Requirements for the Major and Minor in Physics (PHY)

The major in Physics leads to the Bachelor of Science degree.

All courses used to satisfy the major requirements must be completed with a grade of C or higher, except that a maximum of three courses at the 100- or 200-level may be completed with a grade of C-.

Completion of the major requires approximately 67 credits.

A. Courses in Physics

  • PHY 131/133, 132/134 Classical Physics I, II with Laboratories (See Note 1)
  • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics with Laboratory
  • PHY 277 Computation for Physics and Astronomy
  • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
  • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHY 303 Mechanics
  • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 308 Quantum Physics
  • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
  • PHY 445 Senior Laboratory

Notes:

1. The sequence PHY 125, 126, 127 with labs PHY 133 & 134 or PHY 141/133, 142/134 may substitute for PHY 131/133, 132/134. PHY 127 may be taken before PHY 126 .

2. At least four courses numbered 300 or above must be taken at Stony Brook.

3. AST 443 may substitute for PHY 445.

4. PHY/BME double majors who graduate with a BE in Biomedical Engineering may substitute BME 120 for PHY 277.

5. PHY/CSE double majors who graduate with a BS in Computer Science are exempt from PHY 277.

B. Courses in Mathematics

1. One of the following sequences: MAT 125, 126, 127 Calculus A, B, Cor MAT 131, 132 Calculus I, II or MAT 141, 142  Honors Calculus I, II or MAT 171 Accelerated Single Variable Calculus or AMS 151, 161 Applied Calculus I, II. If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.

2. One of the following: MAT 205 Calculus III or MAT 203 Calculus III with Applications or AMS 261 Applied Calculus III

3. One of the following: MAT 305 Calculus IV or MAT 303 Calculus IV with Applications or AMS 361 Applied Calculus IV: Differential Equations

Note: Equivalency for MAT courses achieved on the Mathematics Place­ment Examination is accepted as fulfillment of the corresponding requirements, as indicated in the Course Descriptions section of this Bulletin.

C. Courses in Related Fields

Twelve credits of physics-related courses that complement a Physics major’s education are required. The intent is to add courses, especially in other quantitative sciences, which prepare the student for successful employment in research, education or industry. Any course beyond those required for the physics major that is required by the student’s minor, second major or master’s degree (for students in a combined degree program) is automatically included in the list of related courses.  Additional related courses are listed below, but they are not exclusive. If another course is of interest and should qualify under the above goals, consult the undergraduate program director to see if it can be included.

  • AMS: 102, 110, 210, 301, 303, 310, 311, 315 332, 335, 345, 351 and other 300-level courses (not 361).
  • AST: 203, 205,287, 341, 346, 347, 443, 447 and 487.
  • ATM: 205, 247, 305, 320, 345, 346, 348, 397, 447 and 487.
  • BIO: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 207, 310, 311, 332 and other 300-level courses.
  • BME: 100, 120, 212, 212, 260 and many 300-level courses.
  • CHE: 131/133, 132/134, 152, 154, 301, 302, 321, 322, 351, 375 and other 300-level courses.
  • CSE: 110, 130, 150, 160, 161, 230, 260, 261 and most 300-level courses.
  • ECO: 303, 305, 310, 321, 355 and 373.
  • ESE: many 200- and 300-level courses.
  • ESG: 302 and other 300-level courses.
  • ESM: many 200- and 300-level courses.
  • EST: 291, 320, 392, 393 and 499.
  • GEO: 287 and many 300-level courses.
  • HBM: 320 and 321.
  • ISE: 332
  • MAT: 211, 310,312, 331, 333, 341, 342, 351, 362 and many 300-level courses (not 303, 305 or 307).
  • MAR: most 300-level courses.
  • MEC: most 300-level courses.
  • WSE: 187 and 242

D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

Students are certified as satisfying the upper-division writing requirement by registering for the 0-credit  PHY  459 and completing a writing project within their major.  Students majoring in physics should consult an actual publication (for instance in Physical Review Letters or Physics Today) when considering the style of their submission.  The writing project should be a clear, concise expression of a scientific statement.  Within the first month of the semester in which the writing requirement is to be satisfied, the student should speak to the supervisor about his/her plans. If there are questions over the suitability of the proposed writing project, the student should discuss the proposal with the undergraduate program director.  After the paper is accepted by the supervisor it is submitted to the undergraduate program director for a final approval. Satisfaction of the writing requirement is certified independently of the course grade, and is best completed in the junior year.

Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education.  Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate.  The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

Honors

To receive the Bachelor of Science in Physics with honors, in addition to having completed all the requirements for the B.S. in Physics, a student must satisfy the following:

  1. PHY 487 Research (at least 3 credits total)
  2. Two other 400-level physics courses
  3. Overall grade point average of at least 3.30 in all physics courses numbered 300 or higher.

The Research Program

Students who wish to pursue graduate study in physics should choose a program similar to this suggested example:

Freshman Year

  • PHY 131/133 Classical Physics I with Laboratory or PHY 141/133 Classical Physics I: Honors
  • PHY 132/134 Classical Physics II with Laboratory or PHY 142/134 Classical Physics II: Honors
  • MAT 131 Calculus I
  • MAT 132 Calculus II

Sophomore Year

Junior Year

  • PHY 301, 302 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHY 303 Mechanics
  • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 308 Quantum Physics
  • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
  • MAT 211 Linear Algebra
  • MAT 341 Applied Real Analysis
  • MAT 342 Applied Complex Analysis

Senior Year

  • PHY 405 Advanced Quantum Physics
  • PHY 445 Senior Laboratory
  • At least 3 credits of PHY 487 research, and one other 400 level course.

Note: Of the courses mentioned above, MAT 211, MAT 341, MAT 342, PHY 302, and 400 level courses other than PHY 445 are not required for the B.S. in Physics.

Specialization in Optics

Students majoring in Physics may decide to pursue a specialization in Optics. This specialization is listed on the official transcript.

In addition to the courses required for the major, students must complete the following with a grade of C or better to satisfy the requirements of the specialization:

A. Required Departmental Courses (6 credits)
      PHY 302 Electricity and Magnetism II
      PHY 452 Lasers

B. Optics-Related Laboratory Experience
     PHY 487 Research (at least three credits, optics related)

C.  One Additional Elective Course:
Either PHY 405 Advanced Quantum Mechanics, or one of many courses in other departments (including the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences-CEAS) that could meet the requirements for this additional elective. Advance approval of such courses must be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Examples of such courses in the CEAS are: ESE 340 Basic Communication Theory; ESE 358 Computer Vision; ESE 363 Fiber Optic Communications; and ESM 325 Diffraction Techniques.

Physics Secondary Teacher Education Program

See the Education and Teacher Certifi­cation entry in alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs.

Introductory Physics Sequences

The Department of Physics offers four Introductory Physics Sequences. The PHY 121/123, 122/124 sequence is designed specifically for students majoring in biological sciences or pre-medical/pre-health programs. Any of the other three sequences (PHY 131/133, 132/134; PHY 141/133, 142/134; PHY 125, 126, 127 and PHY 133 & 134 together with PHY 251/252 constitute a comprehensive introduction to classical and modern physics for those who may major in Physics, other physical sciences, or engineering. These three introductory Physics sequences cover the same material, although the pace is different. The two-semester sequence (PHY 131/133, 132/134 or PHY 141/133, 142/134) should be taken only by students who are prepared for a pace considerably faster than the three semester sequence (PHY 125/126/127/133/134). The PHY 141/133/142/134 sequence is designed for students with the strongest interest and preparation in physics and mathematics. In the PHY 125/126/133/127/134 sequence, PHY 126 and 127 may be taken in either order, although 133 remains a prerequisite for 134.

Minor

The minor in Physics is available for students who want their University studies to include significant upper-division work in physics.

All courses offered for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the minor requires 20 physics credits beyond the Introductory Physics Sequence.

Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics
  • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
  • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHY 303 Mechanics
  • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
  • One of the following:
  • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
  • CHE 302 Physical Chemistry II

Requirements for the Minor in Physics for students with majors in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences:

  • One of the following:
    • PHY 251/252 Modern Physics
    • ESG 281 An Engineering Introduction to the Solid State
  • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
  • One of the following:
    • PHY 300 Waves and Optics
    • ESG 281 An Engineering Introduction to the Solid State
  • One of the following:
    • PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory
    • ESE 319 Introduction to Electromagnetic Fields and Waves
    • PHY 303 Mechanics
  • One of the following:
    • PHY 306 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
    • MEC 398 Thermodynamics II
  • One of the following:
    • PHY 335 Electronics and Instrumentation Laboratory
    • ESE 314 Electronics Laboratory B