Physics, B.S. (Behrend)

Program Code: PHYBC_BS

Entrance to Major

To be eligible for entrance to the Physics major, a student must have:

  1. attained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average;
  2. completed CHEM 110, MATH 140, MATH 141, PHYS 211, and PHYS 212, and earned a grade of C or better in each of these courses.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, a minimum of 122 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 1
Requirements for the Major 94

18 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GWS courses.

Per Senate Policy 83.80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

Each student must earn at least a grade of C in each 300- and 400-level course in the major field.

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Common Requirements for the Major (All Options)

Prescribed Courses
CHEM 111Experimental Chemistry I Keystone/General Education Course1
CHEM 112Chemical Principles II Keystone/General Education Course3
CHEM 113Experimental Chemistry II Keystone/General Education Course1
CMPSC 121Introduction to Programming Techniques Keystone/General Education Course3
ENGL 202CEffective Writing: Technical Writing Keystone/General Education Course3
MATH 220Matrices Keystone/General Education Course2
MATH 230Calculus and Vector Analysis4
MATH 251Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations4
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CHEM 110Chemical Principles I Keystone/General Education Course3
MATH 140Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course4
MATH 141Calculus with Analytic Geometry II Keystone/General Education Course4
PHYS 211General Physics: Mechanics Keystone/General Education Course4
PHYS 212General Physics: Electricity and Magnetism Keystone/General Education Course4
PHYS 213General Physics: Fluids and Thermal Physics Keystone/General Education Course2
PHYS 214General Physics: Wave Motion and Quantum Physics Keystone/General Education Course2
PHYS 237Introduction to Modern Physics3
PHYS 400Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism3
PHYS 419Theoretical Mechanics3
PHYS 420Thermal Physics3
PHYS 421WResearch Methods in Physics3
PHYS 458Intermediate Optics4
PHYS 494Physics Research Project3
Requirements for the Option
Select an option28

Requirements for the Option

Computational Physics Option (28 credits)
Prescribed Courses
CMPSC 122Intermediate Programming3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
MATH 455Introduction to Numerical Analysis I3
PHYS 402Electronics for Scientists4
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select one of the following:3
Scientific Visualization
Data Structures and Algorithms
Operating System & Systems Programming
Select 12 credits of the following:12
Signals and Systems: Continuous and Discrete-Time
Fundamentals of Digital Signal Processing
Introduction to Numerical Analysis II
Heat Transfer
Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I
Solid State Physics
The Year in Physics: A Seminar on the Latest Research
Physics Research Project (1-3 credits)
Internship (1-3 credits)
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 3 credits from a school-approved list3
General Physics Option (28 credits)
Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
PHYS 410Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 12 credits of the following:12
Complex Analysis
Introduction to Numerical Analysis I
Introduction to Numerical Analysis II
Electronics for Scientists
Solid State Physics
The Year in Physics: A Seminar on the Latest Research
Physics Research Project (1-3 credits)
Internship (1-3 credits)
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select one of the following two sequences:13
Sequence A
Select 8 credits of a foreign language 1
Select 5 credits from a school-approved list
Sequence B
Intermediate Programming
Select one of the following:
Scientific Visualization 2
Data Structures and Algorithms 2
Operating System & Systems Programming 2
Select 7 credits from a school-approved list

Program Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Learn, integrate, and apply knowledge and methodological approaches from the basic core areas of electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, optics, and quantum mechanics.
  2. Build a conceptual understanding of the connections between our mathematical models and the nature of the universe.
  3. Use critical thinking to formulate and solve quantitative physical problems by applying theory, mathematical, and computational methods.
  4. Apply the methods of scientific inquiry in designing and performing experiments and using data analysis for laboratory and research projects.
  5. Effectively communicate their course work and research through organized, logical, and scientifically sound oral and written reports.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

Erie

Darren Williams, Ph.D.
Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics
120 Witkowski
Erie, PA 16563
814-898-6008
dmw145@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2020-21 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

General Physics Option at Erie Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 110*#†3CHEM 1123
CHEM 1111CHEM 1131
MATH 140*‡#†4MATH 141*‡#†4
ENGL 15 or ENGL 30‡†3PHYS 211*#4
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GWH)1.5
PSU 71 
 16.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 212*#4CMPSC 1213
PHYS 213*2PHYS 237*3
PHYS 214*2MATH 2514
MATH 2202CAS 100‡†3
MATH 2304General Education Course3
General Education Course3 
 17 16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 421W*3PHYS 419*3
PHYS 420*3PHYS 414 (Supports Additional Course Selection)*3
CMPSC 122 (or World Language - 4 credits)3CMPSC 465 or 474 (or World Language - 4 credits)*3
ENGL 202C3PHYS 494 or 495*3
PHYS 494 or 495 (PHYS 494 Supports Additional Course Selection)*1Additional Course Selection*3
General Education Course (GN)3 
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 400*3PHYS 410*3
PHYS 402*4PHYS 458*4
Supporting Courses and Related Areas3-4*Supporting Courses and Related Areas3-4
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 10 13-14
Total Credits 120-121

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Program Notes

Scheduling patterns for courses not taught each semester
Some major requirements will be offered only once a year or every other year depending on demand. 400 level physics courses are taught on a rotating basis; courses are taught only once every other year.
-Fall only courses include: CMPSC 474, MATH 455, PHYS 400, PHYS 402, PHYS 420, PHYS 421W
-Spring only courses include: CMPSC 455, MATH 421ME 428MATH 456PHYS 410, PHYS 414, PHYS 419, PHYS 458

