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Curriculum for Physics Majors

Degree requirements and sample programs

Curriculum for Physics Majors

Degree requirements and sample programs

University requirements are summarized in the Academic Catalog. You should check in particular the grade point averages required to remain in good standing and to graduate. Courses required for the physics major may not be taken under S-U grading. Grades of C– or better must be attained in all courses required for the Physics major. Courses in which a lower grade is received must be repeated until a satisfactory grade is received.

You must satisfy the OSU requirements of the Baccalaureate Core. Note that the physical science requirement can be satisfied by either your introductory physics course (PH 211, 212, 213) or chemistry course (CH 221, 222, 223). It is not necessary to complete another physical science course for the Baccalaureate Core. You must, however, complete at least one term of biological science as required for the Baccalaureate Core.

In order to satisfy the Writing Intensive Course (WIC) requirement of the OSU Baccalaureate Core, Physics majors are required to write a senior thesis on a research project. Students must enroll in PH 403 (Thesis) for one credit in each of the three terms of the senior year (or the year of graduation, for those in a five-year program). This course meets weekly and the three total credits satisfy the OSU WIC requirement. For more information, please visit the WIC Thesis Information page.

Courses

Corvallis Campus

Ecampus

Basic degree program requirements

Introductory physics

PH 211, 212, 213, 221, 222, 223

Computational physics

PH 365, 366, 367

Intermediate physics

PH 315, 335

Paradigms

PH 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427

Capstones

PH 431, 441, 451, 481

Electronics labs

PH 411, 415 or 464

Electives

Choose two from these or consult the advisor for other possibilities

PH 415, 455, 464, 482, 483, 495, 562, 575, 585, 591

Research & Thesis (WIC)

PH 401, 403

Some of these courses are replaced under the various degree options. Other requirements are:

Chemistry

CH 231, 232, 233, 261, 262, 263

Mathematics

MTH 251, 252, 253 or 264/265, 254, 255, 256, 341

Transfer student requirements

Students who intend to transfer to OSU from another institution should arrange to speak with the Head Advisor at the earliest possible time. Community college transfers should speak with the advisor before planning the community college curriculum, if possible.

Students who plan to enter OSU after two years of previous work and to graduate in two additional years should complete courses equivalent to PH 211, 212, 213; MTH 251-256; and CH 231, 232, 233, 261, 262, 263. Failure to complete these courses, especially the physics and math courses, will almost certainly add a full year to your studies at OSU.

Sample curricula for physics majors

Your particular set of courses and the sequence in which you take them may differ from these samples.

Physics major curriculum

A typical program for the B.S., no option

View as a table in google sheets

Fall

  • MTH 251 (4)
  • CH 231 (4)
  • CH 261 (1)

Winter

  • MTH 252 (4)
  • CH 232 (4)
  • CH 262 (1)
  • PH 198 First-year Seminar (1)

Spring

  • MTH 254 (4)
  • CH 233 (4)
  • CH 263 (1)
  • PH 211 (4)
  • PH 221 (1)

Fall

  • MTH 255 (4)
  • PH 212 (4)
  • PH 222 (1)

Winter

  • MTH 256 (4)
  • PH 213 (4)
  • PH 223 (1)

Spring

  • MTH 253 (4) OR MTH 264/265 *** (4)
  • MTH 341 (3)
  • PH 315 Contemporary Challenges (3)

(***) Students interested in a MTH minor or double major should take MTH 253. Other students should take MTH 264/265.

Fall

  • PH 335 Mechanics (3)
  • PH 411 Electronics (3)
  • PH 365 Computational Lab (1)

Winter

  • PH 422 Static Fields (3)
  • PH 425 Quantum Fundamentals (3)
  • PH 366 Computational Lab (1)
  • PH 415* Computer Interfacing (3)
  • PH 401** Research (1)

Spring

  • PH 424 Oscillations & Waves (3)
  • PH 426 Central Forces (3)
  • PH 367 Computational Lab (1)
  • PH 401** Research (1)

(*) Students chose either PH 415 or PH 464.

(**) Three credits of PH 401 Research are required for students using PH 403 Thesis for the WIC requirement. Although they can be taken in terms other than shown here, it is strongly recommended to start research by the winter term of the junior year. Students doing external internships as a basis for their research should discuss this with the head advisor. Student using PH 317 Experimental Physics for the WIC requirement must substitute an additional PH elective course in place of PH 401.

