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Enter Graduate School, Become a Physicist and More

Physics Major

Division of Natural Sciences

Want to pursue a graduate degree in physics or a physics-related career in industry? Get your degree in physics from BC.

Physics Major

For students planning on graduate study in physics or engineering or a physics-related career in industry.

Required courses:

During the first term Kinematics Newtons lawsof motion conservation laws rotational motionperiodic motion and fluid mechanics. During thesecond term Thermodynamics electricitymagnetism optics and modern physics. Acombination of lectures and learning by inquiryare employed. Computers are used for dataacquisition data analysis and mathematicalmodeling. Three hours in class one hour inrecitation and two hours in lab per week.Prerequisite MATH 130 or 132 or concurrentenrollment in MATH 131 132 respectively.

Unit(s): 4

During the first term Kinematics Newtons lawsof motion conservation laws rotational motionperiodic motion and fluid mechanics. During thesecond term Thermodynamics electricitymagnetism optics and modern physics. Acombination of lectures and learning by inquiryare employed. Computers are used for dataacquisition data analysis and mathematicalmodeling. Three hours in class one hour inrecitation and two hours in lab per week.Prerequisite MATH 130 or 132 or concurrentenrollment in MATH 131 132 respectively. PHYS221 is prerequisite to PHYS 222.General Education Natural & Physical Science

Unit(s): 4

Series expansions complex exponential functionsvector and partial derivatives and transforms(eg Fourier and Laplace). Methods andapplications of differential equations (waveequation boundary value problems separation ofvariables Sturm-Liouville type equations such asBessel functions). Mathematical software (egMathematica) is incorporated.Prerequisites PHYS-221Corequisites MATH-132

Unit(s): 3

Analog electronics including diodeand transistor operation mathematical circuitanalysis operational amplifier applications. Twohours in class and six hours in lab per week.Prerequisites PHYS 222 and MATH 132Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 4

A survey of 20th century physics. Topics includerelativity wave-particle dualism Schroedingerequation wave functions spectra nuclearphysics and elementary particles.Prerequisites PHYS 222 and MATH 132Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3

PHYS-311
Electrostatics scalar potential electric fieldsand energy in conductors and dielectricselectriccurrents magnetic fields and energy leading upto Maxwells equations and from there toelectromagnetic radiation.Prerequisites PHYS 222 and MATH 132Alternate years offered 2016-2017

Unit(s): 3

-or-
Schroedinger equation square well harmonicoscillator hydrogen atom matrix methodsangularmomentum spin and approximation methods.Prerequisites PHYS 308 and MATH 232Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3

Classical and modern experiments give the studenta basic understanding of experimental methods.Involves several lectures and extensive lab work.Prerequisites PHYS 222 and MATH 132Alternate years offered 2017-20186

Unit(s): 3

This course is an introduction to computerprogramming using Java a contemporaryobject-oriented language. Topics covered includethe Java programming language ad fundamentalconcepts for algorithm and software design. Theseinclude problem-solving methods procedural anddata abstraction top-down modular design andproper programming style. Students gainexperience using these skills to design codedebug and document computer programs. The coursecontains 3 credit hours of lecture and 2 hours oflab per week.

Unit(s): 4

Study of differential calculus of a singlevariable. Applications of the derivative are madeto curve sketching max-min problems and linearapproximation and IHopitals Rule. Alsoincludedare applications of the Intermediate ValueTheoremand Mean Value Theorem. Credit may not bereceivedfor both MATH 130 and 131.Prerequisites MATH 120 or satisfactoryperformance on placement test

Unit(s): 3

Study of integral calculus of a single variable.Included are techniques of integration andnumerical methods of integration. Applications ofthe integral are made to computing area volumearc length and selected topics.Prerequisite MATH 131

Unit(s): 3

Continuation of Calculus I and II. Included areTaylor polynomials infinite series and polarcoordinates. Also included is an introduction tomultivariate calculus and multiple integrals.Prerequisites MATH 132

Unit(s): 3

Introduction to multivariate calculus. Includedare calculus of vector-valued functions andmotionin space limits continuity and partialderivatives of functions of several variablesvector fields Greens Theorem The DivergenceTheorem and Stokes Theorem.Prerequisites MATH 210 and 231

Unit(s): 3

And two additional PHYS courses numbered 300 or above.

