College of Arts and Sciences

Physics

Program Options

Physics and Astronomy department web page

The information on this page pertains to program requirements for students who matriculated in the 2022-2023 academic year.  View requirements for previous catalog years here.

Program Overview

The basic physics major is designed for students who are interested in a career in industry, government laboratories and applied science or in further study toward a graduate degree.


B.A. Degree Requirements

This degree is suitable for students who want a rigorous background in physics or astronomy.  It also can be used as the basis for graduate studies and careers in engineering, actuarial science, medicine, law, computer programming and finances.  It can be accompanied by the Biophysics concentration for those students interested in applications of physics to biological systems.  The physics B.A. program is rigorous in Mathematics.

Course Credits
PHY 001 (with lab and discussion) - Introductory Physics 1 4
PHY 002 (with lab and discussion) - Introductory Physics 2 4
PHY 003 - Contemporary Topics in Physics and Astronomy Seminar 1
PHY 021 - Introduction to Methods in Physics 3
PHY 050 - Modern Physics 4
PHY 059 - Advanced Lab I with Error Theory 2
PHY 121 - Theoretical Mechanics 4
PHY 122 - Electromagnetic Theory 4
PHY 191 - Seminar I 1
PHY 192 - Seminar II 1
PHY 197/198 - Research I/II 1
PHY 198 - Physics & Astronomy Capstone 0
Electives - choose at least one from (for 2-4 credit hours):
ASTR 041 - Astronomical Techniques 3
ASTR 185 - Astrophysics I 3
ASTR 186 - Astrophysics II 3
PHY 132 - Medical Biophysics 3
PHY 133 - Electronics 4
PHY 149 - Advanced Lab II 2
PHY 180 - Computational Physics 3
PHY 181 - Quantum Theory 4
PHY 182 - Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics 4
PHY 188 - Advanced Classical Physics 4
Other topical courses occasionally offered depending on interest and faculty availability 3-4
Additional requirements outside the department  
MATH 050 - Calculus I 3
MATH 070 - Calculus II  
MATH 080 - Linear Algebra 3
MATH 100 - Calculus III 3
MATH 110 - Multivariate Calculus 3
MATH 120 - Differential Equations I 3
CHEM 001 - General Chemistry I** 3
CS 065 - Introduction to CS I 3
Total 55

NOTE: Students in the B.A. program must be advised that graduate studies in physics will require more of the advanced courses.

Depending on the student’s career goals, the academic advisor may recommend courses chosen from electives.

Grade Requirements for Graduation

2.0 minimum (C) average is required in all physics-credit courses. In addition, a C is required for Modern Physics, Advanced Lab I with Error Theory, Theoretical Mechanics and Electromagnetic Theory.

* Research Participation:  1 cr (min) of PHY 197 and/or PHY 198 at Drake and/or at least one REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). 

**Students who take General Chemistry I at Drake University must take CHEM 001 with the lab (CHEM 003), as they are co-requisites. Students may seek a waiver from their General Chemistry professor to not take the lab. Students should note that a general chemistry lab is recommended for those pursuing certain pre-professional/career paths.


B.S. Degree Requirements

This degree is suitable for students who want to pursue graduate studies leading to research and academic careers in physics, biophysics or related fields.  It can also be used as the basis for other careers such as engineering, actuarial science, medicine, law, computer programming and finances.  It can be accompanied by the Biophysics concentration for those students interested in applications of physics to biological systems.  The Physics B.S. program is very rigorous in Mathematics.* Research Participation (Capstone):  4 cr (min) of PHY 197 and/or PHY 198 at Drake and/or at least one REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  A paper and an oral presentation are required.

Course Credits
PHY 001 (with lab and discussion) - Introductory Physics 1 4
PHY 002 (with lab and discussion) - Introductory Physics 2 4
PHY 003 - Contemporary Topics in Physics and Astronomy Seminar 1
PHY 021 - Introduction to Methods in Physics 3
PHY 050 - Modern Physics 4
PHY 059 - Advanced Lab I with Error Theory 2
PHY 121 - Theoretical Mechanics 4
PHY 122 - Electromagnetic Theory 4
PHY 133 (with lab) - Electronics 4
PHY 149 - Advanced Lab II 2
PHY 181 - Quantum Theory 4
PHY 182 - Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics 4
PHY 191 - Seminar I 1
PHY 192 - Seminar II 1
PHY 197/198 - Research I/II 2
PHY 199- Physics & Astronomy Capstone 0
Electives - choose at least three from (for at least 9 credit hours):
ASTR 185 - Astrophysics I or ASTR 195 - Astrophysics II or ASTR 041 - Astronomical Techniques 4
PHY 132 - Medical Biophysics 3
PHY 132 - Medical Biophysics 3
PHY 180 - Computational Physics 4
PHY 188 - Advanced Classical Physics 4
Other topical courses occasionally offered depending on interest and faculty availability 3-4
Additional requirements outside the department  
MATH 050 - Calculus I 3
MATH 070 - Calculus II  
MATH 080 - Linear Algebra 3
MATH 100 - Calculus III 3
MATH 110 - Multivariate Calculus 3
MATH 120 - Differential Equations I 3
CHEM 001 - General Chemistry I** 3
CS 065 - Introduction to CS I 3
Total 77

* Research Participation: 2 cr (min) of PHY 197 and/or PHY 198 at Drake and/or at least one REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  

Depending on the student’s career goals, the academic advisor may recommend courses chosen from electives.

