Graduate Program

Walter L. Trikosko, Graduate Program Adviser
Science 322A

MSNS Degree Program

Apply for Graduate Admission

Graduate Handbook

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a program of study leading to the Master of Science degree with a major in physics. The department has a well-established graduate program designed for students who wish to pursue physics as a profession with industry or to continue study leading to the Ph.D. This curriculum provides a firm foundation in the principles of classical and quantum physics and their application in atomic, molecular, nuclear, and solid state physics. Research activity is strongly encouraged. The department also offers an alternate series of courses and research activity leading to the Master of Science degree directed toward the preparation of students who are planning careers in teaching at the pre-college and junior college level. Students with these goals may select this optional program or may combine elements from this program with those of the professional level program described above. Admission requirements are the same as the general admission requirements of the Graduate School.

Graduate Majors and Minors

A graduate major in physics must complete a thesis program that includes 18 to 36 graduate hours in physics. Programs are structured in accordance with the student’s background and professional objectives.

Students pursuing the professional physics option must include Physics 512, 531, 532, and 551.

For students preparing to teach in their program of study at the pre-college or junior college level, programs will normally include 513 and a thesis related to the teaching of the subject matter.

A graduate minor in physics consists of a minimum of nine semester hours of physics.

Facilities and Research Opportunities

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is located in a well-designed science building with adequate laboratory space, a well-equipped machine shop, and other facilities that provide an excellent study environment. A full-time machinist is employed in the department. Major equipment items include a complete X-ray diffractometer, a cryogenics laboratory, atomic force microscope, scanning electron microscope, high vacuum equipment, and excellent supporting electronic instrumentation and apparatus. Several microcomputers are available in the department.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy operates an astronomical observatory at a site 11 miles from the main campus with instructional viewing facilities with 16 6-inch reflectors, 12 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflectors, a 10-inch LX-200 telescope, an 18-inch Cassegrain telescope, and a 41-inch Cassegrain telescope. Also at the site are four 10-foot diameter radio telescopes.

Both experimental and theoretical research are being conducted in the areas of molecular spectroscopy, solid state physics, low temperature physics, and astronomy.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are awarded each year in the department.
For information and applications, contact the chair of the department.

Graduate Faculty

Thomas O. Callaway, Ph.D., University of Arkansas, Liquids and Amorphous Materials
Harry D. Downing, Ph.D., Florida State University, Infrared Spectroscopy
Robert W. Gruebel, Ph.D., University of Arkansas, X-rays, Liquid State Physics
Norman L. Markworth, Ph.D., University of Florida, Astronomy
W. Dan Bruton, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, Liquids and Amorphous Materials, Astronomy

Associate Professors
Robert B. Friedfeld, Ph.D., Florida Institute of Technology, Thin Films, Solid State
Joseph Musser, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, Classical and Quantum Optics
Walter L. Trikosko, Ph.D., Clemson University, Low Temperature Physics

Courses in Physics (PHY)

Unless otherwise indicated, courses are three semester hours credit.
430   Thermodynamics. Includes the kinetic theory of gases, Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics, Fermi-Dirac statistics, the Debye Approximation, magnetic cooling, and the theory of heat engines. Prerequisite: PHY 333.
431   Introductory Quantum Mechanics. DeBroglie wave, Schroedinger formulation, step and barrier potentials, perturbation theory, harmonic oscillator, annihilation and creation operations, commutation relations, representations. Prerequisite: PHY 333.
441   Optics. Four semester hours, three hours lecture per week, three hours lab per week. Fundamentals of physical and geometrical optics including polarization and diffraction. Prerequisite: PHY 440. Lab fee required.
511   Nuclear Physics. Four semester hours. Prerequisite: PHY 431.
512   Atomic Structure. Prerequisite: PHY 431.
513   Laboratory and Demonstration Experiments In Physical Science. Two to four semester hours. Students are trained in the acquisition, assembly and use of apparatus required for physical science experiments. Prerequisite: 12 hours total from natural science and/or education. Lab fee required.
521   Electronic Devices for Classroom Demonstration. Two to four semester hours. A presentation designed primarily for in-service teachers. Students are trained in the operational principles of the devices and their use in classroom demonstrations and experiments. Prerequisite: 12 hours total from natural science and/or education. Lab fee required.
522   Astronomy for In-Service Teachers. Two to four semester hours. A descriptive study of the universe, galaxies and the solar system specifically designed for the in-service physical science teacher in both elementary and secondary education. Prerequisite: 12 hours total from natural science and/or education. Lab fee required.
523   Laboratory and Demonstration Experiments In Atmospheric Science. Two to four semester hours. Prerequisites: 12 hours total from natural science and/or education. Lab fee required.
531   Classical Mechanics. Four semester hours, four hours lecture per week. Lagrange’s equations, Hamilton’s principle, dynamics of particles and of rigid bodies, gyrodynamics, the Hamilton equations of motion, and canonical transformations. Prerequisite: Intermediate mechanics.
532   Electromagnetic Waves. Four semester hours, four hours lecture per week. Theory of electromagnetism, static, and time varying fields and propagation, reflection and refraction of electromagnetic waves. Prerequisite: PHY 440.
533   A and B. Theoretical Physics. Four semester hours, four hours lecture per week. Topics selected in accordance with the interests and areas of specialization of the graduate students. Course may be repeated with different subject matter one time for credit. Prerequisites: PHY 440 and 431.
534   Solid State Physics. Four semester hours, four hours lecture per week. An interplay of experiment and theory provides insight into both surface and interface physics, non-crystalline solids and alloys. Energy band structures and dispersion relationships expand student’s command of electrodynamics, crystallography, thermodynamics, optics, and classical, quantum, and statistical mechanics. Prerequisite: PHY 431.
551   Advanced Quantum Mechanics. Four semester hours, four hours lecture per week. Wave packets and free particle motion, double minimum potential, piecewise constant potentials, scattering, spin, approximation methods, dynamics, matrix theory, Dirac Electron theory. Prerequisite: PHY 431.
570   A and B. Individual Instruction In Technical Presentations. One semester hour, one hour lecture per week. Individual instruction. Student participation in general and special topics in physics. Graduate major or minor status.
575   Advanced Graduate Studies. One to four semester hours. Individual instruction and special problems not a part of thesis. May be repeated under different topics.
576   Advanced Graduate Studies. One to four semester hours depending upon the topic. Same as PHY 575 but in a different topic.
581   A and B. Problems In Teaching College Physics. Three semester hours, nine hours lab per week. Supervised teaching internship through individualized instruction. Graduate teaching assistants are required to take the course each of their first two semesters. Does not count toward basic requirements for the degree. Pass-Fail. Prerequisite: 18 hours of physics.
589*   589* Thesis Research. Grade withheld until completion of thesis.
590*   Thesis Writing. Three to nine semester hours. Prerequisite: PHY 589.
* A student must register for 589 and/or 590 each semester or summer session until the thesis is completed. However, a student may not register the first time for 590 until the thesis proposal has been approved.