Montana State University

Physics

Department of Physics

http://www.physics.montana.edu/

The physics curriculum is designed with considerable flexibility in order to accommodate the variety of interests, plans, and needs of majors. At the same time, it provides a broad and thorough understanding of the fundamental ideas and concepts related to the physical world surrounding us. Using this broad base, which stresses fundamentals, undergraduates may enter graduate work in one of the pure or applied sciences or one of the non-sciences such as education, business administration, law, journalism, or philosophy. They may also choose to go directly into jobs in education, industry, government, or business.

The Department of Physics offers graduate work leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Furthermore, the faculty in all research groups are strongly committed to enriching the undergraduate experience by providing opportunities for undergraduates to fully participate in cutting-edge research projects working alongside faculty and graduate students.

Professional Option

Intended primarily as preparation for graduate work in one of the physical sciences or for those who desire a career in the physical sciences, the professional option provides a sound background in the fundamentals of physics and mathematics.

Interdisciplinary Option

This option requires a minimum of 16 credits in the declared area and is designed for those who desire a firm background in mathematics and physics coupled with a concentration in another discipline such as chemistry, biology, computer science, engineering, or technical writing. Each student choosing this option will work out a specific program with an advisor and the participating department in the declared area.

Teaching Option

This option is intended primarily as preparation for secondary school teachers. Teaching options require a teaching minor from the list under the Department of Education. However, the only teaching minor that can be completed within 128 credits is Mathematics. Please contact the department advisor for specifics on other options.

Undergraduate Research Participation

An integral component of all undergraduate major programs in physics is participation in undergraduate research. Based on student interest, the faculty work closely with students in identifying and addressing important problems in particular sub-fields. Completion of a minimum of 2 credits of undergraduate research/creative activity (PHSX 490R) is required prior to taking the Capstone course (PHSX 499). Some students extend this experience beyond the minimum and work in research labs throughout their undergraduate program, including summers. Students from other majors who demonstrate interest and ability are also welcome to participate in undergraduate research in physics.

Senior Project

Students in the professional and interdisciplinary options will complete senior projects that integrate their physics knowledge and problem solving skills with research/creative activities. The senior project is designed to give a student the opportunity to develop skills that are necessary for work in a professional scientific environment by integrating their physics knowledge and problem solving skills with research/creative activities. For this activity, the student must enroll in a minimum of 2 credits of undergraduate research/creative activity (PHSX 490R). The results of this senior project are generally the basis for the presentation given in the Capstone course (PHSX 499).

The senior project will be based on a collaboration of a student with a mentor on a project that: is of interest to the student, is either experimental or theoretical in nature, has a defined objective and is primarily based on the student's own work. Usually these senior projects are based on research guided by one of the faculty in the Physics Department. However, there are several other options available to the student for these senior projects. Other options include, but are not limited to, research projects done by the student in other departments at Montana State University, research projects done by the student at other institutions which may occur during a student exchange program or on a summer intern program, and independent research/creative activity done by the student under the guidance of the student's faculty advisor.

Capstone Experience

Students in the professional and interdisciplinary options will present the results of their senior project in oral and written forms in the Capstone course (PHSX 499).

The capstone experience for those in the Physics Teaching Option is EDU 495 - Student Teaching: 5-12. Each student will submit a written report from the supervising teacher and a written self-assessment.

Departmental Honors in Physics

When appropriate, majors should consider the opportunities afforded by the departmental honors program. This program has the following requirements:

  1. A minimum 3.5 grade-point average (GPA) in physics; 3.0 GPA overall.
  2. A minimum of four credits of undergraduate research credit.
  3. An acceptable, bound senior thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis.
  4. Participation in a physics seminar for one semester in either the junior or senior year.

A detailed description of the program is available from the department.


Curricula in Physics


PROFESSIONAL OPTION



Freshman Year F S
PHSX 240 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys I*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
Choose one of the two:
     M 181--Honors Calc I (Recommended)    4
     M 171--Calculus I    4
PHSX 242 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys II*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
Choose one of the two:
     M 182--Honors Calculus II (Recommended)     4
     M 172--Calculus II     4
Biol,Chem, or Earth Science Electives      4
University Core and Electives    7 3
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
PHSX 200--Research Programs in Physics 1
PHSX 224--Physics III 4
Choose one of the two:
     M 283--Honors Multivar Calc (Recommended)     4
     M 273--Multivariable Calculus     4
PHSX 261--Laboratory Electronics I      2
PHSX 262 --Laboratory Electronics II     2
PHSX 301 --Intro Theoretical Phys     3
Choose one of the two:
     M 284--Honors Intro Diff Eqs (Recommended)     4
     M 274--Intro to Different Equations     4
University Core and Electives     4 6
15 15
Junior Year F S
PHSX 320 --Classical Mechanics    4
PHSX 322--Intermediate Physics    3
PHSX 423 --Electricity & Magnetism I    3
PHSX 331--Methods of Computational Physics     1
PHSX 446 --Thermodynamics & Stat Mechanics     3
PHSX 490--Undergrad Research Activity 1
Math Electives     3 3
Physics Electives     3
University Core and Electives     3 3
15 15
Senior Year F S
PHSX 425 --Electricity & Magnetism II     3
PHSX 461 --Quantum Mech I     3
PHSX 444 --Advanced Physics Lab (Fall and/or Spring)     4
PHSX 490--Undergrad Research 1
PHSX 499 --Senior Capstone Seminar    1
PHSX 462 --Quantum Mech II     3
Math Electives     3
Physics Electives     4
University Core and Electives     1 7
15 15

The physics electives are to be selected from PHSX 253 and PHSX and ASTR courses numbered 300 and above.  The mathematics electives are to be selected from M 221 and MATH and STAT courses numbered 300 and above. A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. A student changing majors or with unusual circumstances can substitute PHSX 220 for PHSX 240 or PHSX 222 for PHSX 242 with academic advisor's approval.


