Areas of Study & Degrees
The courses in physics, astronomy, and engineering are designed to acquaint students with the general all-embracing principles that are the foundations of the present understanding of physics, astronomy and engineering and to furnish experiences in lecture and laboratory that will develop scientific attitudes, insights and techniques. The department seeks to prepare students for graduate study or to provide students preparing to teach at pre-college level with a background appropriate with their needs, to provide students with the physics background required for work in engineering, related sciences and medicine, and to assist non-science majors in developing an insight into the physical aspects of our environment and the extensive scientific activity of our society.
Definition of Majors and Minors
Programs for physics majors and minors vary with the student's goals and interests. The recommended curriculum for the student preparing for graduate study in physics or employment as a professional physicist is detailed below. Students interested in both physics and engineering may wish to consider the Physics-Engineering Dual Degree Program described in this bulletin in the next section. The minimum course requirements for a major in physics consist of 36 hours of physics. This must include PHY 321, 333, 347, 440 and 470 plus four additional advanced physics hours, three of which must be 400 level. CHE 133 and 134 are also required.
The requirements for a minor are 18 semester hours, six of which are advanced, and must include PHY 131 (or 241), 132 (or 242), and 333. All programs must be approved on the degree plan by the chair of the department. Majors, minors and those seeking teacher certification should consult with an adviser in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at their earliest opportunity to plan their program with the proper sequencing of courses.
The astronomy minor has been developed for students who have interests in astronomy beyond the introductory level. The course of study includes introductory physics, introductory astronomy, observational astronomy and astrophysics. A student majoring in physics may minor in astronomy, but those courses that are applied to the minor cannot be applied to the major at the same time unless the student has a second minor from another department.
The requirements for the minor in astronomy are PHY 131 (or 241), 132 (or 242), AST 105, 305, and 335. All minor programs must be approved on the degree plan by the chair of the department.
The engineering minor includes courses in introductory engineering, statics, dynamics, electrical circuits and devices, and digital systems. This minor would prepare students for employment or continued study in the areas of mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering. (This minor does not qualify a student to take the professional engineering exam.)
A minor in engineering requires a minimum of 18 hours of engineering course work. The requirements for the minor in engineering are EGR 111 or 112, EGR 215, 250, 321 and 343. All minor programs must be approved on the degree plan by the chair of the department.
A student majoring in physics may minor in engineering, but those courses that are applied to the minor cannot be applied to the major at the same time unless the student has a second minor from another department.
Teacher Certification Programs
Requirements for certification in the physical sciences are listed in the Teacher Certification section of this bulletin.
Physics Freshman Scholarships and Financial Aid
In addition to those opportunities provided through the Office of Student Financial Assistance described elsewhere in this bulletin, the Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a number of scholarships to well-qualified students majoring in physics. Inquiries regarding scholarships should be directed to the chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department. Beginning freshmen are advised to make application for a scholarship during their senior year in high school. Part-time employment opportunities within the department are usually available to physics majors and minors, astronomy minors, and engineering minors who have completed, with good academic records, a portion of their physics, astronomy, and engineering courses.
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) at SFA has been extremely active since the 1970s. The club is a support organization involved with activities that serve the department, the university and the local public. These activities include public viewing sessions at the SFA Observatory, Physics Olympics and Physics Magic Shows for local area schools. From 1982-07, SPS won 23 National Outstanding Chapter Awards. Twelve to 16 students each semester attend SPS meetings held in conjunction with the Texas Sections of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Physical Society.
Recommended Curriculum for Majors
During the summer prior to their beginning the program outlined below, students unprepared for MTH 233 are encouraged to enroll for preparatory mathematics courses equivalent to MTH 133, 138, and 139. Students who cannot obtain the preparatory mathematics before beginning this program may, in consultation with the physics faculty, work out an alternate plan which leads to the B.S. degree with a major in physics.
Students majoring in physics regularly minor in mathematics. Many elect to pursue a double major in physics and mathematics. The following recommended curriculum includes courses meeting the requirements for a major in physics and a minor in mathematics. To obtain a double major in physics and mathematics students should take additional mathematics courses in place of electives to meet the requirements listed in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.