Department of Physics

Degrees in Physics

We offer two Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees, in Physics and Applied Physics; we also offer a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and a minor in Physics.  The physics major offers a challenging program emphasizing a low student-faculty ratio and the opportunity to engage in independent research projects.

There are two introductory course sequences, College Physics and General Physics; the General Physics sequence incorporates calculus and is required for all majors and the minor. The student majoring in Physics is required to complete three semesters of calculus (up through MATH 253).

The Bachelor of Arts degree is the minimum preparation appropriate for the field and is best combined with other degree programs, such as a second major or a minor. The minor in Physics is ideal for those who do not have the time or space to complete a major in the field.

Students must complete a capstone project for their major. They may not use the capstone of another major to fulfill the Physics capstone. While there may be overlap in the topic chosen, they must complete all of the Physics capstone requirements and take PYHS 499A and 499B.

BACHELOR OF ARTS MAJOR

44 semester hours

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 499A, 499B
  • Plus: 12 additional, upper-division semester hours in physics.
  • Required supporting courses: MATH 151, 152, 253; CSCE 144

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE MAJOR

56 semester hours

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 331, 332, 333, 336, 354, 356, 499A, 499B
  • Strongly recommended: PHYS 401
  • Chemistry 341 may be substituted for PHYS 333
  • Required supporting courses: CHEM 115; MATH 151, 152, 253

A typical B.S. physics major program is as follows:

  • First Year: PHYS 153, 163; MATH 151, 152
  • Sophomore Year: PHYS 154, 164, 223, 354; MATH 253
  • Junior Year: PHYS 331, 332, 336, 356; CHEM 115
  • Senior Year: PHYS 333, 401, 499A, 499B

MINOR

22 semester hours

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223
  • Plus: 8 additional semester hours in physics (excluding PHYS 110), of which at least 4 hours must be upper division.

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE MAJOR APPLIED PHYSICS

70 semester hours

Also available is a major in Applied Physics, which includes a substantial selection of courses from engineering to provide a challenging and highly versatile degree. Applied Physics can lead to research or advanced study in such areas as robotics— with application in space exploration or joint and limb prosthetics; growth of single-crystal metals, which would be thousands of times stronger than the best steels now available; mechanics of material failure, such as metal fatigue and fracture; turbulence in fluid flow; photovoltaic cell research for solar energy development; or applications of fluid flow and thermodynamics to the study of planetary atmospheres and ocean currents.

While many Applied Physics graduates pursue professional careers in industry immediately after graduation from PLU, the program also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in nearly all fields of engineering.

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 331, 334, 354, 356, 499A, 499B
  • CSCE 131
  • Plus: four courses, one of which must be upper division, selected from:
    • CSCE 231, 331, 345 
    • PHYS 210, 221, 240, 333
    • PHYS 336 may be substituted for PHYS 240
    • CHEM 341 may be substituted for PHYS 333
  • Required supporting courses: CHEM 115; CSCE 144; MATH 151, 152, 253
A Typical Applied Physics Program is as follows:
  • First Year: PHYS 153, 163; CSCE 131; MATH 151, 152
  • Sophomore Year: PHYS 154, 164, 221, 354; MATH 253
  • Junior Year: PHYS 223, 333, 356; CHEM 115; CSCE 144
  • Senior Year: PHYS 240, 331, 334, 499A, 499B; CSCE 331