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Physics and Astronomy Information | Physics and Astronomy Programs | Physics and Astronomy Courses

Degree Programs

Each bachelor's degree offered by the Department is based on a strong, basic program. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is designed for students interested in immediate employment in industry as well as those who wish to continue onto a Master's or Ph.D. degree in physics or a related field. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is appropriate for those preparing for teaching careers in the physical sciences at the secondary level as well as those whose goal is a liberal education with an emphasis on physics. The curriculum for these baccalaureate degrees provides a broadly-based exposure to theoretical and experimental physics. It also permits students to discuss fundamental concepts and their applications to grasp the discoveries at science's expanding frontiers, and to develop an appreciation for the amazing beauty of the physical universe.

The Department also offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science (M.S.) degree. The M.S. degree is available in both a general option and an option in applied physics. A student may choose the general option either with a thesis (Plan I) or, if the department graduate committee gives permission, with a comprehensive examination (Plan II); the option in applied physics requires a thesis. Active areas of research are: materials sciences, condensed matter physics (superconductivity, magnetism, polymer physics), computational physics, quantum few-body scattering theory, theory of low-energy atomic collisions, field theory, gauge/gravitational interactions, phenomenology of elementary particles, biophysics, and applied optics. A limited number of teaching associateships and graduate assistantships are available to students working on the master's degree. Work as a teaching associate (TA) is a valuable part of any degree program. Application should be made to the graduate advisor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Concurrent and/or Summer Enrollment at Another College

Students who wish to take course work at a community college or another college or university to meet curricular requirements while enrolled as undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics must petition the appropriate Department for prior approval to earn credit for specific courses. This policy applies to concurrent enrollment or summer enrollment. Please see “Concurrent Enrollment” and “Transfer of Undergraduate Credit” in this Catalog. Courses not receiving prior approval will not be accepted for credit by the Department.

Facilitated Enrollment into Classes

All entering students who declare a major in a degree program offered by this Department should participate in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ Science Safari to Success (for first-time freshmen) or EONS (Enrollment and Orientation in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics for transfer students) Program. These programs are held in June-July for those starting in the Fall Semester and in January for those starting in the Spring Semester. Department advisors will be available to provide an overview of the students’ chosen baccalaureate degree program, to assist with academic advisement, to provide information on the many career opportunities available, and to aid students in enrolling in classes. Contact the Jensen Student Access to Sciences and Mathematics Center (FO5-109) or Department Office for additional information.

UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

Bachelor of Science in Physics (code PHYSBS01) (120 units)

Requirements

Lower Division: PHYS 151, 152, 254, 255; MATH 122,123, 224; CHEM 111A,B; BIOL 200 or 211A.

Upper Division: ENGL 317; MATH 370A or 364A, MATH 370B or 461; 33 units of upper division physics including PHYS 310, 320, 340A, 340B, 350, 360, 380, 450, and one laboratory course chosen from PHYS 330, 403, 445, 476 and 480. The remaining (6 to 8) units are to be chosen from any upper division physics courses.

Grade Requirements

Physics majors must have a “C” average in the major. Physics students must achieve a grade of “C” or better in each required course in the major. The following schedule is typical for an upper division major who is a full-time student.

Junior Year:
Fall: PHYS 310, 320, 360; MATH 370A or 364A (or MATH 370B or 461; it is recommended that MATH 370A or 364A be taken before PHYS 310, if possible).
Spring: PHYS 340A, 350, 380; MATH 370B or 461 (if not taken previously).
Senior Year:
Fall: PHYS 340B, 450.
Spring: Three upper division physics electives.

Bachelor of Arts in Physics (code PHYSBA01) (120 units)

This degree is designed for the student who expects to teach at the secondary level, or who seeks a high quality liberal education focusing on science. A minimum of 120 units is required for this degree.

Requirements

Lower-Division: PHYS 151, 152, 254, 255; MATH 122, 123, 224; CHEM 111A,B; BIOL 200 or 211A.

Upper-Division: minimum of 24 units selected in consultation with Physics Department Undergraduate Advisor, at least 18 units of which must be in physics; ENGL 317 or other suitable upper-division writing course from Department of English, determined in consultation with Physics Department Undergraduate Advisor (may be waived for students who achieved a standard score of 24 on the ACT English sub-test or who received an “A” or “B” grade in ENGL 100).

Teaching Credential

Requirements Related to a Teaching Credential with a Physics Concentration

The Physics Concentration meets the subject matter competence requirement for the Single Subject Preliminary Credential in Physics (code 183). Prospective students should consult the Single Subject Science Education Advisor in the Department of Science Education early to plan their program.

In addition to meeting the subject matter competence requirement for the Preliminary Credential, prospective Physics teachers are also required to complete 44 units of professional preparation in the Single Subject Credential Program, including student teaching. Students may begin the professional preparation courses as early as the junior year. With careful planning, it is possible to complete many of the credential program courses, except for student teaching, as an undergraduate. Courses may also be started as post-baccalaureate student. Refer to the Single Subject Teacher Education section of this Catalog or the Single Subject Credential Program website (www.ced.csulb.edu/single-subject) for a description of the professional preparation requirements, courses, and application procedures.

