Physics is the study of the basic physical principles that govern our universe. This study uses the language of mathematics and is applied in all other natural sciences (astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, etc.) and engineering. The objective of the major in Physics is to teach students those principles, and, in general, how to think scientifically about the physical world.
A basic education in physics is also applicable to many other fields, including astronomy, engineering, computer programming, geology, biophysics, medicine, medical technology, teaching, law, business, etc. Since the basic principles of physics do not go out of style, and will be the basis for many new technologies, the Physics major provides the ability to adapt to new conditions; hence its permanent value. After graduation approximately half of our Physics majors go on to graduate school, either in physics or in a related field (such as those mentioned above). The other half initially take positions in industry, but many of them later return to graduate school.
The major in Physics leads to the Bachelor of Science degree.
All courses used to satisfy the major requirements must be completed with a grade of C or higher, except that a maximum of three courses at the 100- or 200-level may be completed with a grade of C-.
Completion of the major requires approximately 65 credits.
A. Courses in Physics
1. The sequence PHY 125, 126, 127 with labs PHY 133 & 134 or PHY 141/133, 142/134 may substitute for PHY 131/133, 132/134. PHY 127 may be taken before PHY 126 .
2. At least four courses numbered 300 or above must be taken at Stony Brook.
3. AST 443 may substitute for PHY 445.
4. PHY/BME double majors who graduate with a BE in Biomedical Engineering may substitute BME 120 for PHY 277.
5. PHY/CSE double majors who graduate with a BS in Computer Science are exempt from PHY 277.
B. Courses in Mathematics
One of the following sequences: MAT 125, 126, 127 Calculus A, B, C or MAT 131, 132 Calculus I, II or MAT 141, 142 Honors Calculus I, II or MAT 171 Accelerated Single Variable Calculus or AMS 151, 161 Applied Calculus I, II. If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 (or MAT 119/MAT 123) is a required course for the major.
One of the following: MAT 205 Calculus III or MAT 203 Calculus III with Applications or AMS 261 Applied Calculus III or MAT 307 Multivariable Calculus with Linear Algebra.
One of the following: MAT 305 Calculus IV or MAT 303 Calculus IV with Applications or AMS 361 Applied Calculus IV: Differential Equations or MAT 308 Differential Equations with Linear Algebra.
One of the following: MAT 211 Introduction to Linear Algebra or AMS210 Applied Linear Algebra or both MAT 307 Multivariable Calculus with Linear Algebra and MAT 308 Differential Equations with Linear Algebra.
Note: Equivalency for MAT courses achieved on the Mathematics Placement Examination is accepted as fulfillment of the corresponding requirements, as indicated in the Course Descriptions section of this Bulletin.
C. Courses in Related Fields
Twelve credits of physics-related courses that complement a Physics major’s education are required. The intent is to add courses, especially in other quantitative sciences, which prepare the student for successful employment in research, education or industry. Any course beyond those required for the physics major that is required by the student’s minor, second major or master’s degree (for students in a combined degree program) is automatically included in the list of related courses. Additional related courses are listed below, but they are not exclusive. If another course is of interest and should qualify under the above goals, consult the undergraduate program director to see if it can be included.
D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement
Students are certified as satisfying the upper-division writing requirement by registering for the 0-credit PHY 459 and completing a writing project within their major. Students majoring in physics should consult an actual publication (for instance in Physical Review Letters or Physics Today) when considering the style of their submission. The writing project should be a clear, concise expression of a scientific statement. Within the first month of the semester in which the writing requirement is to be satisfied, the student should speak to the supervisor about his/her plans. If there are questions over the suitability of the proposed writing project, the student should discuss the proposal with the undergraduate program director. After the paper is accepted by the supervisor it is submitted to the undergraduate program director for a final approval. Satisfaction of the writing requirement is certified independently of the course grade, and is best completed in the junior year.
Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education. Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate. The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.
To receive the Bachelor of Science in Physics with honors, in addition to having completed all the requirements for the B.S. in Physics, a student must satisfy the following:
The Research Program
Students who wish to pursue graduate study in physics should choose a program similar to this suggested example:
Note: Of the courses mentioned above, the CHE courses, MAT 341, MAT 342, PHY 302, and 400 level courses other than PHY 445 are not required for the B.S. in Physics.
Specialization in Optics
Students majoring in Physics may decide to pursue a specialization in Optics. This specialization is listed on the official transcript.
In addition to the courses required for the major, students must complete the following with a grade of C or better to satisfy the requirements of the specialization:
A. Required Departmental Courses (6 credits)
PHY 302 Electricity and Magnetism II
PHY 452 Atomic Physics and Lasers
B. Optics-Related Laboratory Experience
PHY 487 Research (at least three credits, optics related)
C. One Additional Elective Course:
Either PHY 405 Advanced Quantum Mechanics, or one of many courses in other departments (including the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences-CEAS) that could meet the requirements for this additional elective. Advance approval of such courses must be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Examples of such courses in the CEAS are: ESE 340 Basic Communication Theory; ESE 358 Computer Vision; ESE 363 Fiber Optic Communications; and ESM 325 Diffraction Techniques.
Physics Secondary Teacher Education Program
See the Education and Teacher Certification entry in alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs.
Introductory Physics Sequences
The Department of Physics offers four Introductory Physics Sequences. The PHY 121, 122 sequence is designed specifically for students majoring in biological sciences or pre-medical/pre-health programs. Any of the other three sequences (PHY 131/133, 132/134; PHY 141/133, 142/134; PHY 125, 126, 127 and PHY 133 & 134 together with PHY 251/252 constitute a comprehensive introduction to classical and modern physics for those who may major in Physics, other physical sciences, or engineering. These three introductory Physics sequences cover the same material, although the pace is different. The two-semester sequence (PHY 131/133, 132/134 or PHY 141/133, 142/134) should be taken only by students who are prepared for a pace considerably faster than the three semester sequence (PHY 125/126/127/133/134). The PHY 141/133/142/134 sequence is designed for students with the strongest interest and preparation in physics and mathematics. In the PHY 125/126/133/127/134 sequence, PHY 126 and 127 may be taken in either order, although 133 remains a prerequisite for 134.
The minor in Physics is available for students who want their University studies to include significant upper-division work in physics.
All courses offered for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the minor requires approximately 20 physics, chemistry or engineering credits beyond the 100 level.
Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Arts and Sciences:
and one of the following:
Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences:
The following two courses:
One of the following:
One of the following:
One of the following:
One of the following:
|First Year Seminar 101||1|
|PHY 131/PHY 133||4|
|First Year Seminar 102||1|
|PHY 132/PHY 134||4|
|PHY 251/PHY 252||4|
Major and Minor in Physics
Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences
Chair: Chang-Kee Jung
Department Administrator: Nathan Leoce-Schappin
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Dominik Schneble
Assistant to the Director: Diane Diaferia
Astronomy Coordinator: Michael Zingale
Office: P-110 Physics
Phone: (631) 632-8036, 632-8100
Minors of particular interest to students majoring in Physics: Astronomy (AST), Computer Science (CSE), Electrical Engineering (ESE), Materials Science (ESM), Mathematics (MAT), Nanotechnology Studies (NTS), Science and Engineering (LSE)