Major and Minor in Physics

The Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences offers a major (BS) and a minor in Physics. Any student, regardless of major program of study, may obtain a minor by successfully completing a minimum of 20 hours of selected courses at the 3000 or 4000 level in physics. If you major or minor in physics you can become involved in research projects carried out by VSU faculty members or off-campus student research programs.

CHECKLIST for Physics MAJOR



What can I do with a degree in Physics?

Many of our graduates in Physics go on to graduate school for MS and/or PhD degrees in Physics, Medical Physics, Nuclear Engineering, and Meteorology. Other types of employment with a BS in physics include:

    • aerospace engineering
    • electrical engineering
    • laboratory technician
    • software administrator/engineer
    • high school or middle-school teaching
    • atmospheric scientist



Courses for the Physics Major or Minor:

Majors and Minors in Physics start with the introductory calculus-based series: "Principles of Physics" (PHYS 2211 and 2212) and three semesters of calculus (MATH 2261, 2262, 2263).  Majors go on to take two semesters each of analytic mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity & magnetism, and the one-semester courses thermodynamics, computational physics, electronics, optics, and experimental physics.  Students may choose three electives from astronomy, engineering, physics, or mathematics.  Students minoring in Physics choose among various electives (see catalog for specific requirements):

PHYS 2211K and 2212K "Principles of Physics I & II" are laboratory courses and introduce mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, electromagnetism and optics using differential and integral calculus.  

PHYS 3040 "Electronics" is a combination lecture-laboratory course in basic electrical circuits and techniques, including extensive use of the oscilloscope. Both continuous wave and pulse phenomena are treated.

PHYS 3100 "Optics" emphasizes physical optics. Topics include interference, polarizations, dispersion, absorption, resonance, and quantum effects. The nature of light is explored.

PHYS 2700 "Modern Physics" is designed to introduce the incoming physics or astronomy major to the ideas of modern physics. The course includes overviews of special relativity, quantum mechanics, and solid state physics.

PHYS 3810 "Mathematical Methods in Physics" emphasizes special topics in mathematics related to advanced physics. Topics include vector and tensor calculus, differential equations, orthogonal functions, eigenvalue problems, matrix methods, transform, and complex variables.

PHYS 3820 "Computational Physics" introduces the use of the computer to solve otherwise intractable problems. This includes: programming in C++, simulations of physics systems, acquisition and analysis of data, and graphical display of data.

PHYS 3821 "Computational Physics II" ELECTIVE Applies advanced numerical and computational techniques to real world problems and utilizes multiple computer languages to solve them. Topics include matrix algebra, boundary value problems, nonlinear systems, and partial differential equations.

PHYS 4040 "Experimental Physics" is a lecture-laboratory course devoted to techniques of research in experimental physics. Topics include treatment of data, vacuum techniques, magnetic devices, preparation and manipulation of beams of particles and radioactivity. A number of modern physics experiments are studied and performed.

PHYS 4211 and PHYS 4212 "Electromagnetism" are two semesters of electrostatics, magnetostatics, electrodynamics, and Maxwell's equations.

PHYS 4300 "Plasma Physics" ELECTIVE serves as an introduction to the physics of ionized gases. Topics include orbit theory, kinetic theory, guiding center motion, ionization balance description of plasmas by fluid variables and distribution functions, linearized wave motions, instabilities, and magnetohydrodynamics.

PHYS 4310 "Thermodynamics" is a study of classical thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical mechanics.

PHYS 4111 and 4112 "Analytic Mechanics" are two semesters worth of Newtonian mechanics, including conservation's laws, Lagrange's equations, Euler's equations and Hamiltonian physics. 

PHYS 4411 and 4412 "Quantum Mechanics " are two semesters of quantum physics and its application to atomic and nuclear structure. wave and matrix formalism is used, including Dirac notation.

MATH 3340 (differential equations); MATH 2150 (linear algebra) are required for the major.

Three ELECTIVES taken from any upper-level (3000 or higher) course in ASTR, PHYS, MATH