in views of the natural and technological world, focusing on scientific concepts and methodological aspects. Multilisted with GEOL 156M. 

157 (M) Information, Quantum Mechanics, and DNA (4) For nonscience majors. Introduction to the physical and chemical concepts explaining how information is stored in and transmitted by physical objects and molecules, including DNA. Multilisted with CH 157M. 

161 Physics of Energy and Environment (4) Practical study of energy generation and environmental impact, including energy fundamentals, fossil fuel use, global warming, nuclear energy, and energy conservation.

162 Solar and Other Renewable Energies (4) Topics include photovoltaic cells, solar thermal power, passive solar heating, energy storage, geothermal energy, and wind energy.

163 Nanoscience and Society (4) Explores the science behind scale-dependent properties of matter, focusing on its applications in futuristic nanotechnologies and the social and political issues that it raises. 

171 The Physics of Life (4) Explores how physical laws guide the structure, function, and behavior of living organisms, and examines the physical properties of biological materials. Topics span microscropic and macroscopic scales

196 Field Studies: [Topic] (1–2R)

198 Workshop: [Topic] (1–2R)

199 Special Studies: [Topic] (1–5R)

201, 202, 203 General Physics (4,4,4) Introductory series. 201: mechanics and fluids. 202: thermodynamics, waves, optics. 203: electricity, magnetism, modern physics. Prereq for 201: MATH 112; prereq for 202, 203: PHYS 201.

204, 205, 206 Introductory Physics Laboratory (2,2,2) Practical exploration of the principles studied in general-physics lecture. Measurement and analysis methods applied to experiments in mechanics, waves, sound, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics. Pre- or coreq: PHYS 201, 202, 203.

251, 252, 253 Foundations of Physics I (4,4,4) Sequence. 251: Newtonian mechanics; units and vectors; one-dimensional motion; Newton’s laws; work and energy; momentum and collisions. Prereq: MATH 112 or equivalent; coreq: MATH 251 or equivalent. 252: vibrations and waves; oscillations; wave mechanics; dispersion; modes; introductory optics. Coreq: MATH 253 or equivalent.  253: electricity and magnetism; charge and electric field; electric potential; circuits; magnetic field; inductance. Coreq: MATH 252 or equivalent.

290 Foundations of Physics Laboratory (1R) Introduction to laboratory measurements, reports, instrumentation, and experimental techniques. Coreq: PHYS 251, 252, 253. R twice for maximum of 3 credits.

301 Physicists’ View of Nature (4) Illustrates physics concepts through the work of prominent physicists. The classical view—mechanics, electrical science, thermal physics. Junior standing required.

351, 352, 353 Foundations of Physics II (4,4,4) Sequence. 351: introduction to relativity and quantum physics with applications to atomic, solid-state, nuclear, and astro-particle systems. 352: thermodynamic systems; first and second laws; kinetic theory of gases; entropy. 353: thermal radiation; Maxell-Boltzmann statistics; Fermi and Bose gases; phase transitions. Prereq: MATH 253, PHYS 253; coreq: MATH 256 or 281. 

354 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (4) Introductory treatment of quantum mechanics with an applied focus. Topics include square well potential, Bragg reflection, and de Broglie waves. Prereq: PHYS 352.

361 Modern Science and Culture (4) Examination of 19th century and early 20th century science in a cultural context.

362 Biological Physics (4) Physical principles governing biological systems. Topics include molecular machines, DNA and other macromolecules, signaling and information transfer, entropic forces, and physical mechanisms of self-organization. Prereq: PHYS 353.

391 Physics Experimentation Data Analysis Laboratory (4) Practical aspects of physics experimentation, including data acquisition, statistical analysis, and introduction to scientific programming, and use of Fourier methods for data analysis. Prereq: PHYS 253 or equivalent. 

399 Special Studies: [Topic] (1–5R)

401 Research: [Topic] (1–16R)

403 Thesis (1–12R)

405 Reading and Conference: [Topic] (1–16R)

406 Field Studies: [Topic] (1–21R)

407/507 Seminar: [Topic] (1–4R)

408/508 Workshop: [Topic] (1–21R)

409 Supervised Tutoring (1–3R)

410/510 Experimental Course: [Topic] (1–4R)

411, 412, 413 Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (4,4,4) Fundamental principles of Newtonian mechanics, conservation laws, small oscillations, planetary motion, systems of particles. Electromagnetic phenomena. Series. Prereq: MATH 282. Only nonmajors may earn graduate credit.

414, 415/515 Quantum Physics (4,4) Planck’s and de Broglie’s postulates, the uncertainty principle, Bohr’s model of the atom, the Schroedinger equation in one dimension, the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom, molecules and solids, nuclei and elementary particles. Pre- or coreq: PHYS 411, 412/512, 413/513. Only nonmajors may earn graduate credit.

417/517 Topics in Quantum Physics (4) Perturbation theory, variational principle, time-dependent perturbation theory, elementary scattering theory. Prereq: PHYS 415/515. Only nonmajors may earn graduate credit.

420 Physics Demonstrations (4) Focuses primarily on the resources, methods, and techniques for conveying an understanding of physics principles through physics demonstrations and laboratory experiments. Prereq: PHYS 253. Offered alternate years. 