The Physics Subject Matter Program is being revised to meet new state standards. When the revised program has been approved by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the new course requirements will be in effect and supersede current requirements.

Requirements

Lower-Division: PHYS 151, 152, 254, 255; MATH 122, 123, 224; ASTR 100; BIOL 211A,B; CHEM 111A,B; GEOL 102, 104, 160.

Upper-Division: MATH 364A or 370A; PHYS 310, 340A, either 320 or 422, either 330 or both 475 and 476, either 380 or 3 units of 496; SCED 403, 404; EDSS 300C, 450C; EDSE 435, 436, 457.

Minor in Physics (code PHYSUM01)

Requirements

The Minor in Physics is available to any non-Physics major. A minimum of 20 units which must include the following.

Lower Division: PHYS 151, 152, 254, 255.

Upper Division: A minimum of nine units in physics (PHYS 360 will not count toward these nine units).

GRADUATE PROGRAMS

Master of Science in Physics (code PHYSMS01)

Prerequisites

1. A bachelor’s degree with a major in physics; or
2. A bachelor’s degree with at least 24 units of upper division physics. (Students deficient in undergraduate preparation must take courses to remove these deficiencies without credit toward the degree at the discretion of the Department Graduate Advisor.)

Requirements

1. Advancement to Candidacy
A. Students must fulfill the University requirements for advancement to candidacy.
B. A student must have a "B" average or better in six units of physics applicable toward the master’s degree, of which at least three units are at the graduate level.
2. Recognizing that effective organization and verbal communication of physics are a necessary part of a successful graduate program, the Department of Physics and Astronomy normally requires that a graduate student serve at least one semester as a teaching associate or a graduate assistant as part of the M.S. program. Exceptions may be granted by the Graduate Advisor.

Additional Requirements

Plan I
1. A minimum of 30 units of upper division and graduate courses including PHYS 540A,B, 550A,B, 560A, and 695;
2. Completion of a written thesis, 6 units of PHYS 698, and an oral presentation of the thesis research. The members of the candidate’s thesis committee must approve the thesis before the student may schedule the oral presentation.

Note: Students must be advanced to candidacy before enrolling in PHYS 698. As early as possible, a graduate student should choose a thesis chair who will help in selecting the student’s thesis committee consisting of at least three members (including the thesis chair and at least one other member of the Department).

Plan II
1. Permission of the Department Graduate Committee;
2. A minimum of 30 units of upper division and graduate courses including PHYS 510, 540A,B, 550A,B, 560A, and 695;
3. Passing a comprehensive examination.

The remaining required units, not more than 6 of which may be in related fields, are to be from courses selected in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

Option in Applied Physics (code PHYSMS02)

The Option in Applied Physics provides a master’s degree program that emphasizes concepts and techniques particularly appropriate for applied physics. It is intended for students having a background in physics, engineering, or a related field.

Prerequisites

1. A bachelor’s degree with a major in physics, or
2. A bachelor’s degree with a major in engineering with upper division physics substantially equivalent to PHYS 310, 340A,B, and 450, as determined by the Department Graduate Advisor, or
3. A bachelor’s degree with upper division physics and mathematics courses essentially equivalent to PHYS 310, 340B, 450; and MATH 370A,B; as determined by the Department Graduate Advisor.

Students deficient in undergraduate preparation must take courses to remove these deficiencies as determined by the Department Graduate Advisor.

Requirements

1. Advancement to Candidacy
A. Students must fulfill the University requirements for advancement to candidacy.
B. A student must have a "B" average or better in six units of physics applicable toward the master’s degree, of which at least three units are at the graduate level.
2. Recognizing that effective organization and verbal communication of physics are a necessary part of a successful graduate program, the Department of Physics and Astronomy normally requires that a graduate student serve at least one semester as a teaching associate or a graduate assistant as part of the M.S. program. Exceptions may be granted by the Graduate Advisor.

Additional Requirements

Thirty units of upper division and graduate courses as described below.

1. PHYS 540A, 550A, 560A, 569, and 695.
2. Two of the following courses or combinations of courses: PHYS 502/503, 545, 575/576, and 580.
3. Completion of a written thesis, 6 units of PHYS 698, and an oral presentation of the thesis research. The members of the candidate’s thesis committee must approve the thesis before the student may schedule the oral presentation.

Note: Students must be advanced to candidacy before enrolling in PHYS 698. As early as possible, a graduate student should choose a thesis chair who will help in selecting the student’s thesis committee consisting of at least three members (including the thesis chair and at least one other member of the Department).

4. Courses selected in consultation with the Department Graduate Advisor and/or thesis chair to complete the remaining 2 to 3 units.