Major in Physics

The Physics major is divided into three main tracks designed to give the student the greatest possible flexibility in preparation for graduate study in physics, astrophysics, medicine, engineering or other allied fields, and for professional practice as a physicist in industrial, governmental or institutional laboratories.

In order to provide students a broad and solid base in physics and also to provide the flexibility which enables students to take courses in areas where physics can be applied, all Physics majors take a series of basic physics courses. The first courses are General Physics I, II and III (PHYS 241 [or PHYS 251], PHYS 242 [or PHYS 252] and PHYS 243). They provide an introduction to both classical and modern physics. The junior and senior physics courses treat classical and modern physics in greater depth.

It is recommended that those who intend to pursue graduate studies in physics or astrophysics, take the General Physics Track or the Astrophysics Track, as well as additional physics electives and mathematics courses. Those who intend to participate in fundamental or applied research and development in industrial or government laboratories are encouraged to take the Applied Physics Track and other physics electives.

Students may also wish to elect a foreign language as preparation for graduate study. Students may also supplement the program of study by participation in a guided independent study and/or ongoing research project. Up to 6 units of such courses (Independent Study, Directed Readings, Research Problems, etc.) may count toward required physics electives. A combination of well-grounded preparation in fundamentals plus the availability of an individually tailored program of study is designed to optimize students’ preparation for graduate school or a professional career. In addition to physics courses, all majors are required to complete courses in mathematics and chemistry. Calculus III is highly recommended. Upper-level mathematics electives especially recommended are Differential Equations, Advanced Calculus and Numerical Analysis I, II.

Students who intend to major in Physics should contact the department in order to be assigned a faculty adviser. The faculty adviser will assist students in planning a program that will meet their special needs. Advisers are also available for advising on career opportunities and employment. Physics majors are required to complete 16, and minors 8, of the required upper-division units in physics at Towson. Students should be aware that most advanced physics courses (300- and 400-level) may be offered in either the first term or the second term, but not in both terms. Some physics electives are only offered every other year. Advisers will have information on the courses offered and on the schedules.

Most required upper-level physics courses are taught in the late afternoon or early evening on a rotating schedule. This should enable a non-traditional student who can only attend classes at these times to complete the major, although the time required will usually exceed the normal four years. Students should contact the department office or their advisers for information about the scheduling of these courses.

Students must see their advisers no later than the time of their matriculation for the third term in General Physics, which is normally the beginning of the spring term of their sophomore year. Students, after consultation with their advisers, will propose a tentative plan for completing all graduation requirements, including those for the major. This selection of electives for the various concentrations must be approved by an adviser. The plan may be modified from time to time, but the modification must be approved by the major adviser. Students may also organize an individualized course of studies. This gives students the option to select a plan that reflects their interest in a special area of physics. The array of courses must have internal coherence and be approved by the major adviser.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PHYSICS MAJOR

All Physics majors must take these required courses (34 units of Physics courses and 8 units of non-Physics courses) in addition to the requirements specified by their chosen concentration or track (see below).  All courses that count toward the major must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher. In addition the Core Curriculum requirements must be completed.

Required Physics Courses
PHYS 185INTRODUCTORY HONORS SEMINAR IN PHYSICS1
Select one of the following:8
GENERAL PHYSICS I CALCULUS-BASED
and GENERAL PHYSICS II CALCULUS-BASED
HONORS GENERAL PHYSICS I CALCULUS-BASED
and HONOR GENERAL PHYSICS II CALCULUS-BASED
PHYS 243GENERAL PHYSICS III4
PHYS 270COMPUTERS IN PHYSICS4
PHYS 307INTRODUCTORY MATHEMATICAL PHYSICS3
PHYS 311MODERN PHYSICS I3
PHYS 341INTERMEDIATE PHYSICS LABORATORY I3
PHYS 351MECHANICS4
PHYS 354ELECTRICITY & MAGNETISM4
Non-Physics Requirements
MATH 273CALCULUS I4
MATH 274CALCULUS II4
Total Units42

General Physics Concentration

The common physics courses and the non-physics requirements must be completed, as well as the following courses. All required courses in this concentration must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher.

