The physics curriculum introduces students to concepts and techniques basic to our present understanding of the physical universe. Diverse courses emphasize theories and principles that give a broad, unifying description of nature and develop the analytical reasoning needed for their use. Probing the interrelationships between matter and energy, students and faculty explore such fields as astronomy, electromagnetism, optics, elementary particles, relativity, quantum mechanics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Laboratory training stresses the design of experiments, the techniques of precise measure-ment, the interpretation of data, and written and oral communication. In advanced courses, students apply their skills through independent studies and research with faculty, in contrast to programs at larger institutions. Our physics faculty is dedicated to teaching, while remaining actively engaged in research. Mentoring relationships between faculty and students are the norm.
The physics major is flexible. The possibility of a double major is limited only by interests, dedication, and imagination. Gettysburg College physics majors have succeeded in diverse careers, including government, law, and management, as well as engineering, particle physics, and molecular biology. Our majors who choose graduate study have been well prepared for study in a wide range of fields, including astronomy; astrophysics; biophysics; business; geophysics; environmental, electrical, nuclear, and ocean engineering physics; and physiological psychology.
The department offers both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree for the major. This diverse, flexible major is well suited for a variety of careers, including secondary school physics teaching, industrial research, and graduate school in such fields as engineering, computer science, law, and medicine.
B.A. requirements: A minimum of ten physics courses is required for the major. This includes the following six core courses: Physics 111, 112, 211, 255, 310, an advanced lab course (Physics 324, Physics 352, Chemistry 306, or an approved course from on-campus or abroad), and three additional courses at the 200-level or higher, at least one of which must be from: Physics 312, 319, 330, and 341 and either Physics 420 or Physics 460. Physics 460 requires departmental approval by the end of fall semester in the junior year. Students starting the physics major in their sophomore may opt to take Phy109, 110 and one additional elective at the 200-level or higher instead of the Phy111-112-211 sequence.
In addition, all physics majors are required to complete mathematics courses through Mathematics 211 or its equivalent.
First-year students who are considering a major should enroll in Physics 111, 112, and Mathematics 111 and 112 if possible. Those planning on attending graduate school in physics should plan to take the additional courses listed under the B.S. requirement below. Those considering graduate work in astronomy, engineering, or related fields are encouraged to augment their physics major with relevant additional courses in astronomy, mathematics, computer science, and chemistry. Students are not permitted to take more than twelve courses in the department without permission of the department, unless the thirteenth course is Physics 460 (Independent Study).
B.S. requirements: In addition to the six core courses mentioned above, the B.S. degree requires Physics 460; at least three courses from Physics 312, 319, 330, and 341; and any two courses at the 200 level or above. Candidates for the B.S. degree must also complete Mathematics 225 by the end of the fall semester of the junior year.
Minor requirements: A minor in physics consists of six Physics courses which include either the 109-110 or 111-112-211 introductory sequence. The remaining courses must be at the 200-level or above. The minor represents an appropriate complement to a variety of majors, including mathematics and computer science.
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