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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017


College of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences
1120 John S. Toll Physics Building, 301-405-5979
Chair: S. Rolston (Prof)
Professors: S. Anlage (Dist Scholar-Teacher), T. Antonsen, A. Baden, J. Banavar (Prof And Dean), P. Bedaque, E. Beise (Dist Scholar-Teacher), A. Buonanno (College Park Professor), T. Cohen (Dist Scholar-Teacher), S. DasSarma (Dist Univ Prof, Dist Faculty Research Fellow), W. Dorland (Dist Scholar-Teacher), J. Drake (Dist Univ Prof), T. Einstein, S. Eno (Dist Scholar-Teacher), V. Galitski, S. Gates (Regents Prof, Dist Univ Prof, Dist Scholar-Teacher, Toll Chair), J. Goodman (Dist Univ Prof, Dist Scholar-Teacher), R. Greene, N. Hadley, A. Hassam, K. Hoffman (Assoc Chair), B. Hu, T. Jacobson (Dist Scholar-Teacher), C. Jarzynski (Dist Univ Prof), A. Jawahery (Dist Univ Prof), X. Ji, T. Kirkpatrick, D. Lathrop, C. Lobb (Dist Scholar-Teacher), W. Losert, J. Mather ( College Park Prof, Nobel Laureate), H. Milchberg (Dist Scholar-Teacher), R. Mohapatra (Dist Scholar-Teacher), C. Monroe (Dist Univ Prof), L. Orozco, E. Ott (Dist Univ Prof), J. Paglione, K. Papadopoulos, W. Phillips (Dist Univ Prof, Nobel Laureate), E. Redish (Dist Scholar-Teacher), R. Roy, E. Seo, A. Skuja, P. Sprangle, G. Sullivan, R. Sundrum (Dist Univ Prof, Toll Chair), F. Wellstood, E. Williams (Dist Univ Prof, Dist Faculty Research Fellow), V. Yakovenko
Associate Professors: K. Agashe, I. Appelbaum, Z. Chacko, M. Girvan, C. Hall, K. Kim, M. Ouyang, D. Roberts, P. Shawhan, A. Upadhyaya
Assistant Professors: M. Barkeshli, A. Belloni, V. Manucharyan, J. McKinney, J. Sau, J. Williams
Senior Lecturer: D. Buehrle (Senior Lecturer)
Lecturers: S. Picozzi
Affiliate Professors: W. Hill, P. O'Shea (Dist Scholar-Teacher), G. Oehrlein, R. Phaneuf, I. Takeuchi, J. Weeks (Dist University Professor)
Affiliate Associate Professors: J. Aranda-Espinoza, A. Childs, J. Cumings, A. Elby, E. Waks
Affiliate Assistant Professors: M. Hafezi, M. Leite, Y. Mo, J. Munday, E. Rodriguez
Adjunct Professors: G. Bryant, C. Clark, P. Julienne, P. Lett, J. Lynn, A. Migdall, S. Moseley, J. Porto, G. Solomon, I. Spielman, E. Tiesinga, R. Tycko, C. Williams
Adjunct Associate Professors: G. Campbell, J. McEnery, K. Osborn, B. Palmer, J. Taylor
Adjunct Assistant Professors: N. Butch, A. Gorshkov, H. Shroff, K. Tanner
Research Scientist: F. Ipavich, B. Kane (Sr Res Sci), R. Kellogg, M. Moody
Associate Research Scientist: E. Blaufuss, H. Breuer, A. Smith
Assistant Research Scientist: M. Cetina, K. Hudek, G. Jenkins, N. Klimov, P. Li, J. Mizrahi, K. Nakahara, Y. Pan, X. Shao, A. Sushkov, M. Tonjes (Lecturer), R. Vispute
Associate Research Professor: A. Smith
Assistant Research Professor: A. Gupta, S. Jabeen (Lecturer)
Professors Emeriti: J. Anderson, S. Bhagat, D. Boyd, D. Brill, G. C. Chang, C. Chang, N. Chant, D. Currie, A. DeSilva, J. Dorfman, A. Dragt (Sr Res Sci), H. Drew (Res Prof), R. Ellis, D. Falk, M. Fisher (Dist Univ Prof Emeritus), A. Glick, G. Gloeckler (Dist Univ Prof Emeritus), G. Goldenbaum, O. Greenberg (Res Prof), H. Griem, J. Griffin, D. Hamilton (Res Prof), H. Holmgren, C. Kacser (Assoc Prof Emeritus), Y. Kim, V. Korenman, D. Langenberg (Chancellor Emeritus), J. Layman, C. Liu (Res Prof), G. Mason, C. Misner, H. Paik (Res Prof), R. Park, J. Pati, J. Richard, P. Roos, R. Sagdeev (Dist Univ Prof), J. Sucher, S. Wallace (Res Prof), J. Yorke (Dist Univ Prof Emeritus, Res Prof)
Visiting Faculty: C. Alvarez Ochoa, D. Berley, S. Bludman, K. Dienes, C. Doran, G. Dudnikova, R. Ellsworth, T. Ferbel, K. Gebbie, T. Hubsch, J. Kogut, G. Lubkin, J. Nico, S. Nussinov, V. Rodgers, I. Rothstein, L. Schmid, R. Sinclair, J. Starr, J. Su, S. Tonwar (Lecturer), G. Yodh

The Major

Physics is an exciting and rewarding field of study. Physicists make important discoveries that often change the way we live by examining the way things work, and there are still many discoveries to be made.

