Physics and Astronomy

College of Science and Engineering
Dean: James C. Kelley

Department of Physics and Astronomy
TH 334
415-338-1659
Fax: 415-338-2178
E-mail: physics@stars.sfsu.edu
Chair: Robert N. Rogers

Graduate Coordinator: Susan M. Lea

Faculty

University Distinguished Professor of Science—Geoffrey Marcy

Professors—Bland, Burke, Fisher, Greensite, Johns, Lea, Lockhart, Marcy, Neuhauser, Peters, Rogers, Shapiro

Assistant Professors—Chen, Cool

Adjunct Professors—Adler, Doherty, Eden, Knox, Lipschultz

Programs

B.A. in Physics
B.A. in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy
B.S. in Physics
B.S. in Physics: Concentration in Astrophysics
Minor in Astronomy
Minor in Physics
M.S. in Physics


Program Scope

The Physics and Astronomy Department offers traditional programs that lead to the B.A. or B.S. in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics. In addition, the department specializes in the "hands-on" approach to learning, so important in the 1990's and into the 21st century. The days when employers, graduate schools, technical programs, etc. were satisfied to look over the grades on an applicant's transcript are over and probably have been for quite awhile. Nowadays, the world looks for proof of eligibility and the A in this and A– in that no longer suffice; accordingly, the Physics and Astronomy Department encourages all students at all levels to work on a research project under the direction of a faculty supervisor—the so-called "hands-on" experience. These projects involve experimental laboratory work (naturally) as well as theoretical pursuits and, while most of the participants, are juniors, seniors, and graduates, younger students (even freshmen) are urged to join in as soon as possible.

At the graduate level the "hands-on" experience, which then leads in a natural way to the master's thesis, is strongly encouraged and is a requirement in some specialty areas.

The Master of Science in Physics serves students who seek advanced knowledge in physics: for application in physics-related industries, for preparation to continue graduate work elsewhere towards the doctoral degree, for qualification for teaching credentials for which a master's degree is required. The choice of electives in the master's program may emphasize either physics, astrophysics, or astronomy. Before beginning course work toward the M.S., the candidate must prepare a plan of study in consultation with the graduate coordinator.

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN PHYSICS

Online course descriptions are available.

The programs in Physics presuppose a background equivalent to two years of high school algebra, one year of plane geometry, and one-half year of trigonometry. One year each of high school physics and chemistry are recommended, as is some experience in computer programming. All students, especially those who have not completed a substantial chemistry course in high school, are strongly urged to take CHEM 111 and 113/114 in their freshman year. At least six units of upper division work for this major must be completed at this university.

It is suggested that students in these programs consult with their adviser 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 adviser is prerequisite to entry into upper division study. Students who are considering teaching physics should see a credential adviser in the Physics and Astronomy Department before planning the major. Specific courses and a competency assessment are required for admission to the credential program.

Lower Division Prerequisites Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (or PHYS 221/222–Honors) 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (or PHYS 231/232–Honors) 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (or PHYS 241/242–Honors) 4
  Total lower division prerequisites 24
Upper Division Requirements
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory I 1
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity in Magnetism I 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics 3
PHYS 490 Physics Project Laboratory (1-3) 2
One of the following: 1 3
MATH 374 Advanced Calculus
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics
Upper division electives on advisement (PHYS 460 recommended) 10
  Total upper division requirements 28
  Total units for the major 52

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN PHYSICS: CONCENTRATION IN ASTRONOMY

Lower Division Prerequisites Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (or PHYS 221/222–Honors) 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (or PHYS 231/232–Honors) 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (or PHYS 241/242–Honors) 4
CSC 210 Introduction to Computer Programming 2 3
  Total lower division prerequisites 27
Upper Division Requirements
ASTR 320 The Solar System 3
ASTR 321 Observational Astronomy Laboratory 1
ASTR 330 Stars and Stellar Systems 3
ASTR 390 Observational Project Laboratory 1
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics I Laboratory 1
One of the following: 1 3
MATH 374 Advanced Calculus
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics
Upper division electives in astronomy 3
Upper division electives in astronomy, physics, mathematics, or related sciences 7
  Total upper division requirements 25
  Total for major 52

