Physics

Major: Physics
Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 180.0
Co-op Options: Three Co-op (Five years); No Co-op (Four years)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-2012

About the Program

Drexel's undergraduate program provides a solid foundation in physics suitable for graduate study or to branch out into other scientific or technical disciplines. The physics program offers an innovative curriculum in a top-notch learning environment: small class sizes, personal input from faculty, and close interaction with researchers who are leaders in their fields. Students explore the span of universal phenomenon—from the farthest reaches of astrophysics and cosmology, to molecular biophysics and subatomic particle physics— providing a solid foundation for continued study and exploration. Most undergraduates actively participate in research projects, including co-authoring publications and presenting results at conferences.

Virtually every course in the physics major is designed to extend the students' ability to handle real-world problems solved by state-of-the-art techniques. An important feature of the program is the large number of electives, which allow a student to pursue topics of special interest. There are numerous elective courses in areas as diverse as biophysics and cosmology, nanoscience and particle physics. Students can also choose electives to meet teacher certification requirements.

The Laboratory for High-Performance Computational Physics is a venue for students to become proficient in numerical techniques, parallel processing, electronic communication, and the basic computer languages and software relevant to advanced studies and research in physics.

The Department of Physics conducts a broad array of outreach activities including the Kaczmarczik Lecture Series, public observing nights at the Lynch Observatory, and demonstrations in grade school performed by the Drexel Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the Women in Physics Society (WiPS).

In addition to the physics major, the Department also offers a minor in physics as well as a minor in astrophysics and a minor in biophysics.

The Physics Department is dedicated to equity and inclusiveness, and strives to be a welcoming environment to students of all races, backgrounds, genders, and orientations.

Degree Requirements

Core Physics Requirements
PHYS 105Computational Physics I3.0
PHYS 113Contemporary Physics I5.0
PHYS 114Contemporary Physics II5.0
PHYS 115Contemporary Physics III5.0
PHYS 128Introduction to Experimental Physics3.0
PHYS 217Thermodynamics4.0
PHYS 311Classical Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 317Statistical Mechanics3.0
PHYS 321Electromagnetic Fields I4.0
PHYS 322Electromagnetic Fields II4.0
PHYS 326Quantum Mechanics I4.0
PHYS 327Quantum Mechanics II4.0
PHYS 328 [WI] Advanced Laboratory3.0
PHYS 491Senior Research I3.0
PHYS 492Senior Research II3.0
PHYS 493 [WI] Senior Research III3.0
PHYS 408Physics Seminar (To be taken 3 times.)3.0
Method Classes: Complete 12.0 credits from the following *12.0
Complex Variables
Partial Differential Equations
Abstract Algebra I
Elements of Modern Analysis I
Introduction to Scientific Computing
Instrumentation for Scientists I
Instrumentation for Scientists II
Observational Astrophysics
Computational Physics II
Topics in Mathematical Physics
Computational Physics III
Advanced Computational Physics
Big Data Physics
Subject Courses: Complete 15.0 credits from the following: **15.0
Colloquium II (Special Relativity )
Introductory Astrophysics
Introduction to Relativity
Introduction to Biophysics
Introduction to Nuclear Physics
Classical Mechanics II
Quantum Mechanics III
Galactic Astrophysics
Cosmology
Solid State Physics
Nanoscience
Biophysics
Computational Biophysics
Particle Physics
Math and Technical Requirements
MATH 121Calculus I4.0
MATH 122Calculus II4.0
MATH 200Multivariate Calculus4.0
MATH 201Linear Algebra3.0-4.0
or MATH 261 Linear Algebra
MATH 210Differential Equations4.0
MATH 291Complex and Vector Analysis for Engineers4.0
Sciences
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CHEM 103 OR Any Bio OR an ENGR class at 200 or higher3.0-5.0
CS 171Computer Programming I3.0
or CS 143 Computer Programming Fundamentals
General Education
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
or ENGL 111 English Composition I
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
or ENGL 112 English Composition II
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
or ENGL 113 English Composition III
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers (For students pursuing graduate degree only.) Students who are not required to take this course will take an additional credit of free elective.1.0
COOP 101Career Management and Professional Development1.0
Liberal electives9.0
Technical elective ***3.0
Business elective4.0
Free electives24.0
Total Credits180.0-183.0

Writing-Intensive Course Requirements

In order to graduate, all students must pass three writing-intensive courses after their freshman year. Two writing-intensive courses must be in a student's major. The third can be in any discipline. Students are advised to take one writing-intensive class each year, beginning with the sophomore year, and to avoid “clustering” these courses near the end of their matriculation. Transfer students need to meet with an academic advisor to review the number of writing-intensive courses required to graduate.

