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Undergraduate: Physics

  • Program Overview

    Physics (PHY)

    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.

  • Degrees and Requirements

    Requirements for the Major and Minor in Physics (PHY)

    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

    • PHY 131/133, 132/134 Classical Physics I, II with Laboratories (See Note 1)
    • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics with Laboratory
    • PHY 277 Computation for Physics and Astronomy
    • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
    • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
    • PHY 303 Mechanics
    • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
    • PHY 308 Quantum Physics
    • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
    • PHY 445 Senior Laboratory

    Notes:

    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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    • AMS: 102, 110, 301, 303, 310, 311, 315 332, 335, 345, 351 and other 300-level courses (not 361).
    • AST: 203, 205,287, 341, 346, 347, 443, 447 and 487.
    • ATM: 205, 247, 305, 320, 345, 346, 348, 397, 447 and 487.
    • BIO: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 207, 310, 311, 332 and other 300-level courses.
    • BME: 100, 212, 212, 260 and many 300-level courses.
    • CHE: 131/133, 132/134, 152, 154, 301, 302, 321, 322, 351, 375 and other 300-level courses.
    • CSE: 110, 130, 150, 230, and most 300-level courses.
    • ECO: 303, 305, 310, 321, 355 and 373.
    • ESE: many 200- and 300-level courses.
    • ESG: 302 and other 300-level courses.
    • ESM: many 200- and 300-level courses.
    • EST: 291, 320, 392, 393 and 499.
    • GEO: 287 and many 300-level courses.
    • HBM: 320 and 321.
    • ISE: 332
    • JRN: 365
    • MAT: 310, 312, 331, 333, 341, 342, 351, 362 and many 300-level courses (not 303, 305 or 307).
    • MAR: most 300-level courses.
    • MEC: most 300-level courses.
    • WSE: 187 and 242

    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.

    Honors

    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:

    1. PHY 487 Research (at least 3 credits total)
    2. Two other 400-level physics courses
    3. Overall grade point average of at least 3.30 in all physics courses numbered 300 or higher.

    The Research Program

    Students who wish to pursue graduate study in physics should choose a program similar to this suggested example:

    Freshman Year

    • PHY 131/133 Classical Physics I with Laboratory or PHY 141/133 Classical Physics I: Honors
    • PHY 132/134 Classical Physics II with Laboratory or PHY 142/134 Classical Physics II: Honors
    • MAT 131 Calculus I
    • MAT 132 Calculus II

    Sophomore Year

    • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics with Laboratory
    • PHY 277 Computation for Physics and Astronomy
    • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
    • MAT 307 Multivariable Calculus with Linear Algebra
    • MAT 308 Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
    • CHE 131, 132 General Chemistry
    • CHE 133, 134 General Chemistry Laboratory

    Junior Year

    • PHY 301, 302 Electromagnetic Theory
    • PHY 303 Mechanics
    • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
    • PHY 308 Quantum Physics
    • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
    • MAT 341 Applied Real Analysis
    • MAT 342 Applied Complex Analysis

    Senior Year

    • PHY 405 Advanced Quantum Physics
    • PHY 445 Senior Laboratory
    • At least 3 credits of PHY 487 research, and one other 400 level course.

    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.

    Minor

    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 20 physics credits beyond the Introductory Physics Sequence.

    Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Arts and Sciences:

    • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics
    • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
    • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
    • PHY 303 Mechanics
    • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
    • One of the following:
    • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
    • CHE 302 Physical Chemistry II

    Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences:

    • One of the following:
      • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics
      • ESG 281 An Engineering Introduction to the Solid State
    • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
    • One of the following:
      • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
      • ESE 319 Electromagnetics and Transmission Line Theory
      • PHY 303 Mechanics
    • One of the following:
      • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
      • MEC 398 Thermodynamics II
      • CME 314 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics II
    • One of the following:
      • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
      • ESE 314 Electronics Laboratory B
  • Sequence

    Sample Course Sequence for the Major in Physics

    A course planning guide for this major may be found hereThe major course planning guides are not part of the official Undergraduate Bulletin, and are only updated periodically for use as an advising tool. The Undergraduate Bulletin supersedes any errors or omissions in the major course planning guides.  

    FRESHMAN

    FALL Credits
    First Year Seminar 101 1
    WRT 101 3
    MAT 131 4
    PHY 131/PHY 133 4
    SBC 3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    First Year Seminar 102 1
    WRT 102 3
    MAT 132 4
    PHY 132/PHY 134 4
    SBC 3
     Total 15
     
    SOPHOMORE

    FALL Credits
    PHY 251/PHY 252 4
    PHY 277 3
    MAT 307 4
    SBC 3
    SBC
     3
     Total 17
     
    SPRING Credits
     PHY 300 4
     MAT 308 4
     SBC 3
     SBC 3
     SBC
     3
     Total 17
     
    JUNIOR

    FALL Credits
    PHY 301 3
    PHY 303 3
    PHY-related elective 3
    MAT 341  3
    SBC  3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    PHY 306 3
    PHY 308 3
    PHY 335 3
    MAT 342 3
    SBC 3
     Total 15
     
    SENIOR

    FALL Credits
    PHY 487  3
    PHY elective  3
    PHY-related elective  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    PHY 445 3
    PHY elective  3
    PHY-related elective   3 
    PHY-related elective  3
    Upper-division SBC 3
     Total 15

     

  • Contact

    Physics (PHY)

    Major and Minor in Physics

    Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

    Chairperson: Axel Drees

    Assistant to the Chair: Nathan Leoce-Schappin

    Director of Undergraduate Studies: Robert McCarthy

    Assistant to the Director: Diane Diaferia

    Astronomy Coordinator: James Lattimer

    Office: P-110 Physics

    Phone: (631) 632-8036, 632-8100

    Web address: http://www.physics.sunysb.edu/Physics/

    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)








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