Physics and Astronomy  {SF State Bulletin 2013 - 2014}

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Physics and Astronomy

College of Science and Engineering

Dean: Sheldon Axler

 

Department of Physics and Astronomy

TH 334
Phone: 415-338-1659
Fax: 415-338-2178
E-mail: physics@sfsu.edu

Chair: Susan M. Lea
Graduate Coordinator: Maarten Golterman

 

Faculty

Professors: Chen, Cool, Golterman, Greensite, Lea, Marzke, Neuhauser
Associate Professor: Barranco
Assistant Professors: Mahdavi, Man, Unsal
Adjunct Professors: Adler, Barsony, Lipschultz, Fischer, Marcy, McCarthy
Lecturers: Bland, Caudy, Fielder, Stanford

 

Programs

B.A. in Physics

B.A. in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy

B.S. in Physics

B.S. in Physics: Concentration in Astrophysics

B.S. in Physics: Concentration in Physics for Teaching

Minor in Astronomy

Minor in Physics

M.S. in Physics

M.S. in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy

 


 

Program Scope

The Physics and Astronomy Department offers strong undergraduate and graduate programs in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics which are designed to prepare students for a variety of careers in science, technology, and teaching, as well as for graduate study. The goal is to educate versatile physicists and astronomers who combine a solid knowledge of theory with real-world skills in problem solving, data acquisition and analysis, and computer-based simulation and analysis. The department specializes in the "hands-on" approach so important in the 21st century. Students at all levels are encouraged to work on a research project under the direction of a faculty supervisor. The projects may involve experimental laboratory work, astronomical observations and data analysis, or theoretical modeling using analytical and computational approaches.

 

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics is suited for students whose career goals involve secondary-school teaching, or the combination of physics with other fields such as engineering, business, or humanities. This program also provides excellent preparation for technical writers, technical salespeople, and laboratory technicians and research assistants. Students interested in high-school or middle-school teaching can take advantage of the department’s single subject matter program in physics. By completing the B.A. together with an approved sequence of courses in consultation with an advisor, students can demonstrate their preparedness to enter a credential program to complete their training as a physics teacher. The program stresses education in physics fundamentals with some additional advanced courses, laboratory, and computer work. It can be combined with a minor in business, engineering, art, or humanities to prepare students for careers that cross disciplinary lines. Future teachers can combine it with a mathematics minor to prepare themselves to teach math as well as physics.

 

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics with a Concentration in Astronomy is similar to the B.A. in Physics, but with upper division work concentrated in astronomy. This program also provides excellent preparation for middle school or high school teachers and technical writers, as well as observatory or planetarium staff.

 

The Bachelor of Science in Physics is designed to educate students who plan to pursue further education in physics or related fields (M.S. or Ph.D. programs), or who plan to seek employment as physicists, scientific associates, or technical staff members in industry, national laboratories, or academic laboratories. This program combines the education in physics fundamentals of the B.A. program with additional advanced courses, laboratory, and computer work, and more specialized work in a specialty such as solid state physics, optical physics, or computational physics. Students in this program are strongly encouraged to gain research experience. Graduates should have the fundamental mathematical, scientific, and learning skills to enable them to be lifelong learners who can rapidly master new scientific and technical developments.

 

The Bachelor of Science in Physics with a Concentration in Astrophysics is similar to the B.S. in Physics program, but with significant upper division work in astronomy, as appropriate for students planning employment or graduate study in the area of astrophysics. A senior project with thesis is required.

 

The Bachelor of Science in Physics with a Concentration in Physics for Teaching is designed for students interested in high-school or middle-school teaching. This program stresses education in physics fundamentals together with laboratory work and direct classroom teaching experience. Elective units enable students to gain breadth of knowledge in one or more additional subjects important for high-school teachers, e.g., mathematics, general science, or chemistry. Students may also elect to take advantage of the department's single subject matter program in physics to demonstrate their preparedness to enter a credential program to complete their training as teachers.

 

A satisfactory score on an exit examination is required for all Bachelor's degrees.

 

A Minor in Physics and a Minor in Astronomy are available for students desiring a coherent program in physics or astronomy but one not as extensive as the B.A. It provides an excellent background for prospective secondary school teachers who wish to teach in physics or astronomy as well as in their major area, or for engineers who want additional depth in areas such as solid state physics or optical physics.