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN PHYSICS

Lower Division Prerequisites Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (or PHYS 221/222–Honors) 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (or PHYS 231/232–Honors) 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (or PHYS 241/242–Honors) 4
CSC 210 Introduction to Computer Programming 2 3
  Total lower division prerequisites 27
Upper Division Requirements
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Laboratory I 1
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 457 Principles of Electronics 4
PHYS 460 Electricity and Magnetism II 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 430 Quantum Mechanics I 3
One of the following: 3
MATH 245 Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
MATH 376 Ordinary Differential Equations
One of the following: 3
MATH 374 Advanced Calculus
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics
PHYS 490 Physics Project Laboratory (1-3) 3
Upper division electives in astronomy, physics, mathematics, or related sciences 12
  Total upper division requirements 44
  Total for major 71

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN PHYSICS: CONCENTRATION IN ASTROPHYSICS

Lower Division Prerequisites Units
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 each) 12
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (or PHYS 221/222–Honors) 4
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (or PHYS 231/232–Honors) 4
PHYS 240/242 General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (or PHYS 241/242–Honors) 4
CSC 210 Introduction to Computer Programming 2 3
  Total lower division prerequisites 27
Upper Division Requirements
ASTR 330 Stars and Stellar Systems 3
ASTR 390 Observational Projects Laboratory 1
ASTR 420 Introduction to Astrophysics 3
ASTR 697 Senior Project 3
One of the following: 3
MATH 245 Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
MATH 376 Ordinary Differential Equations
One of the following: 3
MATH 374 Advanced Calculus
PHYS 385 Introduction to Theoretical Physics
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3
PHYS 321 Modern Physics I Laboratory 1
PHYS 330 Analytical Mechanics I 3
PHYS 360 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PHYS 460 Electricity and Magnetism II 3
PHYS 370 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 430 Quantum Mechanics 3
PHYS 485 Theoretical Physics 3
Electives chosen from PHYS 325, 331, 431, 440, 475, 480, ASTR 390, 490, 699 6
  Total upper division requirements 44
  Total for major 71

MINOR IN PHYSICS

Program Units
PHYS 111 General Physics I (4) and 8-12
  PHYS 121   General Physics II (4) or
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (4) and
  PHYS 230/232   General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (4) and
  PHYS 240/242   General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (4)
Upper division electives on advisement 12
  Total for minor 20-24

MINOR IN ASTRONOMY

Program Units
PHYS 111 General Physics I (4) and 8-12
  PHYS 121   General Physics II (4) or
PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I and Laboratory (4) and
  PHYS 230/232   General Physics with Calculus II and Laboratory (4) and
  PHYS 240/242   General Physics with Calculus III and Laboratory (4)
ASTR 320 The Solar System 3
ASTR 330 Stars and Stellar Systems 3
Upper division electives on advisement 6
  Total 20-24

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN PHYSICS

Graduate Advisers: Johns, Marcy

Admission to Program

Applicants to the master's program must have a bachelor's degree in physics or a related subject, with a 3.0 grade point average in physics and mathematics courses, for admission to classified standing. Those with undergraduate degrees in other subjects, or requiring remedial work, should contact the graduate coordinator or department chair to discuss possible admission to conditional classified status.

Group I: Core Courses Units
PHYS 701 Classical Mechanics 3
PHYS 706 Quantum Mechanics 3
One of the following: 3
PHYS 703 Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 704 Electricity and Magnetism I
Group II: Graduate Physics Electives
Elective graduate physics courses with numbers in the range from PHYS 700 to 729 only (note that PHYS 730, 897, 898, and 899 do not count in this category) 9
Group III: General Electives
Elective advanced upper division or graduate courses in physics or appropriately related subjects, selected on advisement and with approval of graduate coordinator (note that PHYS 730, 897, 898, and 899 count in this category) 12
Group IV: Thesis and/or Oral Examination
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 30

NOTE: Degree total to include no more than six units of PHYS 897 and 899 together, nor more than four units of PHYS 730.

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, at the discretion of the committee, upon petition by the student.


Footnotes

  1. It is also recommended that students take MATH 245 or MATH 376.
  2. Three additional upper division electives in astronomy, mathematics, or physics may be substituted for CSC 210 by students proficient in computer programming subject to approval by the department chair.


SFSU Home   Search   Need Help?  

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111

Last modified July 03, 2012 by bulletin@sfsu.edu