INTERDISCIPLINARY OPTION


Freshman Year F S
PHSX 240 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys I*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
Choose one of the two:
     M 181--Honors Calc I (Recommended)    4
     M 171--Calculus I    4
PHSX 242 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys II*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
Choose one of the two:
     M 182--Honors Calculus II (Recommended)     4
     M 172--Calculus II     4
Biol,Chem, or Earth Science Electives      4
University Core and Electives    7 3
15 15
Sophomore Year F S
PHSX 200--Research Programs in Physics 1
PHSX 224 --Physics III 4
Choose one of the two:
     M 283--Honors Multivar Calc (Recommended)     4
     M 273--Multivariable Calculus     4
PHSX 261--Laboratory Electronics I      2
PHSX 262 --Laboratory Electronics II     2
PHSX 301 --Intro Theoretical Phys     3
Choose one of the two:
     M 284--Honors Intro Diff Eqs (Recommended)     4
     M 274--Intro to Different Equations     4
Declared Area      4
University Core and Electives     6
15 15
Junior Year F S
PHSX 320 --Classical Mechanics    4
PHSX 322--Intermediate Physics    3
PHSX 423 --Electricity & Magnetism I    3
PHSX 490--Undergrad Research 1
Declared Area     4 4
Math Electives     3 3
University Core and Electives     5
15 15
Senior Year F S
PHSX 461 --Quantum Mechanics I    3
PHSX 490--Undergrad Research Activity 1
PHSX 499 --Senior Capstone Seminar    1
Physics Electives     3 3
Declared Area     4
University Core and Electives 4 11
15 15

The physics electives are to be selected from PHSX 253 and PHSX and ASTR courses numbered 300 and above.  The mathematics electives are to be selected from M 221 and MATH and STAT courses numbered 300 and above. A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. A student changing majors or with unusual circumstances can substitute PHSX 220 for PHSX 240 or PHSX 222 for PHSX 242 with academic advisor's approval.


PHYSICS TEACHING OPTION


Freshman Year F S
EDU 202--Early Field Experience    1
HDCF 150IS--Lifespan Human Devlpmt     3
HDHL 106--Drug Health Issue for Ed     1
PHSX 240 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys I*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
Choose one of the two:
     M 181--Honors Calc I (Recommended)    4
     M 171--Calculus I    4
PHSX 242 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys II*      4
     *See note below on substitutions
     M 182--Honors Calculus II (Recommended)     4
     M 172--Calculus II     4
Biol,Chem, or Earth Science Electives      3
University Core and Electives    5 3
16 16
Sophomore Year F S
EDU 223--Ed Psy & Adolescent Dev 3
PHSX 224 --Physics III 4
Choose one of the two:
     M 283--Honors Multivar Calc (Recommended)     4
     M 273--Multivariable Calculus     4
PHSX 261--Laboratory Electronics I      2
PHSX 301 --Intro Theoretical Phys     3
Choose one of the two:
     M 284--Honors Intro Diff Eqs (Recommended)     4
     M 274--Intro to Different Equations     4
M 242--Methods of Proof     3
University Core and Electives     3 6
16 16
Junior Year F S
EDU 370--Integrat Tech into Education 2
EDU 382--Assessment, Curric, Instruction 2
M 328--Higher Math for Sec Teachers     3
PHSX 320 --Classical Mechanics     4  
PHSX 322--Intermediate Physics     3  
Choose one of the two:
     ASTR 371 --Solar System Astronomy    4
     ASTR 373--Stars, Galaxies & the Universe     4
EDU 211D--Multicultural Education 3
PHSX 423 --Electricity & Magnetism I     3
HDCF 356--Exceptional Children     3
M 329--Modern Geometry     3
University Core and Elect (if ASTR 373 is chosen)     2
16 16
Senior Year F S
EDU 395--Practicum: 5-12     1
EDU 497--Methods: 9-12 Mathematics     3
EDU 497--Methods: 5-12 Science      3
M 428--Math Modeling for Teachers     3
STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics     3
EDU 495--Student Teaching: 5-12     10
EDU 408--Professional Issues: 5-12     2
Physics Electives     3
University Core & Electives     4
16 16

The physics electives are to be selected from PHSX courses numbered 200 and above. A minimum of 128 credits is required for graduation; 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 and above. A student changing majors or with unusual circumstances can substitute PHSX 220 for PHSX 240 or PHSX 222 for PHSX 242 with academic advisor's approval.


PHYSICS MINOR (NON-TEACHING)

Choose one of the two: Credits
     PHSX 220--Gen & Mod Phys I    4
     PHSX 240 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys I*          *Recommended    4
Choose one of the two:
     PHSX 222--Physics II    4
     PHSX 242 --Honors Gen & Mod Phys I*          *Recommended    4
PHSX 224 --Physics III    4
PHSX 301 --Intro Theoretical Phys     3
Choose one of the two:
     PHSX 320 --Classical Mechanics    4
     PHSX 322--Intermediate Physics     3
Physics electives (261 or 300 level or above) 8
26

PHSX 240 and 242 are recommended choices. Students who complete PHSX 320 require 7 additional physics elective credits. Students who complete PHSX 322 require 8 additional physics elective credits.


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