Advanced Physics Courses (23 Units)
PHYS 312MODERN PHYSICS II3
PHYS 342INTERMEDIATE PHYSICS LABORATORY II3
PHYS 352THERMODYNAMICS AND KINETIC THEORY3
PHYS 385PHYSICS SEMINAR1
PHYS 455INTRODUCTORY QUANTUM MECHANICS3
PHYS 486PHYSICS SEMINAR II1
At least nine units of upper level physics or astronomy electives9
Non-Physics Requirements (15 Units)
CHEM 131GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LECTURE3
CHEM 131LGENERAL CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY1
CHEM 132GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LECTURE3
CHEM 132LGENERAL CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY1
MATH 275CALCULUS III4
MATH 374DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS3
Total Units38

B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Applied Physics

Students in the general concentration have the option of applying to a combined program that provides students with the opportunity to obtain a B.S. degree in Physics and a M.S. degree in Applied Physics in a shortened timeframe. 

Applied Physics Concentration

The common physics courses and the non-physics requirements must be completed, as well as the following courses. All required courses in this concentration must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher.

Advanced Physics Courses (25 Units)
PHYS 312MODERN PHYSICS II3
PHYS 335BASIC ELECTRONICS4
or PHYS 337 DIGITAL ELECTRONICS
PHYS 342INTERMEDIATE PHYSICS LABORATORY II3
PHYS 361OPTICS FUNDAMENTALS4
PHYS 385PHYSICS SEMINAR1
PHYS 486PHYSICS SEMINAR II1
At least nine units of upper level physics or astronomy electives9
Non-Physics Requirements (15 Units)
CHEM 131GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LECTURE3
CHEM 131LGENERAL CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY1
CHEM 132GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LECTURE3
CHEM 132LGENERAL CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY1
MATH 275CALCULUS III4
MATH 374DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS3
Total Units40

Astrophysics Concentration

The common physics and non-physics required courses must be completed, as well as the following courses. All required courses in this concentration must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher.

Additional Physics and Astrophysics Courses (28 Units)
ASTR 161THE SKY AND THE SOLAR SYSTEM4
ASTR 162GENERAL ASTRONOMY II4
ASTR 303ASTROPHYSICAL TECHNIQUES3
ASTR 331INTRODUCTION TO STELLAR ASTROPHYSICS3
ASTR 385ASTROPHYSICS SEMINAR1
ASTR 432GALAXIES AND COSMOLOGY3
PHYS 312MODERN PHYSICS II3
PHYS 486PHYSICS SEMINAR II1
At least six units of upper level physics or astronomy electives6
Non-Physics Requirements (15 Units)
CHEM 131GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LECTURE3
CHEM 131LGENERAL CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY1
CHEM 132GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LECTURE3
CHEM 132LGENERAL CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY1
MATH 275CALCULUS III4
MATH 374DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS3
Total Units43

Computational Physics Concentration

The common physics and non-physics required courses must be completed, as well as the following courses.  All required courses in this concentration must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher.

Advanced Physics Courses
PHYS 337DIGITAL ELECTRONICS4
PHYS 385PHYSICS SEMINAR1
PHYS 486PHYSICS SEMINAR II1
Non-Physics Requirements
COSC 236INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SCIENCE I4
COSC 237INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SCIENCE II4
COSC 290PRINCIPLES OF COMPUTER ORGANIZATION4
COSC 336DATA STRUCTURES AND ALGORITHM ANALYSIS4
MATH 263DISCRETE MATHEMATICS3
MATH 265ELEMENTARY LINEAR ALGEBRA4
MATH 275CALCULUS III4
MATH 374DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS3
MATH 435NUMERICAL ANALYSIS I3
Total Units39

B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Computer Science  

This program provides students with the opportunity to obtain a B.S. degree in Physics and a M.S. degree in Computer Science in 5 years. 

Engineering Dual Degree Track

This track is only available to those students participating in the Dual Degree Program. The common physics and non-physics required courses must be completed, as well as the following courses. All required courses in this track must be completed with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher.

