Introductory courses consist of large lectures given by a faculty member and smaller recitation sections that are taught by graduate teaching assistants. The lectures introduce the material and the recitations focus on applications and problem-solving. The lectures use many demonstrations to show physics principles in live action. Almost all the introductory lectures use personal response systems, where students use clickers to respond to the instructors’ questions. The homework assignments for the introductory courses are typically submitted online. We also offer purely online introductory courses during winter session.
The introductory lab courses explore basic topics such as forces, kinematics, friction, electrostatics and electric circuits. These experiments are designed to illustrate and expand upon topics taught in the introductory lecture courses.
Our upper division courses are smaller, with around 25-35 students. We offer two upper division lab courses. In the Modern Physics Laboratory (PHY 307), students work on experiments that established modern physics in the early 20th century. In the Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHY 407 and PHY 408), students choose to work on three experiments that were developed by our faculty and use research-grade equipment.
Many of our majors, and even non-majors, complete independent study projects (PHY 498 and PHY 499) with our faculty. Our majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis (PHY 497), which allows them to graduate with honors.
Work settings include:
People with degrees in physics typically pursue careers in teaching or research, or some combination of the two. Teaching can be at the high school, community college, college, or university level. University teachers generally also engage in research. People who pursue a non-teaching research career generally work in industries such as the computer chip industry, or work in government labs such as Argonne or Brookhaven.
Approximately 75% of our students go on to graduate school, mostly in physics, but a significant number go into other areas such as law, business, medicine, biophysics, and medical physics. Our students regularly get into outstanding graduate schools such as Princeton, Cornell, University of Chicago, MIT, and UB.