 

The goal of the Master of Science in Physics is to provide a solid, in-depth background in theoretical and experimental physics, appropriate for students pursuing further education in the field via Ph.D. programs in physics, astronomy, or certain engineering fields, or for those seeking employment as physicists/astronomers in physics/astronomy-related jobs and professions; e.g., as technical associates, laboratory physicists, physics or astronomy data analyzers, engineers, or in education as instructors in community colleges. This program combines advanced education in core physics topics with additional advanced courses, laboratory and computer work, and more concentrated work in a specialty such as solid state physics, quantum optics, astrophysics, or computational physics. Students in this program are strongly encouraged to gain research experience.

 

The Master of Science in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy offers a program that is more closely tailored to students interested in careers in astronomy teaching and outreach, or employment in astronomical observatories and laboratories. It is also suitable for those seeking entry into Ph.D. programs in astronomy.

 

Undergraduate Programs in Physics and Astronomy

High school preparation for these programs should include two years of algebra, one year of geometry, one-half year of trigonometry, one year of chemistry, and one year of physics. Some experience in computer programming is valuable. All students, especially those who have not completed a substantial chemistry course in high school, are strongly urged to take CHEM 115 and 215-216 in their first year of college.

 

It is suggested that students in these programs consult with their advisor before selecting courses to meet General Education requirements. Unnecessary repetition of elementary topics might be avoided by careful selection of courses. A plan of study prepared in consultation with a department advisor is prerequisite to entry into upper division study. Students who are considering teaching physics at the secondary school level should see a credential advisor in the department before planning the major since specific courses and a competency assessment are required for admission to the credential program.

 

  • A maximum of 6 units taken CR/NC may be counted toward any undergraduate degree.
  • All prerequisites for upper division courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better, unless expressly stated otherwise. See course descriptions for prerequisite requirements.

 

Bachelor of Arts in Physics

 

Lower/Upper Division Prerequisites

Course Title Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 units each) 12
MATH 245
   or
MATH 376
Elementary Differential Equations & Linear Algebra
 
Ordinary Differential Equations I
3
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory 4

Total lower/upper division prerequisites: 27 units

 

Upper Division Requirements

Course Title Units
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory I 2
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics 3
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics 3
PHYS 490
    and
PHYS 491 GW
Physics Project Laboratory 1 (2)
 
Advanced Laboratory II - GWAR (1)
3
PHYS 695 Culminating Experience in Physics 1

Upper division electives (4 units) On advisement (PHYS 460 or PHYS 325 recommended)

Total upper division requirements: 25 units

Total units for the Bachelor of Arts in Physics: 52 units

 

Note: A minimum of 40 upper division units must be completed for the degree (including upper division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper division units required for graduation. In this case additional upper division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

 

Bachelor of Arts in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy

Lower Division Prerequisites

Course Title Units
ASTR 115 Introduction to Astronomy 3
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 units each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory 4

Total lower division prerequisites: 27 units

 

Upper Division Requirements

Course Title Units
ASTR 300 Stars, Planets, and the Milky Way 3
ASTR 301 Observational Astronomy Laboratory 2
ASTR 340 GW The Big Bang - GWAR 3
ASTR 470 Observational Techniques in Astronomy 3
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory 2
PHYS 695 Culminating Experience in Physics 1

Upper division electives: (8 units)
At least 8 units of upper division astronomy, physics, geosciences, mathematics or related subjects, selected on advisement. No more than 3 units of 600 level courses may count toward this requirement.

Total upper division requirements: 25 units

Total for Bachelor of Arts in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy: 52 units

 

Note: A minimum of 40 upper division units must be completed for the degree (including upper division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper division units required for graduation. In this case additional upper division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

 

Bachelor of Science in Physics

Lower Division Prerequisites

Course Title Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 units each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory 4

One of the following: 3 units

Course Title Units
MATH 245 Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra  
MATH 376 Ordinary Differential Equations  

Total lower division prerequisites: 27 units

 

Upper Division Requirements

Course Title Units
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory I 2
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics 3
PHYS 430 Quantum Mechanics I 3
PHYS 457 Principles of Electronics 4
PHYS 460 Electricity and Magnetism II 3
PHYS 490 Physics Project Laboratory 2
PHYS 491 GW Advanced Laboratory II - GWAR 1
PHYS 695 Culminating Experience in Physics 1
CSC 309 Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers 2 3

Upper division electives: 10 units
Astronomy, physics, mathematics, or related sciences.