Advanced Physics Courses
PHYS 385PHYSICS SEMINAR1
Two upper level engineering courses 6
Non-Physics Requirements
CHEM 131GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LECTURE3
CHEM 131LGENERAL CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY1
CHEM 132GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LECTURE3
CHEM 132LGENERAL CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY1
MATH 275CALCULUS III4
MATH 374DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS3
Total Units22

By its very nature, physics is more hierarchical in its course structure than typical humanities or social science disciplines. Therefore, many courses depend heavily on prerequisite courses (such as calculus and general physics). Any time that is required to prepare for calculus, such as taking MATH 119, must be added to the four-year minimum. Normally, progress in mathematics and general physics is the pacesetter.

General Track in Physics Suggested Four-Year Plan

Freshman
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 1851PHYS 241 (Core 8)4
MATH 273 (Core 3)4MATH 2744
CHEM 131
131L (Core 7)
4CHEM 132
132L
4
Core 3Core3
Core 3 
 15 15
Sophomore
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 2424PHYS 2704
MATH 2754PHYS 2434
Core3PHYS 3073
Core3MATH 3743
 14 14
Junior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3113PHYS 3123
PHYS 3413PHYS 3423
PHYS 3514PHYS 3544
Core3PHYS 3851
Core3Core3
 Core3
 16 17
Senior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 4553PHYS 3523
PHYS 4861PHYS Elective3
PHYS Elective3PHYS Elective3
Elective3Core3
Elective3Elective3
Core3 
 16 15
Total Units 122

Applied Track in Physics Suggested Four-Year Plan

Freshman
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 1851PHYS 2414
MATH 273 (Core 3)4MATH 2744
CHEM 131
131L (Core 7)
4CHEM 132
132L (Core 8)
4
Core3Core3
Core3 
 15 15
Sophomore
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 2424PHYS 2704
MATH 2754PHYS 2434
Core3PHYS 3073
Core3MATH 3743
 14 14
Junior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3113PHYS 3123
PHYS 3413PHYS 3423
PHYS 3514PHYS 3544
Core3PHYS 3851
Core3Core3
 Core3
 16 17
Senior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3614PHYS 3354
PHYS 4861PHYS Elective3
PHYS Elective3PHYS Elective3
Elective3Core3
Elective3Elective3
Core3 
 17 16
Total Units 124

Astrophysics Track Suggested Four-Year Plan

Freshman
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 1851PHYS 242 (Core 8)4
MATH 273 (Core 3)4MATH 2744
PHYS 241 (Core 7)4PHYS 2704
Core3Core3
Core3 
 15 15
Sophomore
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3113PHYS 2434
PHYS 3413PHYS 3123
MATH 2754ASTR 1624
ASTR 1614Core3
 14 14
Junior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
ASTR 3033PHYS 3073
CHEM 131
131L
4CHEM 132
132L
4
MATH 3743Core3
Core3Core3
 Core 3
 13 16
Senior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3514PHYS 3544
PHYS 4861PHYS Elective3
ASTR 4323ASTR 3313
PHYS Elective3ASTR 3851
Core3Core 3
Core3 
 17 14
Total Units 118

Computational physics Track Suggested Four-Year Plan

Freshman
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 1851PHYS 2424
PHYS 2414PHYS 2704
MATH 273 (Core 3)4COSC 2364
Core 3MATH 2744
Core3 
 15 16
Sophomore
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3113PHYS 2434
PHYS 3413PHYS 3073
MATH 2754MATH 3743
COSC 2374MATH 2633
Core3Core3
 17 16
Junior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3514PHYS 3544
MATH 2654COSC 3364
COSC 2904PHYS 3851
Core3Core3
 Core3
 15 15
Senior
Term 1UnitsTerm 2Units
PHYS 3374Elective3
MATH 4353Elective3
PHYS 4861Core3
Core3Core3
Core3Core3
 14 15
Total Units 123

1: Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental principles of physics and major concepts in a student’s chosen track and be able to apply these principles to solve quantitative problems.
2: Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of scientific research.
3: Communicate scientific information effectively in both oral and written formats.
4: Utilize and apply technology to investigate experimental and theoretical scientific problems.