The study of physics is considered the center of modern science. It has fascinated the finest minds of every age from Newton to Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, Schroedinger, Oppenheimer, and Schwinger. The study of this diverse field encompasses such areas as optics, electricity, magnetism, the properties of the solid state, atomic structure, nuclear structure, motion, relativity, space and time. Physics also plays a significant role in chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology, and in the applied sciences of engineering and technology.

Students who become physics majors will be selecting a rewarding and vital career. The great burst of activity during the last 20 years has instilled a new excitement in physics. Two examples are the invention of the laser and the development of high temperature superconductors. These advances have stimulated whole new areas in physics applications.

Program Overview

After completing preparatory classes in physics, mathematics and chemistry, the physics major chooses either a set of generalized upper-division classes in physics or chooses a specialized set of courses from one of five areas: computational physics; condensed matter; foundations; modern optics; or scientific instrumentation.

A minimum of 45 upper-division units in mathematics and physics are required for the Bachelor of Science degree. For the Bachelor of Arts degree, students must complete a minimum of 33 upper-division units in mathematics and physics and gain competency in a foreign language. Chemical physics majors complete a minimum of 48 upper-division units in chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Special Features

A notable strength of the upper-division program in physics is the quality and quantity of the hands-on laboratory work. Another of the principal strengths of the undergraduate programs is the involvement of the students in active research programs, primarily through the senior thesis experience. Students receiving the Bachelor of Science in physics from SDSU are, in general, much better trained in laboratory skills than students from almost any other institution. All students write a senior thesis. In many cases, joint faculty-student publication in refereed journals is the result of the senior thesis.

The nature of research in physics and the international diversity of the faculty and students have contributed in many ways to the vibrant, worldly atmosphere in the Physics Department. In recent years, this department has had active collaboration with groups in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland, including several bilateral visits of faculty and students. Areas of study include classical and quantum fluids, optics, physics education, condensed-matter physics, and environmental science

The facilities include an anechoic chamber for acoustics research; high-speed parallel-networked computational physics laboratory; holography laboratory; several well-equipped optics laboratories that contain high-power pulse and CW laser systems; a very high-field pulsed magnet; nuclear magnetic resonance and electron paramagnetic resonance laboratories with a variety of large electromagnets; materials preparation laboratory; nuclear instrumentation; and biomedical imaging laboratory with image processing capabilities.

The Center for Energy Studies (CES) facilitates, promotes and supports research and academic programs relating to energy, with particular emphasis on energy matters of concern to the San Diego and local southwestern region. The Center encourages research and instruction.

Career Opportunities

The career opportunities for physics graduates are as diverse as the field itself. They include: research and development; management or administration in industrial laboratories or government agencies; technical sales; electronic design; laser instrument research; and secondary teaching.

Physics graduates may also enter a wide variety of graduate programs. For example, a radiological physics master's degree qualifies students for employment with the Environmental Protection Agency, nuclear power stations, government laboratories, and hospitals.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Physics program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.