**Students who take General Chemistry I at Drake University must take CHEM 001 with the lab (CHEM 003), as they are co-requisites. Students may seek a waiver from their General Chemistry professor to not take the lab. Students should note that a general chemistry lab is recommended for those pursuing certain pre-professional/career paths.

Grade Requirements for Graduation

2.0 minimum (C) average is required in all physics-credit courses.  In addition, a C is required for Modern Physics, Advanced Lab I with Error Theory, Theoretical Mechanics, and Electromagnetic Theory.


 

Applied Physics track

 The Applied Physics track is an optional track for students pursuing the B.S. in Physics. The Applied Physics track requires 45 credit hours in the department with the choice of either “Quantum Theory” or “Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics” instead of both being required. “Computational Physics” is a required choice for this track, along with 1 credit hour of research and 1 topical course. These requirements reflect the needed preparation for applied physics careers or advanced studies, with less focus on theoretical courses and more focus on applied topics.

 

Course

Credits

PHY 001 (with lab and discussion) – Introductory Physics I

4

PHY 002 (with lab and discussion) – Introductory Physics II

4

PHY 003 – Contemporary Topics in Physics and Astronomy Seminar

1

PHY 021 – Introduction to Methods in Physics

3

PHY 050 – Modern Physics

4

PHY 059 – Advanced Lab I with Error Theory

2

PHY 121 – Theoretical Mechanics

4

PHY 122 – Electromagnetic Theory

4

PHY 133 – Electronics

4

PHY 149: Advanced Lab II

2

PHY 180 – Computational Physics

3

PHY 191- Physics Seminar I

1

PHY 192 – Physics Seminar II

1

PHY 197/198 – Research*

1

PHY 199 – Physics and Astronomy Capstone

0

 

 

Choose one of the following:

 

PHY 181 – Quantum Theory

4

PHY 182 – Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

4

 

 

Choose one topical course (for at least 3 credit hours):

 

ASTR 185 – Astrophysics I

3

ASTR 195 – Astrophysics II

3

ASTR 041 – Astronomical Techniques

3

PHY 132 – Medical Biophysics

3

PHY 188 – Advanced Classical Physics

3

**Other topical courses occasionally offered depending on interest and faculty availability.

3-4

 

 

Additional requirements outside the department:

 

MATH 050 – Calculus I

3

MATH 070 – Calculus II

3

MATH 080 – Linear Algebra

3

MATH 100 – Calculus III

3

MATH 110 – Multivariate Calculus

3

MATH 120 – Differential Equations I

3

CHEM 001 – General Chemistry I**

3

CS 065 – Introduction to Computer Science I

3

 

 

Minimum credit hours required for major with track:

69

 

* Research Participation: 1 cr (min) of PHY 197 and/or PHY 198 at Drake and/or at least one REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  

**Students who take General Chemistry I at Drake University must take CHEM 001 with the lab (CHEM 003), as they are co-requisites. Students may seek a waiver from their General Chemistry professor to not take the lab. Students should note that a general chemistry lab is recommended for those pursuing certain pre-professional/career paths.

 

Grade Requirements for Graduation

2.0 minimum (C) average is required in all physics-credit courses.  In addition, a C is required for Modern Physics, Advanced Lab I with Error Theory, Theoretical Mechanics, and Electromagnetic Theory.

 


Physics Minor

The physics minor can complement any degree in the sciences (such as Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry or Environmental Science), liberal arts or professional degrees (such as Pharmacy, Health Sciences, or Education), providing a solid background in scientific knowledge and analytical skills.  The physics minor program requires some mathematics.

Course

Credits

PHY 001 (with lab and discussion) - Introductory Physics I

4

PHY 002 (with lab and discussion) -– Introductory Physics II

4

PHY 003 - Contemporary Topics in Physics and Astronomy Seminar

1

PHY 021 – Introduction to Methods in Physics

3

PHY 050 - Modern Physics

4

PHY 059 - Advanced Lab I with Error Theory

2

PHY 191 - Seminar I

1

MATH 050 – Calculus I

3

MATH 070 – Calculus II

3

MATH 100 – Calculus III

3

CS 065 – Introduction to CS I

3

TOTAL

31

Grade Requirements for Graduation

2.0 minimum (C) average is required in all physics-credit courses.

NOTE: There is no minor in Astronomy.  Interested students can select a minor in Physics and also take Astronomy I with laboratory.


PRE-ENGINEERING TRACK with Washington University and Physics

These are dual-degree Drake University majors of the student’s choice and engineering programs offered at Washington University. Students interested in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering are strongly recommended to be a Drake physics major due to the supportive and foundational knowledge gained for their engineering interests. However, physics majors can pursue any engineering program at Washington University. Students can pursue undergraduate and/or master’s degrees in engineering at Washington University once they are accepted to Washington University’s program.

More information on the accelerated track can be found here

The information in this catalog does not constitute a contract between the university and the student. The university reserves the right to make changes in curricula, admission policies and processes, tuition and financial aid, academic standards and guidelines, student services and any other regulations or policies set forth in this catalog without giving prior notice.