Fall

  • PH 403 Thesis (1)
  • PH 401** Research (1)
  • PH 423 Energy & Entropy (3)
  • PH 427 Periodic Systems (3)
  • PH 431 Electromagnetism (3)
  • PH 464* Scientific Computing II (3)
  • PH elective (3)

Winter

  • PH 403 Thesis (1)
  • PH 451 Quantum Mechanics (3)
  • PH 481 Optics (4)

Spring

  • PH 403 Thesis (1)
  • PH 441 Statistical Mechanics (3)
  • PH elective (3)

(*) Students chose either PH 415 or PH 464.

(**) Three credits of PH 401 Research are required for students using PH 403 Thesis for the WIC requirement. Although they can be taken in terms other than shown here, it is strongly recommended to start research by the winter term of the junior year. Students doing external internships as a basis for their research should discuss this with the head advisor. Student using PH 317 Experimental Physics for the WIC requirement must substitute an additional PH elective course in place of PH 401.

Term name is typical term offered

Fall

  • PH 562: Mathematical Physics
  • PH 591: Biological Physics

Winter

  • PH 455: Astrophysics
  • PH 482: Optical Electronic Systems

Spring

  • PH 483: Guided Wave Optics
  • PH 495: Introduction to Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • PH 575: Introduction to Solid State Physics
  • PH 585: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

Total Credits: 180, Physics: 74. PH Elective must be 400 level course (not 40x) or 500 level.

Not shown are the Baccalaureate Core courses required by the university: Skills (Fitness, Speech, WR I, WR II), Perspectives (Cultural Diversity, Literature & the Arts, Social Processes & Institutions, Western Culture, and Difference, Power, & Discrimination), Synthesis (Contemporary Global Issues and Science, Technology, & Society).

Physics curriculum for options

A typical program for the B.S., with an option.

View as a table in google sheets

Fall

  • MTH 251 (4)
  • CH 231 (4)
  • CH 261 (1)
  • PH 198 (1)

Winter

  • MTH 252 (4)
  • CH 232 (4)
  • CH 262 (1)

Spring

  • MTH 254 (4)
  • CH 233 (4)
  • CH 263 (1)
  • PH 211 (4)
  • PH 221 (1)

Fall

  • MTH 255 (4)
  • PH 212 (4)
  • PH 222 (1)

Winter

  • MTH 256 (4)
  • PH 213 (4)
  • PH 223 (1)

Spring

  • MTH 253 (4) or MTH 264/265 *** (4)
  • MTH 341 (3)
  • PH 315 (3)

(***) Students interested in a MTH minor or double major should take MTH 253. Other students should take MTH 264/265.

Fall

  • PH 335 (3)
  • PH 411 (3)
  • PH 365 (1)

Winter

  • PH 422 (3)
  • PH 425 (3)
  • PH 366 (1)
  • PH 401** (1)
  • Option (3)

Spring

  • PH 424 (3)
  • PH 426 (3)
  • PH 367 (1)
  • PH 401** (1)

(**) Three credits of PH 401 Research are required for students using PH 403 Thesis for the WIC requirement. Although they can be taken in terms other than shown here, it is strongly recommended to start research by the winter term of the junior year. Students doing external internships as a basis for their research should discuss this with the head advisor. Student using PH 317 Experimental Physics for the WIC requirement must substitute an additional PH elective course in place of PH 401.

Fall

  • PH 403 (1)
  • PH 401** (1)
  • PH 423 (3)
  • PH 427 (3)
  • PH 431* (3)
  • Option (3)

Winter

  • PH 403 (1)
  • PH 451* (3)
  • Option (3)
  • Option (3)

Spring

  • PH 403 (1)
  • PH 441* (3)
  • Option (3)

(*) Students choose two of PH 431, PH 441, PH 451.

(**) Three credits of PH 401 Research are required for students using PH 403 Thesis for the WIC requirement. Although they can be taken in terms other than shown here, it is strongly recommended to start research by the winter term of the junior year. Students doing external internships as a basis for their research should discuss this with the head advisor. Student using PH 317 Experimental Physics for the WIC requirement must substitute an additional PH elective course in place of PH 401.

Total credits: 180, Physics: 74. PH Elective must be 400 level course (not 40x).

Not shown are the Baccalaureate Core courses required by the university: Skills (Fitness, Speech, WR I, WR II), Perspectives (Cultural Diversity, Literature & the Arts, Social Processes & Institutions, Western Culture, and Difference, Power, & Discrimination), Synthesis (Contemporary Global Issues and Science, Technology, & Society).