Physics
Undergraduate Programs
Description
Physics is a science concerned with understanding the fundamental laws of nature. It explains physical phenomena in everyday life, such as motion, heat, electricity, magnetism and light. It studies the origin of the universe, the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles, and everything in between. Physics is the foundation of all fields of science and engineering.
The physics curriculum consists of sequences of interrelated courses that must be taken in the appropriate order. Mathematics is an important tool for physics. The courses taken by physics majors cover a variety of topics in classical and modern physics, and require significant preparations in mathematics. Well prepared students should complete the physics major in four years. The physics B.S. program prepares students for:
 Further study in physics, engineering, or other fields for advanced degrees,
 Entry into work in the public or private sectors,
 Teaching physics in high schools if the B.S. in physics teaching degrees is earned.
Training in physics gives students strong abilities in critical thinking and problem solving, the two skills that are essential in any occupations.
Majors 
Program  Locations  Major / Total Credits 

Physics BS  BS  Bachelor of Science 

70 / 120 
Minors 
Program  Locations  Total Credits 

Physics Minor 

26 
Policies & Faculty
Policies
Admission to the major is granted by the department. To be admitted to the major, a student must have a minimum of 30 earned credit hours and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 (“C”). Contact the College of Science, Engineering and Technology Advising Center for application procedures.
GPA policy. A minimum GPA of 2.0 in physics courses is required for graduation.
P/N grading policy. All physics courses except PHYS 105 and PHYS 480 are open to P/N grading. However, a student majoring or minoring in physics must elect the grade option for all of the required courses except where P/N grading is mandatory.
Residency: A minimum of 25 percent of the required credits in physics must be taken at Minnesota State University, Mankato for both the major and the minor. Testing for credit by examination is available on a casebycase basis as determined by the chairperson of the Physics and Astronomy department.
BS degree, double major. Students majoring in physics often find a second major in mathematics to be an attractive option. If the BS degree in physics is combined with a BS degree in mathematics, then the following math courses are recommended: MATH 345, MATH 422, MATH 425, and MATH 447.
Contact Information
141 Trafton North
Main Office (507) 3895743http://cset.mnsu.edu/pa/
Faculty
Chair
 Thomas Brown, PhD
Faculty
100 Level
Credits: 3
A one semester course which covers the basic principles of physics on a conceptual level and with a minimal amount of math. The course provides an understanding of natural processes and their applications. Topics generally include mechanics, simple machines, atomic structure, heat, light and sound. Lecture and laboratory components.Prerequisites: none
Goal Areas: GE03
Credits: 3
Selfpaced format. Includes readings on time; telling time from sundials to atomic clocks; Albert Einstein (a biography of the primary developer of the Theory of Relativity); and the Theory of Relativity. All the readings are written to be understood by nonscientists.Prerequisites: none
Goal Areas: GE03
Credits: 1
This course is intended for students pursuing a Physics degree. The course offers an introduction to the field of physics, and prepares students for academic success in the program. Students will become familiar with current topics of physics research within the department, and better understand the career paths available with a physics major.Prerequisites: none
200 Level
Credits: 4
General background in physical concepts for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Topics include mechanics, fluids, heat and thermodynamics. Lecture and laboratory.Prerequisites: Either MATH 112 and MATH 113, or MATH 115
Goal Areas: GE02, GE03
Credits: 4
Includes waves and sound, electricity and magnetism, light and optics, and topics in modern physics. Lecture and laboratory.Prerequisites: PHYS 211
Credits: 2
PHYS 220 focuses on mathematical methods for introductory physics and problem solving skills framed in Newton's Laws at the introductory level. Specific topics include Vector Algebra and Trigonometry, Forces and Newtons Laws, and applications of Calculus to kinematics.The goal of the course is to provide students with supplemental preparation for a CalculusBased Introductory Physics Course. Registration will require special permission.Prerequisites: none
Goal Areas: GE02, GE03
Credits: 4
Designed for science and engineering students. Calculusbased physics. Covers elementary mechanics including kinematics, statics, equilibrium and dynamics of particles, work and energy, rotational motion, gravitation, and oscillation. Lecture and Laboratory. MATH 121 must be completed with a C or better prior to taking this course or must be taken concurrently. High school physics or PHYS 101 is also strongly encouraged. Fall, SpringPrerequisites: none
Goal Areas: GE02, GE03
Credits: 3
Designed for science and engineering students. Calculusbased physics. Covers electrical charge and field; magnetic field and its sources; current and resistance; simple DC and AC circuits; and electromagnetic induction. Lecture only. (Associated laboratory course is PHYS 232.) MATH 121 must be completed with a C or better prior to taking this course. MATH 122 must be completed before taking this course or taken concurrently. Fall, SpringPrerequisites: MATH 121 with a “C” or better; PHYS 221 with a “C” or better.
Credits: 3
Designed for science and engineering students. Calculusbased physics. Covers fluids, thermodynamics, mechanical and sound waves, geometrical optics, physical optics, and modern physics. Lecture only. (Associated laboratory course is PHYS 233.) Pre: MATH 121 with a Cor better; and PHYS 221 with a C or better. MATH 122 must be completed before taking this course or taken concurrently. SpringPrerequisites: MATH 121 with a “C” or better; and PHYS 221 with a “C” or better
