Mar 05, 2024
The physics major curriculum provides a basic understanding of the various subdisciplines of physics and acquaints the student with the methods of measurement and mathematical and computer analysis. In addition, students receive a broad background in the liberal arts appropriate to the educated person in today’s culture.
The main research interests of the faculty are in quantum optics, low temperature physics, and astronomy and astrophysics. Widener is a member of the National Undergraduate Research Observatory (NURO) consortium, which maintains an observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, exclusively for use by undergraduate students. Widener faculty and interested students travel to the observatory twice yearly for a week of observations using the 31-inch telescope and CCD detector. Data is analyzed year-round on campus.
Physics majors may attain a minor in astrophysics by taking ASTR 210 and selecting ASTR 310 and ASTR 311 as two electives in the physics curriculum ladder. The astrophysics minor may also be pursued by students in the School of Engineering by taking the appropriate and upper-level physics courses, while substituting several engineering courses for corresponding physics courses.
Students who plan to pursue graduate studies in fields allied to physics (e.g., biophysics) may pursue a program of reduced loads in physics with additional coursework in the allied field.
Honors in Physics
The Honors in Physics program is for students who wish to extend their studies beyond the requirements for a BS in physics. Students wishing to graduate with “Honors in Physics” must complete a senior thesis. The senior thesis is intended to provide an opportunity for students to participate in an independent, investigative research project with recognition of their commitment and their motivation to exceed the requirements of the bachelor in science degree in physics. The students will carry out novel laboratory, theoretical, or observational research in physics or astronomy. The program includes a three-semester sequence (PHYS 408, PHYS 409 and PHYS 410). Students must defend their theses before a committee and earn a minimum grade of “A–” in PHYS 409 and PHYS 410 to receive the honors designation.
Outline of Program
The senior thesis is intended to provide an opportunity for students to participate in an independent, investigative research project with recognition of their commitment and their motivation to exceed the requirement of the bachelor in science degree in physics. The students carry out novel research in a field of physics. The program includes a three semester sequence.
A student typically takes the first course (PHYS 408 Senior Thesis Proposal) during the second semester of the junior year. The student may also take this course during the summer after the junior year. This 1-credit course involves generating a research proposal with extensive literature review. The student and his or her research advisor selects a committee of three members (including the advisor) approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The committee grades the proposal and determines if the student can continue with the research.
During the senior year, the student enrolls in two credits of research (PHYS 409 Senior Thesis in Physics I and PHYS 410 Senior Thesis in Physics II) during each semester. PHYS 409 is taken in the fall semester and is an automatic incomplete because the grade is based on successful completion of the thesis. PHYS 410 is a spring semester course. The student cannot take all four credits of research in one semester.
The student must be in good academic standing, with a minimum 3.0 GPA in physics, science, and overall course work.The student must have completed the four-semester physics core curriculum (PHYS 161, PHYS 163, PHYS 162, PHYS 164, PHYS 261, and PHYS 263).
Requirements of Senior Thesis
- Presentation of Research Proposal—A proposal, presented orally and in written form, must be approved by a Thesis Committee composed of the research advisor and two additional individuals approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The proposal is developed as part of a 1-credit, graded course, PHYS 408 Senior Thesis Proposal.
- Written Thesis—A 10- to 20-page report, due one week before Projects Day. The research is carried out as part of two 2-credit courses, PHYS 409 and PHYS 410 Senior Thesis I and II.
- Oral Presentation on Projects Day
- Defense—Within one week of Projects Day, the student responds to questions from the thesis committee. The student submits a revised thesis, which the committee must approve before the final grade can be submitted.
Total Credits: 123
†PHYS 316/PHYS 326 and PHYS 314 are taught in the spring semester alternate years.
††PHYS 315 and PHYS 313/PHYS 323 are taught in the fall semester alternate years.
The program of study that appears here applies to students who were admitted for the summer session of this catalog year and later. Students admitted prior to that term should select the appropriate catalog year of their admission. Choose previous catalogs from the Home, Graduate, or Undergraduate Catalog Page at http://Catalog.widener.edu.