At Maryland, physics majors benefit from small class-sizes, outstanding teachers and very talented classmates. However, we believe that the most important physics education occurs outside the classroom, and we encourage all of our majors to participate in cutting-edge research with our internationally recognized faculty. Through participation in research projects, our students learn what it takes to conduct world-class scientific research. Whether students decide to continue to study physics in graduate school or work in fields such as engineering, software development, law, business or education, a bachelor's degree in physics from Maryland provides an excellent foundation.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to fully engage with the curriculum and the opportunities presented for learning and research. Having completed the degree program, students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  1. A thorough knowledge of the core areas of physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal physics, and quantum mechanics at a level compatible with admission to graduate programs in physics at peer institutions.
  2. The ability to analyze and interpret quantitative results, both in the core areas of physics and in complex problems that cross multiple core areas.
  3. An ability to assess and solve unfamiliar problems in physics using the knowledge and skills acquired.
  4. The ability to use contemporary experimental apparatus common to the study of physical phenomena, and have the ability to acquire, analyze and interpret scientific data.
  5. The ability to communicate scientific results effectively, both verbally and in writing.

Requirements for the Major

  Courses required for Physics Major:    
 Lower-level courses for all areas of concentration:    
PHYS165* Introduction to Programming for the Physical Sciences 3  
PHYS171 Introductory Physics: Mechanics  3  
PHYS174Physics Laboratory Introduction 1  
PHYS272 Introductory Physics: Fields  3  
PHYS273Introductory Physics: Waves 3  
PHYS274 Mathematical Methods for Physics I 3  
PHYS275 Experimental Physics I: Mechanics, Heat, and Fields  2  
PHYS276Experimental Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 2  
MATH140Calculus I 4  
MATH141Calculus II 4  
MATH241Calculus III 4  
 Upper-level courses for Professional Physics area of concentration:    
PHYS371Modern Physics 3  
PHYS373Mathematical Methods for Physics II 3  
PHYS375 Experimental Physics III: EM Waves, Optics, and Modern Physics  3  
PHYS401Quantum Physics I 4  
PHYS402Quantum Physics II 4  
PHYS404Introduction to Statistical Mechanics 3  
PHYS405**Advanced Experiments 3  
PHYS410Classical Mechanics 4  
PHYS411Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism 4  
PHYS4xx**Advanced Physics Elective 3  
PHYS4xyAdvanced Physics Elective 3  

*Students with prior programming experience may take an upper-level, computational physics course instead of PHYS165.  This advanced course may be used for an Advanced Physics Elective as well.

**PHYS405 in the Professional Physics area of concentration may be replaced by the following two course sequence:

PHYS499A  Special Problems in Physics  1-6

PHYS407    Professional Physics Experimental Research  3             

*** Students completing a second major from a CMNS or Engineering department may use an upper-level course from that program in place of one of the Advanced Physics Electives.

  Upper-level and supporting courses for Education Physics area of concentration:  
EDPS301Foundations of Education 3  
EDHD413Adolescent Development 3  
EDHD426Cognitive and Motivational Basis of Reading: Reading in Content Areas    
EDCI463Teaching Reading in Content Area II 3  
PHYS374Intermediate Theoretical Methods 4  
PHYS411Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism 4  
PHYS401 Quantum Physics I  4  
PHYS375Experimental Physics III: Electromagnetic Waves, Optics 3  

In the Education Physics area of concentration: PHYS401 may be replaced by PHYS420 - Principles of Modern Physics (3). PHYS375 may be replaced by one additional non-seminar 400-level approved Physics course of 3-4 credits.

Students who are considering pursuing the Education Physics area of concentration are encouraged to enroll in EDCI280-Introduction to Teaching, for a survey of education and teaching. The Education Physics area of concentration is designed to accommodate students obtaining a teaching certificate through the College of Education. However, completing all the courses in the Education Physics area of concentration does not in itself satisfy all requirements for obtaining a teaching certificate. Students pursuing the Education Physics area of concentration who want to also obtain a teaching certificate in secondary education must first apply and be admitted to the Secondary Education Program in the College of Education and then complete additional courses in that program.

Other Requirements for the Major

Students must complete all courses required for the major with a grade of "C-" or higher.

