Physics

The Department of Physics offers an A.B. in Biological Physics, an A.B. in Physics, a B.S. in Biological Physics, and a B.S. in Physics, as well as a minor in Physics.

Major programs

The Physics Department offers two programs: our traditional one in Physics and a new option in Biological Physics. Each of these programs can lead to either an A.B. degree or a B.S. degree. The A.B. Physics and Biological Physics majors are designed for students planning graduate study or employment outside the sciences proper (in fields such as medicine, law, business, journalism, government service, or pre-college teaching). The B.S. in Physics major is designed for students planning further study or employment in physics or a related area of science or technology. The B.S. in Biological Physics major is designed to prepare students for careers in physical, biophysical, biomedical, and bioengineering research. All four options are built around a set of five core courses. The core courses and their recommended sequence, for students in any of the four majors, are as follows:

First Year
  • Mechanics (PHYS-151, Fall)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152, Spring)
Second Year
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153, Fall)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154, Spring)
  • Mathematical and Computational Methods (PHYS-155, Spring)

The A.B. Physics Major requires a minimum of five courses in addition to the core sequence, while the B.S. Physics Major requires a minimum of seven courses in addition to the core sequence. The A.B. Biological Physics Major requires a minimum of three Physics courses and four corollary science courses in addition to the core sequence, while the B.S. Biological Physics Major requires a minimum of five Physics courses and four corollary science courses in addition to the core sequence. Calculus at the level of MATH-035, 036, and 137 is essential for all four majors, and these courses should be taken before or concurrently with PHYS-151, 152, and 153, respectively. Any student contemplating a physics major is strongly urged to consult with Professor Edward Van Keuren as soon as possible.

REQUIREMEntS FOR THE A.B. IN Physics
  • Mechanics (PHYS-151)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152)
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154)
  • Mathematical and Computational Methods (PHYS-155)
  • At least one of the following courses:
    • Intermediate Mechanics (PHYS-251) or
    • Intermediate E&M (PHYS-252) or
    • Quantum Mechanics (PHYS-253) or
    • Statistical Physics (PHYS-254)
  • Physics elective: 220–299 or >= 400
  • Physics elective: >= 220
  • Any approved physics or math/science course
  • Any approved physics or math/science course

Corollary requirements

  • Calculus I, Calculus II, and Multivariable Calculus (MATH-035, 036, and 137)
REQUIREments FOR THE B.S. IN PHYSICS
  • Mechanics (PHYS-151)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152)
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154)
  • Mathematical and Computational Methods (PHYS-155)
  • Intermediate Mechanics (PHYS-251)
  • Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism (PHYS-252)
  • Quantum Mechanics (PHYS-253)
  • Statistical Physics (PHYS-254)
  • Independent Research (PHYS-300–309)
  • Physics elective: 220–299 or >= 400
  • Any approved physics or math/science course

Corollary requirements

  • Calculus I, Calculus II, and Multivariable Calculus (MATH-035, 036, and 137)
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE A.B. in biological physics
  • Mechanics (PHYS-151)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152)
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154)
  • Mathematical and Computational Methods (PHYS-155)
  • Biological Physics I (PHYS-235)
  • Statistical Physics (PHYS-254)
  • Biological Physics II (PHYS-436) or approved elective

Corollary Course Requirements

  • Foundations in Biology I and II (BIOL-103/113 and BIOL-104/114) 
  • General Chemistry I and II (CHEM-001/002 or 055/056)
  • Calculus I, Calculus II, and Multivariable Calculus (MATH-035, 036, and 137)
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE B.S. IN BIOLOGICAL PHYSICS 
  • Mechanics (PHYS-151)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152)
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154)
  • Mathematical and Computational Methods (PHYS-155)
  • Biological Physics I (PHYS-235)
  • At least one of the following courses:
    • Intermediate Mechanics (PHYS-251) or
    • Intermediate E&M (PHYS-252) or
    • Quantum Mechanics (PHYS-253)
  • Statistical Physics (PHYS-254)
  • Biological Physics II (PHYS-436) or approved elective
  • Independent Research in Biological Physics (PHYS-311)

Corollary Course Requirements

  • Foundations in Biology I and II (BIOL-103/113 and 104/114)
  • General Chemistry I and II (CHEM-001/009 and 002/010 or 055-058)
  • Calculus I, Calculus II, and Multivariable Calculus (MATH-035, 036, and 137)

Integrated writing strategy

By the time they graduate, Physics majors should have achieved proficiency in creating various types of good scientific writing, including short answer explanations, formal lab reports, research theses and journal articles. This writing will have one or more of the following qualities: clear overview and explanation of necessary background, description of methods, presentation of results, graphical representations of data, clear discussion of the results and implications, and proper citation of scholarly sources. Students will achieve this proficiency in courses including the first four required courses for the major (PHYS-151 to 154) and in one or more of the Independent Research courses (PHYS-301 to 304 or PHYS-311 to 314).

Departmental Honors

The faculty may award Honors in Physics to majors who have performed exceptionally well both in coursework and in independent research. Students who are awarded Honors in Physics typically have a GPA in physics lecture courses of 3.7 or better. Students must also have exhibited excellence in independent research (including at least six credits of research coursework) and must have presented their work in written and oral forms to the faculty. To be eligible for consideration, a physics major must have completed at least 4 upper-level physics lecture courses (PHYS-220-299 or >= 400), including at least two courses from PHYS-251, 252, 253, and 254. Both Physics and Biological Physics majors are eligible for Honors in Physics.

Physics Minor

A minor in physics consists of the first four courses of the core sequence plus one additional physics course, as follows:

  • Mechanics (PHYS-151)
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS-152)
  • Relativity and Quantum Physics (PHYS-153)
  • Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods (PHYS-154)
  • One additional physics course

PHYS-101 may substitute for PHYS-151, and PHYS-102 for PHYS-152.

(For course listings for Physics see http://courses.georgetown.edu)