Students in the physics concentration receive training in most basic areas of physics and mathematics. The concentration provides a firm foundation in the principles of physics of contemporary interest. A student with such training is prepared to go on to graduate school for additional specialization in physics, engineering or other applied science fields or professions. The undergraduate degree in physics provides an adequate basis for teaching physics in high schools and research and development work in industry.
Although it is preferable for the potential physics major to start physics courses as a freshman, the structure of the physics curriculum is such that the Harpur College student is able to satisfy the requirements for the BA degree in physics in two years of study following the completion of general physics and a year of calculus. If the student wishes to complete the requirements for the BS degree, an earlier start than the sophomore year is highly advisable.
No courses taken to satisfy the requirement for the major in physics may be taken with the P/F option when letter grades are available for the courses. Credit by examination is not granted for courses taught by this department apart from the Advanced Placement procedure.
Physics majors will be expected to develop computer skills and apply such skills to the solving of problems encountered within the framework of courses required for the degree. If the student does not possess knowledge of a computer programming language, a course or half-course in computer programming should be taken during his or her first two years. The Watson School has several offerings that would generate the appropriate level of knowledge required to complete the projects assigned in upper-level physics courses.
For more detailed information, consult the University Bulletin.
Students planning to major in physics with a BA degree should take PHYS 121 and 122 (or 131 and 132) and should complete MATH 221, 222 and 323 as quickly as possible. Mathematics should be continued at least through Mathematical Methods in Science I and II (MATH 371-471). In addition, a major in physics normally requires PHYS 227, 323, 327, 331, 332, 341 and 421 (a total of nine full courses in physics). If the student does not possess knowledge of a computer programming language, he or she should take a course or half course in computer programming during the first two years. The Watson School has several offerings that generate the appropriate level of knowledge required to complete the projects assigned in upper-level physics courses. Prospective physics majors should discuss their programs with a member of the department at their earliest convenience.
Four of the six required 300- and 400-level PHYS courses must be taken in residence at Binghamton University.
The department offers a bachelor of science degree in physics for students who want recognition of increased concentration in physics. The BS degree in physics requires PHYS 121 and 122 (or 131 and 132), 227, 323, 327, 331, 332, 341, 411, 421, 422, 427 and 428 or 429 (a total of 12 full courses in physics); MATH 221, 222, 323, 371 and 471; and CHEM 111 (or 107 and 108). If the student does not possess knowledge of a computer programming language, he or she should take a course or half-course in computer programming during the first two years. The Watson School has several offerings, such as WTSN 204, that generate the appropriate level of knowledge required to complete the projects assigned in upper-level physics courses.
A Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with the applied Physics emphasis is offered for those students planning a career in Applied Physics, Engineering Physics, Geophysics, Material Science or other areas of engineering. Appropriate choices from among the elective courses that may be used to complete this degree will provide preparation for students intending to pursue a career in one of these applied areas. For further details and advice, the student is urged to consult the departmental undergraduate director. The program of study for this degree represents a modification of the traditional BS in physics. The requirements to earn the BS-Applied Physics degree are the same as the BS-Physics degree plus an additional 12 credits taken from the following list of required elective courses: PHYS 463, PHYS472, PHYS?GEOL 450 PHYS?GEOL 451, GEOL 453, ME 311, ME 361, CHEM 444, CHEM 481.
Six and a half of the required ten and a half 300- and 400-level PHYS courses must be taken in residence at Binghamton University.
A bachelor of science degree in physics with mathematical physics option is available for those who wish to pursue graduate degrees and careers in mathematics, theoretical physics and similar theoretical fields of physical science. As outlined in the University Bulletin, this option requires 18 courses as follows: PHYS 131 and 132 (or 121 and 122), 323, 331, 332, 341, 411, 421 and 422; MATH 221, 222, 304, 323, 330, 371, 471 and 478; and one PHYS course at the 400- level. One of these courses may be substituted by a MATH course numbered 375 or above, with the approval of the Physics Department undergraduate adviser.
Students are encouraged to take laboratory courses in physics, as these courses may broaden their opportunities in graduate schools. Six of the nine 300- and 400-level PHYS courses required for the completion of the degree must be taken in residence at Binghamton University.
Prior to the junior year, the student must have taken PHYS 121 and 122 (or 131 and 132), MATH 323 and, if possible, MATH 371. Candidates for the BS degree should have also completed CHEM 111 (or CHEM 107 and 108).
The programs for the junior and senior years are identical to those prescribed in the next section for transfer students from two-year colleges.
The Department has secured its curriculum so that the graduate of a two-year college may complete a BA or BS degree program in two additional years. It is assumed that such students have completed the equivalent of two semesters of general physics and three semesters of calculus by the time of enrollment. If they have not, an additional semester or two may be necessary. A general physics course with a weekly three-hour laboratory normally satisfies the equivalent of PHYS 121, PHYS 122 and PHYS 227; although the student must still complete the total required number of physics courses for the degree. If the student is working for the BS degree, it is also important that as many general education requirements as possible be fulfilled at the two-year school.
Requirements for the minor in physics are as follows: (1) PHYS 131 and 132 or (PHYS 121 and 122) and PHYS 323. (2) Any other three 300- or 400-level courses that must be taken for a letter grade. PHYS 227 may be substituted for one of these courses. The 300- and 400-level courses must be taken in residence at Binghamton University.
An upper-class student who has demonstrated superior academic ability may seek honors in physics. Honors in physics may be achieved either through research work or coursework.
Research work: The student enrolls in PHYS 498, Physics Honors, for a full- or half-course load. With departmental approval, the student then works closely with a faculty member on a research project suggested by the faculty member, for a total of at least four credit hours. The results of this project are presented in a senior thesis defended by the student at a departmental seminar. A successful defense demonstrating a superior research competence and mastery of the subject earns the recognition of distinguished independent work in physics. Further details are available from the department.
Coursework: The student successfully completes two graduate courses: PHYS 521, Analytical Dynamics, and PHYS 522, Electrodynamics I, both with a grade of B or better. In addition, the student completes either PHYS 524, Quantum Mechanics I, with a grade of B or better, or successfully completes a “capstone” project based on a course already taken. The project is a 15- to 20-page paper prepared under a faculty member’s supervision while registered for a one-credit independent study. Further details are available from the department.
A chapter of the national physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, exists in the department.
Last Updated: 10/24/12