Physics

FACULTY Professors Early, Wang (chair); Associate Professors Kimberlin, Lozano; Temporary Assistant Professor Capozzi, Teske; Electronics Technician Kahila.

The Department of Physics has designed its programs and courses in physics and astronomy with two principal objectives in mind. First, for citizens to lead productive lives individuals need to be scientifically and technologically literate. Therefore, the department offers physics courses that are accessible to all of the university's students. Several of our courses have been especially tailored for the nonscientist. Second, a technological society has need for teachers, scientists, and engineers who have a broad and deep understanding of the basic physical laws. The department has programs and courses designed for students majoring in scientific and technical areas that will prepare them for professional careers or advanced study in these areas.

The Department of Physics offers introductory courses that cover the entire range of preparation in science and mathematics found at the university. Some require little or no science or mathematics preparation. Examples of such courses are PHY 100, PHY 123, and AST 300. Most of the other courses offered by the department require some prior exposure to science and mathematics. Therefore, students wishing to study physics will find entry-level courses appropriate to their abilities and preparation.

The Department of Physics offers two majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and one in the College of Engineering and Technology. The department also offers a minor. The specific program a student follows depends to a great extent on the particular interests of the student. Each student must work with a faculty advisor to plan an interesting course of study that satisfies the student's needs and all department, college, and university requirements.

Requirements for All Physics Majors

The physics major consists of at least 30 hours. All students majoring in the various programs in physics are required to complete the following courses in physics: PHY 110, 199, 201, 305, 306, 330, 350, 367, 399, 480. In addition to these courses, the student must complete either PHY 202 or 380 as well as certain physics electives at the 300 to 500 level. All physics majors are expected to present the results of their research experience while enrolled in PHY 399 at a departmental colloquium. Mathematics courses required by all physics majors are MTH 121, 122, 207, 223, 224, and 501 or an upper-division mathematics course approved by the Physics Department. A chemistry course, CHM 110, and its laboratory component, CHM 111, are also required.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Physics Major

The students who seek this major can generally be grouped into three categories:

  • Professional Physicists. These students intend to continue their formal education in physics by pursuing a graduate degree in physics.
  • Professional School Preparatory: these students are using the physics major as preparation for entering professional school programs such as medicine, engineering, or law.
  • Second Major: these students use the physics major to develop their problem-solving skills and for increasing their understanding of the physical universe while choosing their primary major in areas such as computer science, chemistry, or mathematics.

These students will complete the core courses as indicated above. In addition, all of these students must complete two additional courses in physics selected from the following: PHY 320, 345, 350, 361, 482, and 568. Students seeking to become professional physicists are strongly encouraged to complete all of these courses. In addition, CHM 112 and, in special cases, CHM 250 are recommended. Three additional mathematics courses chosen from MTH 307, 325, 326, 403, 420, 421, 502, 510, and 514 are strongly recommended.

Suggested Program for the LAS Physics Major

The schedule of courses shown below lists only the physics courses required by all LAS physics majors. Elective courses would then be chosen to fulfill the requirements for the particular variation chosen by the student. Some course requirements may be met through Advanced Placement tests, proficiency examinations, or transfer credit.

Freshman Year

First Semester

  • Core Curr. (GP) - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 199 Physics Seminar - 1 hr.
  • Core Curr. (NS) CHM 110 General Chemistry I - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (NS)CHM 111 General Chemistry I Laboratory - 1 hr.
  • Core Curr. (CM W1) ENG 101 Composition - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (QR) MTH 121 Calculus I - 4 hrs.

15 hours

Second Semester

  • Core Curr. (NS) PHY 110 University Physics I - 4 hrs.
  • Core Curr. FA  - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. Elective course from GP, HU, NS, QR, or SB - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (CM OC) COM 103 Oral Communication Process - 3 hrs.
  • MTH 122 Calculus II - 4 hrs.

17 hours

Sophomore Year

First Semester

  • Physics 201 University Physics II - 4 hrs.
  • Elective - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (SB)- 3 hrs.
  • MTH 223 Calculus III - 4 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (HU)- 3 hrs.

17 hours

Second Semester

  • PHY 202 Applied Quantum Physics or elective - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. Elective course from GP, HU, NS, QR, or SB - 3 hrs.
  • Elective - 3 hrs.
  • MTH 224 Elementary Differential Equations - 4 hrs.
  • MTH 207 Linear Algebra - 3 hrs.

16 hours

Junior Year

First Semester

  • MTH 501 or an approved math course - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 305 Electricity and Magnetism - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 330 Classical Mechanics - 3 hrs.
  • ENG 30X Junior Composition - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (MI) - 3 hrs.

15 hours

Second Semester

  • PHY 380 Quantum Physics or Elective - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 306 Electromagnetic Waves - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 350 Applied Quantum Physics Lab - 1 hr.
  • PHY Elective - 3 hrs.
  • Electives - 6 hrs.
  • PHY 399 Special Problems in Physics - 1 hr.