Requirements for the Minor

This minor provides a rigorous foundation in physics for students who choose not to complete the entire physics major. The minor begins with a set of two introductory courses (6 credits) in electromagnetic fields (PHYS262 or PHYS272) and waves (PHYS263 or PHYS273). As part of this introduction to Physics, the minor also requires a one-credit introductory physics laboratory (PHYS174, PHYS261, or PHYS271) involving techniques of data gathering and analysis. To obtain a deeper understanding of physics, the minor requires three additional upper-level courses (3-4 credits each), which students can select from the list below.

  • Other upper level Physics courses can be substituted only with approval from the Department's undergraduate director and the Faculty Minor Advisor.
  • All courses must be completed with a grade of "C-" or better to be counted towards the minor.
  • No more than 7 credits in this minor can count toward major requirements. Students with more than 7 credits of overlap must substitute non-overlapping 300 or 400 level courses from the above list to reduce the overlap to no more than 7 credits.
  • Physics majors and students majoring in Astronomy are not eligible to complete the Physics Minor due to the large number of overlapping course requirements.
  Courses required for the minor  7
 One from:  
PHYS174Physics Laboratory Introduction 1
PHYS261General Physics: Vibrations, Waves, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism: Laboratory 1
PHYS271General Physics: Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics: Laboratory 1
 One from:  
PHYS272Introductory Physics: Fields 3
PHYS260General Physics: Vibrations, Waves, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism 3
 One from:  
PHYS273Introductory Physics: Waves 3
PHYS270General Physics: Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics 3
 Three from the following:  9-12
PHYS373Mathematical Methods for Physics II 3
PHYS375Experimental Physics III: EM Waves, Optics & Modern Physics 3
PHYS401 Quantum Physics I  4
PHYS402 Quantum Physics II  4
PHYS404Introductory Statistical Thermodynamics 3
PHYS410Classical Mechanics 4
PHYS411Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism 4
PHYS465Modern Optics 3
PHYS474Computational Physics 3

MATH140 (4 credits), MATH141 (4 credits), MATH241 (4 credits), MATH240 (4 credits), MATH246 (3 credits), and Physics161 (or Physics171) (3 credits) are prerequisites for some of the courses in this program.

Students interested in earning a minor in physics should contact the undergraduate advisor for the Physics Department:

1120F John S. Toll Physics Building; 301-405-5979
email: phys-ugradinfo@physics.umd.edu

Note: At the beginning of the semester in which graduation is intended, a student should make an appointment with the Physics Department's Undergraduate Advisor to fill out the appropriate paperwork.


Advising for undergraduates is available throughout the year in Room 1120 PHY. For early registration, advising is mandatory; students should check Testudo for their early registration date and email ugrad@physics.umd.edu for information about advising appointments. Students who have been away more than two years may find that due to curriculum changes the courses they have taken may no longer be adequate preparation for the courses required to complete the major. Students in this situation must meet with the Departmental Advisor to make appropriate plans.

Honors Program

Departmental Honors in Physics

The Departmental Honors Program in Physics was established to recognize and encourage independent and creative scholarship in physics by providing superior undergraduate physics majors the opportunity for advanced and intensive study. The central component of departmental honors in physics is participation in undergraduate research. To earn high honors in physics, students must produce and defend an honors thesis/document based on their own research. The committee's decision whether to award high honors will be based on the quality of the thesis and defense. To earn honors in physics, the student must pass an oral exam probing the depth of their understanding of physics from their courses and research involvement or complete an approved graduate level PHYS course with a grade of B or higher.

Requirements for Graduation with Departmental Honors in Physics

  1. Complete at least three credit hours of a Physics Honors version course.
  2. Have earned a 3.00 or higher overall GPA and a 3.30 or higher GPA for all physics major required courses at graduation time.
  3. Complete one of the following research courses PHYS 386 (Physics experimental Learning), PHYS 389 (Undergraduate Thesis Research), PHYS 399 or PHYS 499 (Independent Study).
  4. For High Honors, students must complete a research project with a Physics faculty member and defend a senior thesis or paper based on their original research. A student's defense committee should include the following people: the student's research mentor, the chair of the Physics Honors Program, and an additional Physics faculty member.
  5. For "regular" Honors, students must either pass an oral exam given by a committee of at least two Physics faculty members or complete an approved, graduate level PHYS course with a grade of B or higher.

Note: Students who do not meet the criteria in items 1) and 2) above may submit an appeal to the Physics Honors Committee. The Physics Honors Committee may use other considerations (instructor evaluations, research activity, etc.) to award the Honors citation. Students who do not meet the criteria and are not awarded a departmental honors citation will not receive any negative record regarding the Physics Honors Program on any official document.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

Society of Physics Students (SPS); Sigma Pi Sigma

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: www.financialaid.umd.edu .  Departmental scholarships for undergraduates in Physics include the following:

Angelo Bardasis Memorial Scholarship

Joseph Helfand Memorial Scholarship in Physics

Professor William M. MacDonald Physics Scholarship

Physics PALS Scholarship

University of Maryland Department of Physics NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Awards and Recognition

Jerry B. Marion Award

IPST Monroe Martin Prize for Undergraduate Research in Physics

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