In addition, complete the Senior Capstone requirement by choosing one of the following options:

Students design develop and present a projectbased on a theoretical computational andorexperimental problem in physics or appliedphysics.Prerequisites Senior standing with a major inphysics or applied physics or permission ofinstructor

Unit(s): 1
, 498
-or-
Upon approval of the Department and the VicePresident and Dean of Academic Affairs a studentwith a cumulative grade point average of 2.20 orbetter may engage in an independent study orresearch project. One desiring to pursueindependent study or research must submit awritten description of the proposed work to thechair of the appropriate department and to theVice President and Dean for Academic Affairs bythe first day of the semester in which the studyis to be conducted. At the end of the semesterthe supervising professor files with the Registrara grade for the student and a description of thework accomplished. Credit may be received for notmore than three independent studies or researchprojects.

Unit(s): 3

-or-
An Honors Project is one in which a studentresearches a subject by examination of relevantliterature or by experimentation or both thestudent reports the results in an accuratelydocumented and well-written paper or appropriaterepresentation of the work. Whenever the studydeals with the subject of an established coursethe student is expected to go well beyond theusual work of the course in research and inassimilation of the results as revealed in thereport. Juniors and seniors with a cumulativegrade point average of 3.40 or above may registerfor an Honors Project. One desiring to pursue anHonors Project must submit a written descriptionof his or her proposed work to the chair of theappropriate department and to the Vice Presidentand Dean for Academic Affairs by the first day ofthe semester in which the study is to beconducted. At the conclusion of the HonorsProject the supervising professor files with theRegistrar a grade for the student and adescription of the work accomplished and withtheLibrary Director a copy of the written paper orappropriate representation of the work. It isthestudents responsibility to provide the materialsfor the library in compliance with specificationsapproved by the Council on Education. TheLibraryDirector arranges for binding and storage.

Unit(s): 3

-or-
With prior permission of the Physics Departmenta summer research experience in physics or aclosely-related field may be used as the basisfor a written thesis and oral defense. The thesiswill demonstrate synthesis of previous courseworkin the program and a professional level ofwriting and oral communication.Prerequisites Senior standing with a major inphysics or applied physics or permission ofinstructor

Unit(s): 1

Students admitted to the Teacher Education Program may substitute EDU 470 to meet the Senior Capstone requirement.

Supporting Coursework for the Major

Strongly Recommended Supporting Coursework for Graduate School in Physics

This course will further develop and expand uponthe topics introduced in CSCI 105. Topics willinclude object-oriented concepts such asinheritance polymorphism and exception handling.Other topics include IO multithreading andgraphical user interfaces. The object-orientedprogramming language Java will be used toillustrate these topics. Problem solvingalgorithm development program design andtesting are emphasized. The course contains 3credit hours of lecture and 2 hours of lab perweek.Prerequisite CSCI 105Co-requisite MATH 110

Unit(s): 4

Introduction to ordinary and partial differentialequations. Included are solving first orderdifferential equations and linear differentialequations with constant coefficients seriessolutions of differential equations solvingelementary partial differential equations.Prerequisites MATH 231Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3

Emphasis on finite dimensional vector spaces andthe algebra of matrices. Vector topics includen-dimensional vectors dot product normorthogonality lines planes projections andcross products. Matrix topics include systems ofequations matrix operations Gauss eliminationdeterminants eigenvalues and eigenvectors.Prerequisites MATH 120

Unit(s): 3

-or-
Fundamentals of linear algebra including vectorspaces matrix algebra linear transformationsand eigenvectors and eigenvaluesPrerequisites MATH 132 210 and 300Alternate years offered 2015-2016

Unit(s): 3

Electrostatics scalar potential electric fieldsand energy in conductors and dielectricselectriccurrents magnetic fields and energy leading upto Maxwells equations and from there toelectromagnetic radiation.Prerequisites PHYS 222 and MATH 132Alternate years offered 2016-2017

Unit(s): 3

Schroedinger equation square well harmonicoscillator hydrogen atom matrix methodsangularmomentum spin and approximation methods.Prerequisites PHYS 308 and MATH 232Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3


Strongly Recommended Supporting Coursework for Graduate School in Engineering

This course will further develop and expand uponthe topics introduced in CSCI 105. Topics willinclude object-oriented concepts such asinheritance polymorphism and exception handling.Other topics include IO multithreading andgraphical user interfaces. The object-orientedprogramming language Java will be used toillustrate these topics. Problem solvingalgorithm development program design andtesting are emphasized. The course contains 3credit hours of lecture and 2 hours of lab perweek.Prerequisite CSCI 105Co-requisite MATH 110