422 Electromagnetism (4) Study of electromagnetic waves. Topics include Maxwell’s equations, wave equation, plane waves, guided waves, antennas, and other related phenomena. Prereq: PHYS 413/513.

424 Classical Optics (4) Geometrical optics, polarization, interference, Frauenhofer and Fresnel diffraction. Prereq: PHYS 413/513.

425 Modern Optics (4) Special topics in modern applied optics such as Fourier optics, coherence theory, resonators and lasers, holography, and image processing. Prereq: PHYS 424/524 or equivalent.

426/526 Modern Optics Laboratory (4) A series of experiments with a variety of lasers and modern electro-optical instrumentation. Prereq: PHYS 425/525.

431 Analog Electronics (4) Passive and active discrete components and circuits. General circuit concepts and theorems. Equivalent circuits and black box models. Integrated circuit operational amplifiers. Prereq: PHYS 203 or equivalent; knowledge of complex numbers; MATH 256.

432 Digital Electronics (4) Digital electronics including digital logic, measurement, signal processing and control. Introduction to computer interfacing. Prereq: PHYS 203 or equivalent; MATH 253.

481/581 Design of Experiments (4) Applies statistics to practical data analysis, data-based decision making, model building, and the design of experiments. Emphasizes factorial designs.

491, 492, 493 Research Project I,II,III (2–4,2–4,2–4) For physics and other science majors. Entails construction and use of apparatus, interfaces, and computers to perform technically sophisticated experiments, analyze, and communicate results. Prereq: PHYS 391 or 399. 

503 Thesis (1–16R)

601 Research: [Topic] (1–16R)

603 Dissertation (1–16R)

604 Internship: [Topic] (1–16R) Coreq: good standing in applied physics master’s degree program.

605 Reading and Conference: [Topic] (1–16R)

606 Field Studies: [Topic] (1–16R)

607 Seminar: [Topic] (1–4R) Recent topics include Astrophysics and Gravitation, Biophysics, Condensed Matter, High Energy Physics, Physics Colloquium, Theoretical Physics.

608 Workshop: [Topic] (1–16R)

609 Supervised Tutoring (1–3R)

610 Experimental Course: [Topic] (1–4R)

611, 612 Theoretical Mechanics (4,2) Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, small oscillations, rigid bodies.

613, 614 Statistical Physics (2,4) Thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, application to gases, liquids, solids, atoms, molecules, and the structure of matter.

619 Advanced Digital Electronics (4) Topics include sequential logic, amplifier noise, data conversions, computer interfacing.

622, 623 Electromagnetic Theory (4,4) Microscopic form of Maxwell’s equations, derivation and solution of the wave equation, Lorentz covariant formulation, motion of charges in given fields, propagation and diffraction, radiation by given sources, coupled motion of sources and fields, the electromagnetic field in dense media.

631, 632, 633 Quantum Mechanics (4,4,4) 631: review of fundamentals, central force problems, matrix mechanics. 632: approximation methods, scattering. 633: rotation symmetry, spin, identical particles. Sequence.

634 Advanced Quantum Mechanics (4) Time-dependent formulation of scattering, relativistic equations and solutions, hole theory, symmetry properties, second quantization, Fock space.

661, 662 Elementary Particle Phenomenology (4,4) Classification and quantum numbers of elementary particles; elements of group theory, Lorentz group and spin; discrete and continuous symmetries; phenomenology of weak, electromagnetic, and strong interactions; quark model of hadron structure. Prereq: PHYS 633.

665, 666 Quantum Field Theory (4,4) Canonical quantization, path integral formulation of quantum field theory, Feynman rules for perturbation theory, quantum electrodynamics, renormalization, gauge theory of the strong and electroweak interactions. Prereq: PHYS 634.

671 Solid State Physics (4) Crystallography; thermal, electrical, optical, and magnetic properties of solids; band theory; metals, semiconductors, and insulators; defects in solids. Prereq: PHYS 633.

674, 675 Theory of Condensed Matter (4,4) Advanced topics include quantum and statistical description of many-particle systems, electronic structure, elementary excitations in solids and fluids, critical phenomena, statics and dynamics of soft condensed matter. Topics and emphasis vary.

684, 685 Quantum Optics and Laser Physics (4,4) Nonlinear optical processes and quantum statistical properties of light produced by such processes, laser theory, wave mixing processes, optical Bloch equations, field quantization, photon statistics, cooperative emissions. Prereq for 684: undergraduate quantum mechanics; coreq for 685: PHYS 631, 632.

Astronomy Courses (ASTR)

121 The Solar System (4) Naked-eye astronomy, development of astronomical concepts, and the solar system.

122 Birth and Death of Stars (4) The structure and evolution of stars.

123 Galaxies and the Expanding Universe (4) Galaxies and the universe.

321 Topics in Astrophysics (4) Problem solving of the orbits, kinematics, and dynamics of astronomical systems, structure and evolution of stars and galaxies. Instructor’s consent is required for nonscience majors. Pre- or coreq: MATH 251, 252; PHYS 251, 252 or equivalents.