All students interested in becoming a physics major should meet with a departmental faculty advisor. Once enrolled, it is recommnded that you meet with a departmental advisor at least once per year.
All physics majors are required to complete the following lower-division courses. In order to complete a physics major in four years these courses should be completed during the first two years. All of these courses are available in either the Fall or Spring semesters except for the laboratory course PHYS 284 which is available in the Spring. MATH 229 is a co-requisite for PHYS 253. In general it is better to have taken some calculus prior to the term you are enrolled in PHYS 253 and so for most students it is recommended that they complete MATH 229 prior to enrolling in PHYS 253. Please consult the department for advisement if there is any uncertainty on when PHYS 253 should be taken. Students, including transfer students, who have taken the non-calculus courses PHYS 210 or PHYS 211 should consult the department for advisement.
All physics majors are required to complete the following upper-division courses. These courses are intended for the third year of a four year program. PHYS 375 can be taken during either the third or fourth year while PHYS 498 is taken during the student's final year. MATH 336 can be taken during the student's fourth semester immediately after completing MATH 232.
The physics department offers a variety of emphases to appeal to students of varied interests. Each emphasis is marked with a different set of requirements and electives to complete the major. These courses would be taken after the first two years.
The goal of the professional physics emphasis is to provide a traditional education in physics for students intending to continue on to graduate school. The following courses are required for this emphasis:
For students who plan on attending graduate school in physics, it is strongly recommended that you take: a) one or more of PHYS 385 (Methods of Mathematical Physics I), MATH 240 (Linear Algebra), and MATH 339 (Engineering Mathematics I) prior to taking PHYS 460; b) both PHYS 400 and PHYS 470; and c) PHYS 485.
Majors seeking to complete this program should consider the following sequence for the third and fourth years. Courses marked with an * are elective.
The goal of the secondary school teaching emphasis is to provide the necessary background in physics to teach at the high-school level. The following courses are required for this emphasis:
The goal of the applied physics emphasis is to provide a physics major for students who plan to seek employment in a physics-related industry or in a professional school with physics applications. This emphasis is intended to provide a solid background in physcs with a focus on a specific cross-disciplinary area.
The additional requirements for this emphasis are 17-19 credit hours including at least 10 hours of physics at the 300 or 400 level. Students should consult with a departmental advisor for assistance in selecting an appropriate sequence of courses to constitute a track of study. Example tracks include the following:
All physics minors are required to complete the following courses. At least six semester hours must be taken at NIU.