The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a multitrack program of study which allows each student flexibility to choose a suitable set of courses that will prepare the student for their chosen career goal. With the assistance of physics faculty advisors each student will select a program of theoretical and experimental courses through which they will gain an understanding of the broad range of general principles which characterize the discipline of physics; and they will acquire the ability to apply theoretical and experimental techniques to solve a wide variety of problems.

 

Graduates will be prepared for highly technical post-baccalaureate employment in applied physics, engineering physics, and other scientific areas. Upon graduation students will also be prepared to enter programs of advanced study in physics, engineering, medicine, environmental science, and related disciplines. The department also offers courses which are cognate requirements in other disciplines and courses which satisfy general university requirements in the natural sciences. A brief description of the various degree paths is given below along with a sample schedule. A full description of our course offerings and degree requirements can be found in the Physics & Astronomy section of the JMU Catalogue.

 

The Fundamental Studies Option

The Fundamental Studies option is the traditional model for undergraduate physics which is still widely expected for acceptance to most graduate programs in physics in the United States. It provides a thorough exposure to the analytical and theoretical methods used in advanced physics. Students who pursue this path will develop strong mathematical skills to use in describing quantitatively the world around us. Not only will they be prepared for continued education in the sciences, but they will also have demonstrated many of the skills and traits valued in the job market today including quantitative and analytical reasoning, scientific communication, and a strong work ethic. Below is a sample schedule a student choosing the fundamental studies option might follow:

 

Fundamental Studies
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 MATH 238 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS 340 PHYS 391 PHYS 498R* MATH 248 Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS 350 PHYS 392 PHYS 460 PHYS 347a Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 347b Gen Ed Gen Ed B.S. Req.
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 347c Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.
*This requirement is also satisfied by ASTR 498R or PHYS/ASTR 398 or ISCI 450 or PHYS 494 or PHYS 499

 

  Physics Core - Required of All Majors
  Major Requirements - Required for this Track
  General Education Requirements
  Additional Requirements for B.S. Degree
  Electives

 

Applied Option

The student who is more interested in directly entering the job market may be more interested in the applied physics track. The Applied Physics option is geared toward the student who is interested in the practical application of the types of analytical thinking and problem solving that make physics unique. One options within applied physics is to focus on computational science. Computational techniques involve the modeling of extremely complex physical systems using computers. It is a vital skill in such fields as fluid mechanics, meteorology, and even finance. Computational science is not about programming but about finding the proper way to create a virtual model of the important parameters that govern the physical behavior of a system.

Another option within applied physics is to focus on materials science. The study of materials science is a pursuit to understand how the structure of the materials that things are made of influences their properties. Students in this program will discover how the world around us is made from the nanoscale up. They will also learn the advanced scientific characterization and fabrication techniques that are so important in this field.

The third option within applied physics is to focus on electronics and instrumentation. This allows students to better understand the ways in which equipment is used to measure and analyze the world around us. Below are sample schedules a student choosing the applied option might follow:

 

Computational Track
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 MATH 238 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS 340 PHYS 391 PHYS 265 or 266 MATH 248 Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS 360 PHYS 392 MATH 365 or 366 PHYS 347a Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 347b PHYS 498R* Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 8 PHYS Elec PHYS 492 PHYS 347c Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.

 

Materials Track
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 MATH 238 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS 340 PHYS 391 MATS 275 MATH 248 Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS 350 PHYS 392 MATS 381 PHYS 347a Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS Elec PHYS 491 PHYS 347b PHYS 498R* Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 347c Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.

 

Electronics & Instrumentation Track
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 MATH 238 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS 371 PHYS 372 PHYS 391 MATH 248 Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS 350 PHYS 392 PHYS 360 PHYS 347a Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 347b PHYS 498R* Gen Ed B.S. Req.
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 347c Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.
*This requirement is also satisfied by ASTR 498R or PHYS/ASTR 398 or ISCI 450 or PHYS 494 or PHYS 499

 

  Physics Core - Required of All Majors
  Major Requirements - Required for this Track
  General Education Requirements
  Additional Requirements for B.S. Degree
  Electives

 

Individual Option

The individual option plan is meant to provide the flexibility needed for students to pursue interdisciplinary or unique plans of study. It requires completion of the core requirements and 25 additional physics or related credits above PHYS 260 approved by the student's advisor and department head.. The plan of study should be coherent and challenging and motivated toward a particular goal of study, not simply a collection of desired courses. Examples of individual option plans in the past have included ones geared toward biophysics, geophysics, and secondary school education. Below is a sample schedule a student choosing the individual studies option might follow:

 

Individual Option
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 PHYS Elect Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS Elect PHYS Elect MATH 248 Gen Elect Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS Elect PHYS Elect Gen Elect Gen Elect Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS Elect PHYS Elect Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 8 PHYS Elect B.S. Req. B.S. Req. Gen Elect. Gen Elect.

 

  Physics Core - Required of All Majors
  Major Requirements - Required for this Track
  General Education Requirements
  Additional Requirements for B.S. Degree
  Electives

 

Combined Physics/Engineering Option

The combined engineering/physics degree program involves 3 years of work at James Madison University toward a B.S. in Physics. During this time, the student completes the core curriculum, all general education requirements, a course in differential equations, and 12 additional credits in physics as approved by their advisor and department head. The physics courses must be completed with a minimum B+ average. After the third year, the student has the right to apply for admission to the Graduate Program at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A total of 37 credit hours of physics or other physics-related courses taken at either school will be required for the JMU Bachelor of Science degree in physics. Below is a sample schedule a student choosing the combined physics/engineering option might follow:

 

Combined Physics/Engineering
Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 247 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 248 MATH 237 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 4 PHYS 270 MATH 238 Gen Ed Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 5 PHYS Elect PHYS Elect MATH 248 Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 6 PHYS Elect PHYS Elect Gen Ed Gen Ed B.S. Req.

 

  Physics Core - Required of All Majors
  Major Requirements - Required for this Track
  General Education Requirements
  Additional Requirements for B.S. Degree
  Electives

 

Following the 6th semester (3rd year) the student moves to the University of Virginia to complete the next four semesters in the engineering program.

 

The Physics Minor

Minors in physics may come from any other discipline. To complete a minor, students must pass either PHYS 240 & 250 or PHYS 140 & 150 and the lab that goes with these courses. This lab could either be PHYS 140L and 150L or the PHYS 247 course taken typically by physics majors. The student must then pass PHYS 260 and 10 credits of course work above PHYS 260 for a total of 22 credits.

If you are interested in a physics minor, it is important to talk to the department head as early as possible so that you will be included in any communications about special topics courses or other offerings that may be of interest.

 

The Astronomy Minor

To complete a minor in astronomy, students must complete the following courses:

 

 

The Materials Science Minor

The minor in materials science includes four major components:

 

 

Courses for the minor are offered through the departments of chemistry, geology and environmental studies, integrated science and technology, mathematics, and physics.

 

Choose one of the following (3 credits):

 

 

Choose one of the following (3 credits):

 

 

Choose Materials Science Electives (9 credits).

 

Complete Materials Research or Additonal Materials Science Labratory Course (3 credits).

 

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