1.) All first year baccalaureate degree candidates are required to complete, during the first academic year, a seminar course.
2.) Any 300 or 400 level science or mathematics course requires a C or better.
3.) Students with a prior introduction to calculus may take MATH 140 and PHYS 211 concurrently in their first semester.
4.  A course noting "Supports Additional Course Selection" counts as an "Additional Course Selection." A total of 23 credits must be taken in this area. Possible course substitutions are listed below in the Additional Course Selection List.  Please note that three credits of PHYS 494 and/or PHYS 495 are prescribed. Any additional credits in PHYS 494 or PHYS 495 (up to a maximum of 3 credits) may be applied to the additional course requirement.
5.) Supporting Courses - students must select (3) credits from the following: CMPSC 459 Scientific VisualizationCMPSC 456 Introduction to Numerical Analysis IICMPSC 474 Operating System & Systems Programming. CMPSC 456 is recommended.
6.) Students must select (3) credits from the Supporting Course List below. MATH 456 or CMPSC 456 is recommended.

Advising Notes

Additional Course Selection List*
EE 352 Signals and Systems: Continuous and Discrete-Time
PHYS 414 Solid State Physics
MATH 421 Complex Analysis
MATH 455 Introduction to Numerical Analysis I
MATH 456 Introduction to Numerical Analysis II
PHYS 402 Electronics for Scientists
PHYS 446 The Year in Physics: A Seminar on the Latest Research
PHYS 494 Physics Research Project
PHYS 495 Internship

Supporting Course List
ASTRO 291 or higher
BIOL 110 or higher
CHEM 210 or higher
CMPSC 200 or higher
MATH 300 or 400 level*
STAT 300 or 400 level*

Unacceptable Courses for the Physics Major or Minor
Math courses below MATH 140
Physics courses below PHYS 211
PHYS 250
PHYS 251

Computational Physics Option at Erie Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 110*#†3CHEM 1123
CHEM 111†‡1CHEM 1131
MATH 140*#†4MATH 141*‡#†4
ENGL 15 or ENGL 30‡†3PHYS 211*#4
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GHW)1.5
PSU 71 
 16.5 16.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 212*#4PHYS 237*3
PHYS 213*2MATH 2514
PHYS 214*2CAS 100‡†3
MATH 2202CMPSC 1223
MATH 2304General Education Course3
CMPSC 1213 
 17 16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 420*3PHYS 419*3
PHYS 421W*3PHYS 414 (Supports Additional Course Selection)*3
General Education Course (GN)3CMPSC 465*3
PHYS 494 (Supports Additional Course Selection)*1PHYS 494 or 495*3
CMPSC 474*3General Education Course3
ENGL 202C‡†3 
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 400*3EE 352 (Supports Additional Course Selection)*4
PHYS 402*4PHYS 458*4
MATH 455 or CMPSC 455*3MATH 456 or CMPSC 456 (MATH 456 Supports Additional Course Selection)*3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 13 14
Total Credits 124

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Program Note

1.) All first-year baccalaureate candidates are required to complete, during the first academic year, a seminar course.
2.) Any 300 or 400 level Science or Math course requires a C or better.
3.) Students with a prior introduction to calculus may take MATH 140 and PHYS 211 concurrently in their first semester.
4.) A course noting "Supports Additional Course Selection" counts as an "Additional Course Selection." A total of 23 credits must be taken in this area. Possible course substitutions are listed below in the Additional Course Selection List.  Please note that three credits of PHYS 494 and/or PHYS 495 are prescribed. Any additional credits in PHYS 494 or PHYS 495 (up to a maximum of 3 credits) may be applied to the additional course requirement.
5.) Supporting Courses - students must select (3) credits from the following: CMPSC 459 Scientific VisualizationCMPSC 456 Introduction to Numerical Analysis IICMPSC 474 Operating System & Systems Programming. CMPSC 456 is recommended.
6.) Students must select (3) credits from the Supporting Course List below. MATH 456 or CMPSC 456 is recommended.

Advising Notes

Additional Course Selection List*
EE 352 Signals and Systems: Continuous and Discrete-Time
EE 453 Fundamentals of Digital Signal Processing
ME 410 Heat Transfer
ME 428 Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics
PHYS 410 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I
PHYS 414 Solid State Physics

Supporting Course List
ASTRO 291 or higher
BIOL 110 or higher
CHEM 210 or higher
CMPSC 200 or higher
MATH 300 or 400 level*
STAT 300 or 400 level*

Unacceptable Courses for the Physics Major or Minor
Math courses below MATH 140
Physics courses below PHYS 211
PHYS 250
PHYS 251

Career Paths

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts physics careers will have higher than average job growth in the next decade. Undergraduate research and internships offer Behrend physics students opportunities to integrate academic study with professional experience. To tailor your degree to your career interests, you’ll study one of two options, General Physics and Computational Physics. Penn State Behrend has a comprehensive support system to help you identify and achieve your goals for college and beyond. Meet with your academic adviser often and take advantage of the services offered by the Academic and Career Planning Center beginning in your first semester.

Careers

Physics is a discipline without limits. Penn State Behrend B.S. in Physics graduates are working in careers as diverse as laser-light design for major concert and theatre productions to radiation damage research at Los Alamos National Laboratories to component design engineering at Rolls-Royce.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF THE PHYSICS PROGRAM

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Physics is a common foundational major for graduate study. Penn State Behrend Physics graduates have pursued advanced degrees in physics, astronomy, materials science, materials engineering, bioengineering, electrical engineering, and secondary education.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDIES

Professional Resources

Contact

Erie

SCHOOL OF SCIENCE
1 Prischak
4205 College Drive
Erie, PA 16563
814-898-6105
behrend-science@psu.edu

http://behrend.psu.edu/school-of-science