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Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees with a major in physics.

Description of Program

The basic physics major is designed for students who are interested in a career in industry, government laboratories and applied science or in further study toward a graduate degree.

For students planning to teach middle school or high school physics, a cooperative program with the School of Education leads to Iowa secondary certification. Students complete a program of physics and education courses and a professional semester, which includes student teaching experience.

Students planning to enter medical or dental school may complete their undergraduate major in physics. This program includes the appropriate courses in biology and chemistry needed to satisfy medical or dental school entrance requirements.

For students who have an interest outside the present fields of concentration but whose educational goals can be realized through a combination of existing courses, an individualized major may be developed. Faculty members counsel students whose interests lie in this direction. Such individualized majors could include computational physics, geophysics, environmental physics, biophysics, chemical physics or astrophysics.

Additional courses are offered in physics and physical science to familiarize the general student with the current scientific interpretations of the fundamental physical laws that govern the universe.

Requirements for Major

The BA degree requires a minimum of 42 credit hours in physics, and the BS degree requires a minimum of 50 credit hours in physics in a program to be developed by the student and the adviser and approved by the department.

Both programs include a common core of 7 physics courses in the first 2 years:

First year

  • Physics 1 (Introductory Physics I)
  • Physics 5 (Topics in Physics)

Sophomore year

  • Physics 2 (Introductory Physics II)
  • Physics 50 (Modern Physics)
  • Physics 59 (Advanced Laboratory I)
  • Physics 61 (Error Theory)
  • Physics 191 (Physics Seminar I)

Minimum degree requirements for the BA and BS degrees also include:

  • Physics 121 (Theoretical Mechanics)
  • Physics 122 (Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory)
  • Physics 133 (Electronics)
  • Physics 182 (Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics)
  • Physics 192, 193 (Physics Seminar II, III)

Requirements for the BA include one of the following:

  • Physics 149 or 159 (Advanced Laboratory II or III)
  • Physics 197 or 198 (Research Participation)

In addition, the BS degree requires:

  • Physics 149 or 159 (Advanced Laboratory II or III)
  • Physics 181 (Quantum Theory)
  • Physics 188 (Advanced Classical Physics, and)
  • one course from the following:
    Physics 180, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 189, 190, 195, 197, 198

A Senior Capstone experience is required, which may be either an NSF-sponsored REU experience between the junior and senior years, or one of the courses Physics 197 or 198 — Research Participation taken during the senior year.

Requirements for all programs also include general chemistry I, with laboratory and related courses in mathematics and computer science appropriate to the options chosen by the student.

Depending on the student’s career goals, the academic adviser may recommend additional courses chosen from electives.

Requirements for Minor

Minimum of 24 credit hours of physics courses.

Physics 1, 2 and 5 and Physics 50, 59, 61, 191 and either 133 or 182 are required. All students planning to take a minor in physics must have a minor adviser in the department of physics. Students should consult their advisers regarding the mathematics prerequisites for these courses.

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