Credits: 1
Designed for science and engineering students. Laboratory course accompanying PHYS 222. Experiments involving electric and magnetic fields, electric potential, electric and magnetic forces, and simple circuits. Laboratory only. Prereq: PHYS 221 with a C or better; and PHYS 222 or concurrent. Fall, SpringPrerequisites: PHYS 221 with a “C” or better; and PHYS 222 or concurrent.
Credits: 1
Designed for science and engineering students. Laboratory course accompanying PHYS 223. Experiments involving fluids, thermodynamics, mechanical waves, geometrical optics, and physical optics. Laboratory only. Prereq: PHYS 221 with a C or better; and PHYS 223 or concurrent. SpringPrerequisites: PHYS 221 with a “C” or better; and PHYS 223 or concurrent.
Credits: 3
For prospective teachers in elementary schools. Topics include weather, weather forecasting and record keeping, simple machines, electricity, chemistry, sound, light, and others. May not count as a physics elective. Not available for P/N grading.Prerequisites: none
300 Level
Credits: 3
Special Theory of Relativity. Quantum nature of waves and particles: photons, de Broglie wavelength of matter and wave packet description of particles, Bohr model of hydrogen. Schrodinger wave equation in onedimension: energy quantization, potential barriers, simple harmonic oscillator. Oneelectron atoms. Xray and optical excitation of multielectron atoms. Lecture and laboratory. Prereq: MATH 122; (PHYS 222 and concurrently with PHYS 223) or PHYS 212.Prerequisites: MATH 122; (PHYS 222 and concurrently with PHYS 223) or PHYS 212.
Credits: 3
Topics include the basics of molecular structure and spectra, classical and quantum statistical physics, solid state physics, nuclear physics,and particle physics. The lab component will teach the operation of various radiation detectors, and use them to study the interaction of radiation with matter.Prerequisites: PHYS 335
Credits: 13
Supervised experience as an instructional assistant. Must demonstrate ability in basic physics.Prerequisites: Consent
400 Level
Credits: 2
This course bridges the gap between introductory physics and its application to the life and biomedical sciences. Topics include fluid flow, membrane transport, nerve conduction, imaging methods including MRI, CT, and nuclear imaging, radiotherapy, and health physics.Prerequisites: MATH 121, PHYS 212 or PHYS 222
Credits: 4
Rectilinear motion of a particle, general motion of a particle in three dimensions, Newtonian mechanics including harmonic oscillations, forced oscillations, central forces and orbital motion, collisions, noninertial reference systems, dynamics of a system particles, rigid body motion, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, normal coordinates.Prerequisites: PHYS 222 or PHYS 223; and MATH 321 or consent.
Credits: 3
Electrostatic fields, magnetostatic fields, steady currents, electromagnetic induction. Review of vector algebra.Prerequisites: MATH 223 and MATH 321 and PHYS 222
Credits: 3
Electromagnetic waves, propagation and radiation of waves, electrodynamics and relativity.Prerequisites: PHYS 223 and PHYS 447
Credits: 3
Atoms in crystals, wave in crystals, thermal vibrations of the crystal lattice, free electron model, band theory of solids, semiconductors and PN junctions, magnetism, and superconductivity.Prerequisites: PHYS 335
Credits: 3
Geometric optics, wave optics, properties of light and matter, optics of transformations, and quantum optics. Lecture and laboratory.Prerequisites: MATH 122 and PHYS 223
Credits: 4
A systematic development of foundations of quantum mechanics. Observables, operators, state functions, expectation values. Matrix formulation of eigenvalue problems. The hydrogen atom, electron spin, angular momentum, and perturbation theory.Prerequisites: PHYS 335, PHYS 441, MATH 247, MATH 321
Credits: 3
Numerical solutions of physics problems and computer simulations of physical systems. Lecture and laboratory. Prereq: Familiarity with some programming language and PHYS 212 or 222, and MATH 122, or consentPrerequisites: CIS 121, MATH 122. Select one PHYS 222 or PHYS 223
Credits: 3
Fundamental principles of statistical physics, including theory of probability, kinetic theory of transport process, entropy, classical and quantum statistical ensembles, Bose and Fermi systems. Applications to thermodynamics and magnetic properties of solids.Prerequisites: MATH 321 and PHYS 223
Credits: 2
Experiments in modern physics, including solidstate physics and optics. Requires more independent work than introductory laboratories.Prerequisites: PHYS 336 or consent
Credits: 3
Experiments in modern physics, including solidstate physics and optics. Requires more independent work than introductory laboratories.Prerequisites: PHYS 336 or consent
Credits: 4
Current methods of teaching all physical sciences with emphasis on physics and chemistry. For students planning to teach at a middle school, secondary school, college, or a university. Prereq: One year of chemistry and one year of physicsPrerequisites: one year of chemistry and one year of physics, or consent
Credits: 1
Students will attend research seminars presented by faculty in the department, or speakers from other institutions. Students also make and critique presentations made by themselves and other students. May be repeated for credit. Prereq: Completed at least two upper division physics courses. SpringPrerequisites: Completed at least two upper division physics courses.
Credits: 16
.Prerequisites: Consent
Credits: 12
A course in an area of physics not regularly offered. Topic and credit assigned by department each time offered.Prerequisites: PHYS 335 and PHYS 336
Credits: 116
Provides a student with the opportunity to gain expertise and experience in a special field under the supervision of a qualified person. Prereq: Usually senior standingPrerequisites: Usually Sr. standing
Credits: 18
Special arrangements must be made with an appropriate faculty member of the department office. May be repeated for credit on each new topic.Prerequisites: Consent