Unit(s): 4

Introduction to ordinary and partial differentialequations. Included are solving first orderdifferential equations and linear differentialequations with constant coefficients seriessolutions of differential equations solvingelementary partial differential equations.Prerequisites MATH 231Alternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3

Topics include iterative techniques for solvingnon-linear equations numerical differentiationand integration and differential equations.Prerequisites MATH 231 and CSCI 105Alternate years offered 2016-2017

Unit(s): 3

Computational and numerical techniques forproblem-solving in physics. Methods fordifferential equations Monte Carlo simulationsand modeling of physical systems (eg fluidflows electrostatics waves). Topics implementedin a programming language appropriate forcomputational physics (eg Python). Alternate years offered 2019-2020 Prerequisites CSCI-105 and PHYS-222

Unit(s): 3

Course in fluid mechanics covering fluidproperties statics and dynamics. Topics coveredinclude hydrodynamics viscous flows potentialflows turbulence and boundary layer analysis.Use of Bernoulli Euler and Navier-Stokesequations. Additional topics may include airfoiltheory shock waves instabilities and plasmas. Alternate years offered 2018-2019 Prerequisites PHYS-300 and a minimum grades ofC- in PHYS-222

Unit(s): 3


Strongly Recommended Supporting Coursework for Teaching Licensure in Mathematics

Emphasis is on mathematical proofs. Topicsinclude properties of integers (such as oddeven prime etc.) division algorithm leastcommon multiples greatest common divisorsbinary operations ad modular arithmetic.Prerequisites MATH 110

Unit(s): 3

Emphasis on finite dimensional vector spaces andthe algebra of matrices. Vector topics includen-dimensional vectors dot product normorthogonality lines planes projections andcross products. Matrix topics include systems ofequations matrix operations Gauss eliminationdeterminants eigenvalues and eigenvectors.Prerequisites MATH 120

Unit(s): 3

Basic descriptive statistics probabilityhypothesis testing correlation and regression.Statistical computer software is used to analyzedata.Prerequisites MATH 118 MATH 110 MATH 115 orsatisfactory performance on placement test

Unit(s): 3

-or-
Fundamentals of probability and distributiontheory. Includes probability theory countingtechniques conditional probability randomvariables moments moment generating functionsan introduction to multivariate distributionsand transformations of random variables.Prerequisites MATH 231 or permission of theinstructorAlternate years offered 2017-2018

Unit(s): 3

The first part of the course is devoted to naiveset theory and includes the algebra of setsrelations functions and orders. The second partis devoted to logic including truth tables andfirst-order predicate calculus.Prerequisites MATH 132 and 200

Unit(s): 3

Fundamental concepts of geometry includingprojective and non-Euclidean geometries withemphasis on the axiomatic method.Prerequisites MATH 132 210 and 300 orpermission of the instructorAlternate years offered 2016-2017

Unit(s): 3

Survey of the history of mathematics from ancientcivilizations to the modern mathematics of the19th-century.Prerequisites MATH 132Alternate years offered 2016-2017

Unit(s): 3


Recommended Minors for Graduate School in Physics or Engineering

  • Computer Science (for Physics or Engineering)
  • Mathematics (for Physics or Engineering)
  • Environmental Science (for Environmental Engineering/Civil Engineering)

Activities and Clubs

Join the Society of Physics Students, Bridgewater College Chapter

  • Develop leadership skills as you plan meetings, events and trips designed to promote the awareness of physics
  • Conduct science demonstrations at area elementary schools
  • Be part of a chapter that has been recognized as an “Outstanding Chapter” in the nation

Careers and Graduate Schools

What can you do with a degree in physics?

Like the department’s recent graduates, you might enter graduate schools such as:

  • East Carolina University (Medical Physics)
  • James Madison University (Computer Science)
  • Old Dominion University (Physics)
  • University of Tennessee (Physics)
  • University of Virginia (Mechanical Engineering)

Or pursue a career as a:

  • Computer Programmer
  • Design Engineer
  • Laboratory Manager
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Physicist
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Research Assistant
  • Teacher

Learn more about career paths, employment and advancement in the field of physics from the Society of Physics Students.

Visit the Department Homepage

Questions? Contact Us!

Dr. Philip Spickler
540-828-5767
pspickler@bridgewater.edu