A "WI" next to a course in this catalog may indicate that this course can fulfill a writing-intensive requirement. For the most up-to-date list of writing-intensive courses being offered, students should check the Writing Intensive Course List at the University Writing Program. Students scheduling their courses can also conduct a search for courses with the attribute "WI" to bring up a list of all writing-intensive courses available that term.

Sample Plan of Study

4 year, no co-op

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
ENGL 101 or 1113.0CIVC 1011.0ENGL 103 or 1133.0VACATION
MATH 1214.0CS 1433.0MATH 2004.0 
PHYS 1135.0ENGL 102 or 1123.0PHYS 1053.0 
PHYS 1283.0MATH 1224.0PHYS 1155.0 
UNIV S1011.0PHYS 1145.0  
 16 16 15 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
CHEM 1013.5CHEM 1024.5PHYS 3264.0VACATION
MATH 201 or 2614.0MATH 2104.0One of the following:3.0-5.0 
MATH 2914.0PHYS 3114.0 
PHYS 2174.0Subject course*3.0
Any Biology (BIO) course
 
  
Any ENGR course 200-level or higher
 
  Method course**3.0 
  Free elective3.0 
 15.5 15.5 13-15 0
Third Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PHYS 3173.0PHYS 3214.0PHYS 3224.0VACATION
PHYS 3274.0Subject courses*6.0PHYS 3283.0 
Method course**3.0Technical elective3.0Method course**3.0 
Free elective3.0Free elective3.0Liberal Studies elective3.0 
Liberal Studies elective3.0 Free elective3.0 
 16 16 16 0
Fourth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCredits 
PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0 
PHYS 4913.0PHYS 4923.0PHYS 4933.0 
UNIV S201***1.0Subject course*3.0Method course**3.0 
Subject Course*3.0Free electives6.0Free electives6.0 
Liberal Studies elective3.0   
Business Elective4.0   
 15 13 13 
Total Credits 180-182

4 year, 1 co-op

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
ENGL 101 or 1113.0CIVC 1011.0COOP 101*1.0VACATION
MATH 1214.0CS 1433.0ENGL 103 or 1133.0 
PHYS 1135.0ENGL 102 or 1123.0MATH 2004.0 
PHYS 1283.0MATH 1224.0PHYS 1053.0 
UNIV S1011.0PHYS 1145.0PHYS 1155.0 
 16 16 16 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
CHEM 1013.5CHEM 1024.5PHYS 3264.0PHYS 3173.0
MATH 201 or 2613.0-4.0MATH 2104.0One of the following:3.0-5.0PHYS 3274.0
MATH 2914.0PHYS 3114.0Method course***3.0
PHYS 2174.0Subject course**3.0
Any Biology (BIO) course
Free elective3.0
  
Any ENGR course 200-level or higher
Liberal studies elective3.0
  Method course***3.0 
  Free elective3.0 
 14.5-15.5 15.5 13-15 16
Third Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PHYS 3214.0PHYS 3224.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
Two subject courses**6.0PHYS 3283.0  
Technical elective3.0Method course***3.0  
Free elective3.0Liberal Studies elective3.0  
 Free elective3.0  
 16 16 0 0
Fourth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCredits 
PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0 
PHYS 4913.0PHYS 4923.0PHYS 4933.0 
UNIV S2011.0Subject course**3.0Method course***3.0 
Subject course**3.0Free electives6.0Free electives6.0 
Liberal Studies elective3.0   
Business elective4.0   
 15 13 13 
Total Credits 180-183

