Degree Requirements2016-2017



Professor N. Daniel Gibson, Chair

Professors Steven D. Doty, N. Daniel Gibson, Daniel C. Homan, C. Wesley Walter; Associate Professors Kimberly A. Coplin, Riina Tehver; Assistant Professors Melanie Lott, Steven M. Olmschenk, Laura DeGroot; Technician/Machinist David Burdick; Academic Administrative Assistant, Beth Jeffries

Departmental Guidelines and Goals

The study of physics is a challenging and intellectually rewarding activity elected by those who seek to sharpen and broaden their appreciation and understanding of the physical world and their relationship to it. To this end, courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy are designed to bring the student to an increasingly independent level of investigation in experimental and theoretical physics, and to a level of sophistication commensurate with his or her motivation, goals, and abilities.

A major in Physics is great preparation for careers in engineering, medicine, business, computer science, law, industrial management, and teaching. Sufficient flexibility exists in the major program to suit the needs and goals of the individual.

For off-campus research opportunities in Physics, see the Oak Ridge Science Semester described at

Physics Major

A student who wants to major or minor in Physics, or minor in Astronomy, should consult with a member of the Department as soon as possible The requirements for the major in Physics include Physics courses, Math courses, and the comprehensive experience, as discussed below:

  1. Physics courses - The B.A. degree requires Physics 125, 126, 127, 200, 201, 211, 305, 306, 312, and two semesters of 400 (1 credit each). The B.S. degree includes all requirements for the B.A. degree plus two additional Physics courses: 330, and one additional Physics or Astronomy course at the 200 level or above. (Students who have taken Physics 121-2 should consult with the chair about Physics course requirements.)

  2. Math courses - The B.A. degree requires Math 123 and 124. The B.S. degree requires Math 123 and 124, as well as one additional Math class at the 200 level or above.

  3. Comprehensive experience - Both the B.A. and B.S. degrees require successful completion of the comprehensive experience including: (1) satisfactory performance on an independent research project; and (2) a passing grade on the physics comprehensive examination, normally administered during the senior year.

Students preparing for graduate work in Physics, Astronomy, or related fields are advised to elect the B.S. degree in Physics. Additional courses taken in other science departments (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geosciences, Math) are desirable.

Physics Minor

A minor program in Physics is designed to be flexible and to complement the student’s major program. The student, in consultation with the Physics and Astronomy Department, will develop a minor program that will broaden and enhance both the liberal arts experience and the student’s major program. The minor shall include: Physics 125, 126, 127, and Mathematics 123 and 124. (Students who have taken Physics 121-2 should consult with the chair about requirements.) In addition, three courses at the advanced level (200 and above) in Physics are required for the minor. One of the three courses must include a significant laboratory component. These courses will be selected to provide a perspective on the discipline with the specific needs of the student in mind. In addition to these requirements, a final culminating experience will be designed by the Department and the student. As an example, if the student’s major requires a comprehensive exam, then additional questions from Physics might be included that would tend to integrate or connect the two disciplines. Another possibility might include an interdisciplinary research that bridges the major and minor areas.

Major in Physics (Geophysics Concentration)

The minimum requirements for this program are Physics 125, 126, 127, 211, 305, 306, 312g, Math 123 and 124, Geosciences 111 (or an equivalent introductory course), 210, 211, and two 300 level courses (chosen in consultation with the Geosciences chair), and the physics comprehensive examination. In addition, an independent comprehensive project (experimental or theoretical) is required. Students with an interest in geophysics should consult with the Physics and Geosciences chairpersons not later than their sophomore year.

Additional Points of Interest

Engineering Denison offers the opportunity to study engineering via three, two dual-degree programs undertaken in cooperation with leading schools of engineering. Students interested in these programs should consult early with the Physics Department chair. Additional details can be found in this catalog under Pre-Professional Programs.