Total upper division requirements: 44 units

Total for Bachelor of Science in Physics: 71units

 

Bachelor of Science in Physics: Concentration in Astrophysics

 

Prerequisites

Course Title Units
MATH 226 -
MATH 228
Calculus I - III (4 units each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory 4

One of the following:

Course Title Units
MATH 245 Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra 3
MATH 376 Ordinary Differential Equations 3

Total Prerequisites: 27

Upper Division Requirements

Course Title Units
ASTR 300 Stars, Planets, and the Milky Way 3
ASTR 301 Observational Astronomy Laboratory 2
ASTR 340 GW The Big Bang - GWAR 3
ASTR 400 Stellar Astrophysics 3
ASTR 470 Observational Techniques in Astronomy 3
CSC 309 Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers 3
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics 3
PHYS 430 Quantum Mechanics 3

One of the following: 3 units

Course Title
ASTR 498
  and
PHYS 695
Astronomy Research Literature (2 units)
 
Culminating Experience in Physics (1 unit)
ASTR 697 Senior Project

Electives: (6 units)
Chosen from upper division courses in Physics or Astronomy, with consent of advisor. Three of the 6 units must be in a course(s) numbered 400-499. Up to 1 unit of a 600-level course in ASTR may count toward this requirement.

Total upper division requirements: 44 units

Total for Bachelor of Science in Physics: Concentration in Astrophysics: 71 units

 

Bachelor of Science in Physics: Concentration in Physics for Teaching

 

Lower/Upper Division Prerequisites

Course Title Units
MATH 226 -
MATH 228
Calculus I - III (4 units each) 12
MATH 245
 
  or
MATH 376
Elementary Differential Equations
and Linear Algebra

 
Ordinary Differential Equations I
3
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory 4

Total Lower/Upper Division Prerequisites: 27

Upper Division Requirements

4
Course Title Units
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory I 2
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics 3
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics 3
PHYS 490
  and
PHYS 491 GW
Physics Project Laboratory (2)
 
Advanced Laboratory II - GWAR (1)
3
SCI 652 SFSU Science Partners K - 12 Schools 4
PHYS 695 Culminating Experience in Physics 1

Electives: (12 units)
Selected in consultation with a departmental advisor to prepare to teach a second subject in addition to physics, or general science at 9th grade level.
Electives may be lower-division or upper-division courses.

Total upper division requirements: 37 units

Total for the Bachelor of Science in Physics: Concentration in Physics for Teaching: 64 units

 

Minor in Physics

Program

Course Title Units
PHYS 111/112
  and
PHYS 121/122
    or
PHYS 220/222
  and
PHYS 230/232
  and
PHYS 240/242
General Physics I/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics II/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory (3/1)
12

Upper Division Electives (12 units)
On advisement (PHYS 320, 325, 370, 385 recommended)

Total for Minor in Physics: 24 units

 

Minor in Astronomy

Program

Course Title Units
PHYS 111/112
  and
PHYS 121/122
    or
PHYS 220/222
  and
PHYS 230/232
  and
PHYS 240/242
General Physics I/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics II/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus II/Laboratory (3/1)
 
General Physics with Calculus III/Laboratory (3/1)
8 - 12
ASTR 115 Introduction to Astronomy 3
ASTR 300 Stars, Planets, and the Milky Way 3
ASTR 301 Observational Astronomy Laboratory 2

Upper Division Electives (3 units) On advisement.

Total for Minor in Astronomy: 19 - 23 units

 

Master of Science in Physics

Students wishing to be admitted to the Master of Science in physics program should have completed an undergraduate major in physics, with a minimum 3.0 grade point average in physics and mathematics courses, and minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units. Students whose undergraduate degree is in another field may be admitted to conditionally classified status, but additional undergraduate-level course work will be required to make up the deficiency. Contact the graduate coordinator for further details.

 

Group I: Core Courses

Course Title Units
PHYS 701 Classical Mechanics 3
PHYS 704 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 706 Quantum Mechanics 3
PHYS 775 Statistical Physics 3
PHYS 785 Theoretical Physics 3

 

Group II: Graduate Physics Electives - 6 units

Elective graduate physics or astronomy courses with numbers in the range from PHYS 700 - 790 and ASTR 700 - 790 only, (note that PHYS 800 - 899 do not count in this category).

