2013-14 Catalogs

BA in Physics

Students that major in physics are usually interested in the fundamental laws that describe how nature works. These laws are inherently mathematical in nature, so physics majors are typically also interested in and skilled at mathematics. Studying physics at the University of Southern Maine will train you in the core areas of physics, from Newtonian Mechanics, to Electromagnetism, Optics, and Quantum Mechanics. In addition you will have advanced courses available from Optics, Electronics, Computational Physics, and Astrophysics. In their Junior year, all physics majors take Intermediate Physics laboratory, where you work together in groups to perform more advanced laboratory experiments, learn more serious data and error analysis techniques, learn how to present data in a 10 minute talk, and learn how to typeset your reports in a format suitable for professional journal publication. You'll graduate with a good skill set for further scientific research or graduate school. These days, with computers playing such a vital role as tools to gather and analyze data, and to perform simulations, we encourage students to take Physics 261 to satisfy their computing requirement.

All majors are strongly encouraged to get involved with research with one of our faculty members, as there is no better way to learn physics than being actively involved with research. Students that do well in their courses and are engaged in research within the department typically have a very good acceptance rate to graduate school Ph.D. Programs in physics. Past graduates have attended graduate programs at University of New York at Stony Brook, University of Rhode Island, Brandeis University, UCLA, Pennsylvania State University, all with full scholarships.

Our program is small, but has a dedicated faculty that teach all of the lectures and discussion sections, something you won't find at larger institutions.

The minimum number of credits in physics and related areas (exclusive of the University's Core curriculum) required for the physics major: 61. A student majoring in physics must take 37 credit hours of physics courses including some requirements and some electives as outlined below. In addition, the major requires 16 credits of mathematics courses, 8 credits of chemistry courses, and a demonstration of competency in computer programming.

1. Required courses
     PHY 114K, 116 Introductory Physics Laboratory I and II
     PHY 121K, 123 General Physics I and II (PHY 111K may replace PHY 121K with Departmental permission.)
     PHY 211, 213 Nonclassical Physics I and II
     PHY 221, 223, 225 Classical Physics I, II, and III
     PHY 240 Intermediate Laboratory I
     CHY 373 Physical Chemistry II

2. Electives. In addition to the required courses, the student must take a minimum of 6 credits of physics courses numbered 200 or higher: three credits from each of groups A and B below.

Group A
     PHY 251 Principles of Electronics
     PHY 261 Computational Physics
     PHY 281 Astrophysics
     PHY 375 Optics

Group B
     PHY 242 Intermediate Laboratory II
     PHY 311 Quantum Mechanics

The physics major must also complete the following courses:
     MAT 152 Calculus A
     MAT 153 Calculus B
     MAT 252 Calculus C
     MAT 350 Differential Equations
     CHY 113 and114K Principles of Chemistry I with Lab
     CHY 115 and 116 Principles of Chemistry II with Lab

Suggestions for demonstrating competency in computer programming include:
     COS 160 and 170 Structured Problem Solving: Java
     PHY 261 Computational Physics (recommended)

To graduate as a physics major, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all courses which satisfy the major requirement, and a minimum overall GPA of 2.0.