There are two baccalaureate degrees given in Physics:
- Bachelor of Science (Sc.B.)
- Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)
The completion of a physics concentration allows a student to develop
(1) a deep capacity for critical quantitative reasoning
(2) an understanding of key laws of physics and how to apply them in various settings
(3) an appreciation for the complementary roles that experiment and theory play in the intellectual development of the field
(4) the ability to formulate a scientific question or problem
(5) the ability to communicate effectively
The ScB concentration tracks, which require a senior thesis, place greater emphasis on outcomes 4 and 5 than the standard AB concentration tracks. AB concentrators can also choose to do a thesis.
Overall, the two degrees reflect a difference of intensity and range of physics study. Sc.B. Candidates have a larger number of recommended physics courses and may take more of their non-physics electives in closely related fields such as mathematics, applied mathematics, chemistry, etc. A.B. concentrators may take the same advanced physics courses as Sc.B. students but fewer in number while also exploring a larger and perhaps wider range of electives.
Course enrollments in the department range from 12 to 20 students, beyond the first two years. Reading courses and independent study are available in various areas. Graduate courses are open to those who have established adequate preparation.
Within the Sc.B. degree, students may opt to obtain the regular Physics Sc.B, or to specialize in one of three tracks (see here for degree requirements):
- Mathematical Physics—this track is intended for students interested in theoretical physics and the interface between physics and mathematics. Students in this track will take a larger number of their courses in the mathematics or applied mathematics department. This track is also available to A.B. candidates.
- Biological Physics—this track is intended for students who are interested in the physics of biological systems. Students would take the specialized courses in biophysics offered by the department, as well as additional biology and chemistry courses.
- Astrophysics—this track is intended for students with an interest in the physics of the cosmos. Students in this track would take more courses in astrophysics or planetary geology.
Other degree options:
In addition to the standard four-year Sc.B. and A.B. degree programs in physics, the department also offers
- a five-year combined Sc.B.-A.B. program, in which a standard or independent study concentration is completed in the humanities or social studies concurrently with the physics Sc.B., and
- a four-year Master's degree program
- an A.B. Degree in Astronomy, for students interested in astronomy who do not wish to complete the requirements for an Sc.B
REQUIREMENTS:
Writing Requirement: WRIT requirement can be satisfied by completing Physics 1560 and/or 0560 courses, provided a student earns a B or higher.
Course Requirements for Physics A.B. degree:
Physics 0070,0160 (or 0050,0060 or 0030,0040), Introduction to Physics
Physics 0470, Electricity and Magnetism
Physics 0500, Advanced Classical Mechanics
Physics 0560, Sophomore Laboratory
Physics 1410, Quantum Mechanics A
Physics 1530, Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
- Also, one additional 1000 level course in physics, or one mathematics course beyond Math 0170 or 0190 is required.
Course Requirements for Physics Sc.B. degree:
Physics 0070,0160 (or 0050,0060 or 0030,0040), Introduction to Physics
Physics 0470, Electricity and Magnetism
Physics 0500, Advanced Classical Mechanics
Physics 0560, Sophomore Laboratory
Physics 1410, Quantum Mechanics A
Physics 1420, Quantum Mechanics B
Physics 1510, Advanced Electromagnetic Theory
Physics 1530, Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
Physics 1560, Modern Physics Laboratory
Physics 1990, Senior Conference (Research and preparation of a thesis)
- Four courses beyond Math 0170/0190 or 0090, 0100, including choices from Applied Mathematics and Physics 720.
- One additional 1000 or 2000 level Physics course or upper level course in related fields of science chosen by the student with agreement of his or her advisor.
- In addition, at least one course in computer programming is recommended.
Also, a senior thesis is required.
- This is to be prepared in connection with Physics 1990 (or equivalent course in mathematics, engineering or chemistry) under the direction of a faculty supervisor.