 

Group III: General Electives - 9 units

Elective advanced upper division (numbered 400 or above) or graduate courses in physics, astronomy, or appropriately related subjects, selected on advisement and with approval of graduate coordinator (note that PHYS 800 - 899 count in this category).

 

Group IV: Thesis and/or Oral Examination

Course Title
PHYS 898 Master's Thesis
  and
Oral Defense of Thesis (units to be included in Group III)
or
Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination

Minimum total for Master of Science in Physics: 30 units

 

Note: Degree total to include no more than 6 units of PHYS 800 - 899, nor more than 4 units of PHYS 730.

 

Master of Science in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy

The Master of Science in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy is similar to the M.S. in Physics program, but with a selection of core courses that is better suited to those planning to pursue careers in astronomy teaching and outreach, or in astronomical observatories and laboratories. It is also suitable for those seeking entry into Ph.D. programs in astronomy.

 

Group I: Core Courses

Course Title Units
ASTR 722 Radiative Processes and Gas Dynamics in Astrophysics 3
ASTR 742 Galaxies and Cosmology 3
ASTR 770 Observational Techniques in Astronomy 3
PHYS 701 Classical Mechanics 3

 

Group II: Graduate Physics and Astronomy Electives - 9 units

Elective graduate physics or astronomy courses with numbers in the range of PHYS 700 - 790 and ASTR 700 - 798 (note: PHYS 800 - 899 do not count in this category). PHYS 712, 725, 740, 775, 785, and ASTR 700, 798 are recommended.

 

Group III: General Electives - 9 units

Elective advanced upper division (numbered 400 or above) or graduate courses in physics, astronomy, or appropriately related subjects, selected on advisement and with approval of graduate coordinator (note that PHYS 800 - 899 count in this category).

 

Group IV: Thesis and/or Oral Examination (units to be included in Group III)

Course Title
PHYS 898 Master's Thesis
  and
Oral Defense of Thesis
or
Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination

Total: 30 units

 

Note: Degree total must include at least 15 units from courses numbered 700 - 899, but no more than 6 units of PHYS 800 - 899 together, nor more than 4 units of PHYS 730.

 

Progress toward Degree. Classified or conditionally classified graduate students who do not successfully complete two courses per year toward their Advancement to Candidacy are subject to disqualification.

 

Graduate students are expected to attend colloquia and must attend at least five per semester unless excused by the graduate coordinator.

 

Written English Proficiency Requirement.

Level One: (preadmission) is satisfied by obtaining a score of 4.5 or above in the analytical writing portion of the GRE. Applicants who do not receive a minimum score of 4.5 on the GRE may be admitted conditionally and must complete SCI 614, SCI 560, or PHYS 340 GW with a grade of B or better during the first year. Level Two is satisfied by submitting a thesis which your thesis committee agrees meets the level two standard, or by submitting a paper of at least ten pages which the graduate coordinator agrees meets the level two standard.

 

Examinations: The oral defense of thesis is delivered to the student's advisory committee and includes responses to questions from the committee on subjects related to the thesis topic. The master's comprehensive oral examination is delivered to the student's advisory committee and covers all areas of theoretical and experimental physics deemed appropriate by the committee. The oral defense of thesis or master's comprehensive oral examination may be repeated once, under conditions specified by the committee, upon petition by the student.

 

Prior to taking graduate courses numbered 700-799, M.S. students must pass a written examination on undergraduate-level physics. Those intending to concentrate in astronomy may also be separately tested on appropriate undergraduate-level material prior to taking astronomy courses numbered 700 - 799; testing will occur at the discretion of the graduate coordinator. The requirement may be satisfied by achieving a satisfactory score on the Physics Major Field Test or on the physics GRE. While new graduate students may take graduate courses during their first semester with the department (in consultation with the graduate coordinator), they must pass this test before taking graduate courses in subsequent semesters. If a student fails to pass the test, he or she will be advised to take appropriate undergraduate courses in order to remedy those gaps that prevented him or her from passing the test. Tests taken more than six months prior to enrollment as a graduate student in the department do not fulfill this requirement.

 


 

footnotes

  1. PHYS 490 and 491 satisfy the GWAR requirement when taken in sequence in Fall 2010 or later.
  2. Additional upper division elective units in astronomy, mathematics, or physics may be substituted for CSC 309 by students proficient in computer programming, subject to approval by the department chair.

 

 

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