17 hours

Senior Year

First Semester

  • PHY 480 Quantum Mechanics I - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 399 Special Problems in Physics - 1 hr.
  • PHY 367 Statistical and Thermal Physics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY Elective - 3 hrs.
  • Electives - 6 hrs.

16 hours

Second Semester

  • PHY Elective - 6 hrs.
  • PHY 399 Special Problems in Physics - 1 hr.
  • Electives - 9 hrs.

16 hours

Total Hours: 129

Physics Education (9-12) Major

This course of study is designed to provide graduates with the education and training to teach physics at the secondary school level (grades 9-12). Students who select this major must also complete all the education requirements as mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education, which includes 44 hours of course work in the Teacher Education - High School Education program.

In addition to the courses required of all physics majors the students selecting this variation in the physics major must complete two courses from the following: PHY 320, 345, 361, 502, and 568. 

Suggested Program for Physics Education (9-12) Major

A student preparing to teach physics at the high-school level should follow the sequence shown below. Students who plan to teach in states other than Illinois should be aware that some of the education courses in this sequence might not apply toward licensure in those states.

Freshman Year

First Semester

  • Core Curr. (NS*) CHM 110 Gen. Chem. I or CHM 300 - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (CM W1) ENG 101 English Composition - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (QR) MTH 111 Elementary Statistics- 3 hrs.
  • MTH 121 Calculus I - 4 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (NS) PHY 110 University Physics I - 4 hrs.
  • PHY 199 Physics Seminar - 1 hr.

* CHM 110 must be taken with CHM 111 to satisfy the Core Curr. NS Area of Inquiry requirement.

18 hours

Second Semester

  • Core Curr. (MI) ETE 115 The History of Education in the United States - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 116 Field Experience: Schools and Schooling in American Society - 1 hr.
  • PHY 201 University Physics II - 4 hrs.
  • MTH 122 Calculus II - 4 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (CM OC) COM 103 Oral Communication Process - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (HU) - 3 hrs.

18 hours

Sophomore Year

First Semester

  • CS 101 Intro. to Programming - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 210 Human Development from Birth to Young Adulthood - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 211 Human Development from Birth to Young Adulthood and Effective Teaching Field Experience - 1 hrs.
  • ETE 280 Exploring Diversity - 3 hrs.
  • MTH 223 Calculus III - 4 hrs.
  • PHY 202 Applied Quantum Physics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 350 Applied Quantum Physics Laboratory - 1 hr.

18 hours

Second Semester

  • BIO 101 Life Sci. I or BIO 300 - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 216 Effective Planning and Instruction for Teaching - 3 hrs.
  • MTH 224 Elem. Differential Equations - 4 hrs.
  • PHY 320 Optics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 350 Optics Laboratory - 1 hr.
  • Core Curr. (GP) - 3 hrs.

17 hours

Junior Year

First Semester

  • Core Curr. (CM W2) English: 300-level Junior Composition - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 365 Teaching Reading in the Content Field - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 371 Assessment and Technology for Middle School and High School Teachers - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 305 Electricity and Magnetism - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (SB) - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. (FA) - 3 hrs.

18 hours

Second Semester

  • ETE 100 Technology Applications - 1 hr.
  • ETE 270 Physical Development and Health – 1 hr.
  • ETE 310 Teacher Performance Assessment - 1 hr.
  • ETE 374 Methods of Teaching High School Science - 3 hrs.
  • ETE 308 Novice Teaching Experience in the High School - 3 hrs
  • PHY 330 Classical Mechanics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 306 Electromagnetic Waves - 3 hrs.

  15 hours 

Senior Year

First Semester

  • ETE 345 Guiding Learners: Creating Safe Inclusive Learning Environments  - 3 hrs.
  • MTH 501 or an approved mathematics course - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 367 Statistical and Thermal Physics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 480 Quantum Mechanics I - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. Elective course from GP. HU, NS, QR, or SB - 3 hrs.
  • Core Curr. Elective course from GP, HU, NS, QR, or SB - 3 hrs.

18 hours

Second Semester

  • PHY 361 Electronics - 3 hrs.
  • PHY 399 Special Problems in Physics - 2 hrs.
  • ETE 499 Student Teaching in the High School - 12 hrs.

17 hours

Total Hours 139

To meet the requirements of the Teacher Education, MTH 111 must be completed.

For more information, see Teacher Education - High School Education program in the College of Education and Health Sciences section of this catalog.

Engineering Physics

The engineering physics major is offered through the College of Engineering and Technology. Details of this program are found in the College of Engineering and Technology section of this catalog. Engineering physics majors must meet all the requirements of the University and College of Engineering and Technology in addition to taking the required courses in physics and mathematics indicated above. Faculty advisors from both physics and engineering advise students who major in engineering physics.

Physics Minor

The physics minor consists of PHY 110; 201; and 202 and three additional elective courses at the 300 level chosen to fit the student's special interests. Students may select from the following: PHY 305, 306, 320, 330, 350 (two semester hours), 361, 367, 380, and 480.