Mar 22, 2019  
2009-2010 University Catalog 
    
2009-2010 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics – Major


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Physics is the fundamental science of nature, encompassing the tiniest and largest things in the world—and every scale in between. In past centuries, physicists have unraveled laws governing the forces of nature and explored the structure of matter at the deepest level. Today some of the most exciting discoveries in physics are at the nanoscale—the realm of atoms and molecules—and apply to biological materials as well as other types of substances.

USP offers a unique bachelor of science in physics degree. The program is exceptional in offering one of the few undergraduate physics programs in the region with biophysics and materials science tracks. These tracks provide focus to upper-level courses and offer an applied interdisciplinary connection with current issues in industry, medicine, and research. The culmination of the student learning experience in the program is a capstone senior-level research course sequence where each student is matched with a physics faculty mentor to complete a project and develop and deliver a formal seminar presentation.

Students who obtain a bachelor of science in physics degree could potentially go on to engineering, medical, graduate, teaching, and other professional schools, as well as a career in industry or any other pursuit in which knowledge of physics is a prerequisite. By concentrating in the biophysics degree track, students will get a heavier emphasis in biological sciences that would benefit them in careers as a medical physicist, biomedical researcher, or imaging/MRI professional. In the materials science track, students will receive a heavier focus on new materials and nanostructures useful in the development of new biomedical technologies, cancer research, alternative sources of energy, the next generation of computers, and engineering functions.

Students in the physics program will:

  • Understand the discipline-specific knowledge in physics.
  • Be able to integrate knowledge of physics with knowledge from other disciplines.
  • Have strong physics reasoning and problem-solving skills and be able to apply these skills to the solution of theoretical and applied problems.
  • Have strong skills in applying experimental methods.
  • Be able to read and understand scientific literature.
  • Be able to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with both professionals and non-professionals.
  • Be able to work effectively within a team and to assume a leadership role.
  • Have a broad educational background.
  • Understand the application of physical techniques to biological systems (biophysics track).
  • Understand the properties of matter on the atomic and molecular scales and how these relate to macroscopic structures (materials science track).

Physics Degree Requirements


The minimum number of credit hours to obtain a BS in physics is 122. In addition to the general education requirements all students must take at USP, the following are the courses needed for the program.

Additional Unrestricted Electives (minimum of 6 credits)


Materials Science Track Requirements (18 credits):


Additional Requirements


Passing the writing proficiency examination is a graduation requirement for students who entered in Catalog Year 2008 or earlier (see Catalog Year for Degree Requirements). Students who have failed the examination are urged to seek assistance from the Writing Center. Students who entered in Catalog Year 2006 or earlier must also pass the computer competency requirement.

Sample Physics Curriculum Plan (No Track Selected)


Students entering in Catalog Year 2009 and beyond (graduating classes of 2013 and beyond)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Fall Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Intellectual Heritage I Credits: 3


(Choose one)

Credits/Semester: 17


Spring Semester


  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Intellectual Heritage II Credits: 3


(Choose one)

Credits/Semester: 16


Third Year


Credits/Semester: 15


Spring Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 16


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 14


Spring Semester


  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 15


Minimum Total Credits for BS Degree (No Track Selected): 122


Sample Physics Curriculum Plan – Biophysics Track


Students entering in Catalog Year 2009 and beyond (graduating classes of 2013 and beyond)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Third Year


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • Biology/Biochemistry Elective Credits: 3
  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 17


Spring Semester


  • Biology/Biochemistry Program Elective Credits: 3
  • Biology/Biochemistry Program Elective Credits: 3
  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 15


Minimum Total Credits for BS Degree with Biophysics Track: 129


Sample Physics Curriculum Plan – Materials Science Track


Students entering in Catalog Year 2009 and beyond (graduating classes of 2013 and beyond)—with general education.

First Year


Second Year


Fall Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Intellectual Heritage I Credits: 3


(Choose one)

Credits/Semester: 17


Spring Semester


  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Intellectual Heritage II Credits: 3


(Choose one)

Credits/Semester: 16


Third Year


Credits/Semester: 15


Spring Semester


  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 16


Fourth Year


Fall Semester


  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • General Education Requirement Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 17


Spring Semester


  • Physics Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3
  • Free Elective Credits: 3

Credits/Semester: 15


Minimum Total Credits for BS Degree with Materials Science Track: 125


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