Fundamental Studies

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 Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 344 Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 345 Gen Ed Gen Ed B.S. Req.
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 346 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 Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 344 Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 345 PHYS 498R* Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 8 PHYS Elec PHYS 492 PHYS 346 Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.

Materials Track Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 344 Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS Elec PHYS 491 PHYS 345 PHYS 498R* Gen Ed Gen Ed
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 346 Gen Elect. Gen Elect. B.S. Req.

Electronics & Instrumentation Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 344 Gen Ed
Semester 7 PHYS 380 PHYS 491 PHYS 345 PHYS 498R* Gen Ed B.S. Req.
Semester 8 PHYS 360 PHYS 492 PHYS 346 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 Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 Example Program

Semester 1 PHYS 240 MATH 235 PHYS 105 CHEM 131 CHEM 131L Gen Ed
Semester 2 PHYS 250 MATH 236 PHYS 246 CHEM 132 CHEM 132L Gen Ed
Semester 3 PHYS 260 PHYS 247 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 246 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 initial introductory physics classes PHYS 240 & 250 or PHYS 140 & 150
  • The labs that accompany the introductory physics classes, either PHYS 140L and 150L or PHYS 246.
  • The main astronomy sequence including PHYS 220 (General Astronomy I), PHYS 221 (General Astronomy II), and PHYS 320 (Astronomical Techniques).
  • One astronomy elective chosen from PHYS 480 (Astrophysics), GEOL 272 (Planetary Geology), HON 300Z (Life Beyond Earth), or 3 credits of research or projects as PHYS 297, 397, or 497.

The Materials Science Minor

The minor in materials science includes four major components:

  • A choice of an entry-level introductory course in materials science.
  • A lecture or laboratory course that emphasizes more specialized areas in materials science.
  • Materials science electives that can include all specialized courses.
  • Research or an additional materials science lecture or laboratory experience.

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):

  • MATS/ISAT 430. Materials Science in Manufacturing
  • MATS/CHEM/PHYS 275. An Introduction to Materials Science
  • MATS/GEOL 395. Geologic Perspectives in Materials Science

Choose one of the following (3 credits):

  • MATS/ISAT 436. Micro-Nanofabrication and Applications
  • ISAT/MATS 432. Selection and Use of Engineering Materials and Manufacturing Processes
  • MATS/PHYS 381. Materials Characterization

Choose Materials Science Electives (9 credits).

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