5 year, 3 co-op

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
ENGL 101 or 1113.0CIVC 1011.0COOP 101*1.0VACATION
MATH 1214.0CS 1433.0ENGL 103 or 1133.0 
PHYS 1135.0ENGL 102 or 1123.0MATH 2004.0 
PHYS 1283.0MATH 1224.0PHYS 1053.0 
UNIV S1011.0PHYS 1145.0PHYS 1155.0 
 16 16 16 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
CHEM 1013.5CHEM 1024.5COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
MATH 201 or 2613.0-4.0MATH 2104.0  
MATH 2914.0PHYS 3114.0  
PHYS 2174.0Subject course**3.0  
 14.5-15.5 15.5 0 0
Third Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PHYS 3264.0PHYS 3173.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
One of the following:3.0-5.0PHYS 3274.0  
Method course***3.0  
Any Biology (BIO) course
Free elective3.0  
Any ENGR course 200-level or higher
Liberal Studies elective3.0  
Method course***3.0   
Free elective3.0   
 13-15 16 0 0
Fourth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PHYS 3214.0PHYS 3224.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
Two subject courses**6.0PHYS 3283.0  
Technical elective3.0Method course***3.0  
Free elective3.0Liberal Studies elective3.0  
 Free elective3.0  
 16 16 0 0
Fifth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCredits 
PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0PHYS 4081.0 
PHYS 4913.0PHYS 4923.0PHYS 4933.0 
UNIV S2011.0Subject course**3.0Method course***3.0 
Subject course**3.0Free electives6.0Free electives6.0 
Liberal Studies elective3.0   
Business elective4.0   
 15 13 13 
Total Credits 180-183

Co-op/Career Opportunities

Students who complete a degree in physics have many options. Some enter graduate school with the intention of obtaining a master’s or a PhD. Others attend medical school. Engineering is yet another option, and graduates of an undergraduate physics program can enter this field with an unusually solid background in fundamental physical principles, mathematics, and computation. It is also possible for physics graduates to work in business and finance; for example, Wall Street employs many analysts trained in such “hard sciences” as physics.
Many Drexel physics graduates proceed directly into graduate schools, or medical or other professional programs. Physics graduates have attended some of the best graduate programs in the United States, including Columbia, Harvard, and CalTech. Other graduates have found jobs in engineering and business, and with such government agencies as the National Bureau of Standards.

Co-op employers for physics majors include:

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Princeton Plasma Physics
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Harvard University
  • MIT
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Brandywine Photonics
  • National Board of Medical Examiners
  • Philadelphia Water Department
  • C. & J. Nyheim Plasma Institute
  • II-VI Optical Systems
  • Comcast Corporation


Visit the Drexel Steinbright Career Development Center for more detailed information on co-op and post-graduate opportunities.

Facilities

Astrophysics Facilities:

  • The Numerical Astrophysics Facility emphasizes theoretical and numerical studies of stars, star formation, planetary systems, star clusters, galaxy distributions, cosmological modeling, gravitational lensing, and the early universe. The facility employs a high-performance Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) compute cluster, each node containing two 6-core, 2.7 GHz Intel Xeon CPUs and 96 Gbytes of RAM, accelerated by 4–6 Nvidia Fermi/Titan GPUs, and connected by QDR infiniband, affording computational speeds of up to 50 trillion floating point operations per second.
  • The Joseph R. Lynch Observatory houses a 16-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with an SBIG CCD camera. 
  • Drexel is an institutional member of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) that will be conducted with the Simonyi Survey Telescope at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Chile as a joint project of the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.  Faculty and students are developing LSST-related machine learning tools and analyzing simulated LSST data to prepare for "first light" in 2022.

Biophysics Facilities:

  • Bio-manipulation and microscopy laboratories. Four optical tables and six research grade microscopes are configured to perform microscopic spectroscopy and manipulation on solutions and individual cells. A spatial light modulator allows spatial patterns to be encoded on samples and explored; all microscopes are temperature controlled with state of the art cameras, including a 2,000 frame per second high speed system. Each optical table is also equipped with high power lasers for photolysis or fluorescence spectroscopy.
  • Wet lab for studies of proteins and biomimetic lipids, and protein purification and characterization. The laboratory has a variety of chromatographic equipment, large and small centrifuges, fume hood, a spectrophotometer and a spectrofluorimeter. In addition, the laboratory houses a small microfluidic fabrication facility.
  • The Computational Biophysics facility also includes: (i) a Beowulf cluster with 46 dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU (736 cores) and 12Gb of RAM nodes plus a master with 1Tb of storage and 24Gb of RAM, (ii) a Beowulf cluster with 44 dual-core Xeon CPU (344 cores),(iii) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 24Gb RAM and 3Tb disk with two Tesla C2050 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (iv) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 8Gb RAM and 4Tb disk with an NVIDIA N280 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (v) a quad 8-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 128Gb RAM and 16Tb total disk, (vi) a 72Tb file server with 12Gb RAM, (vii) a 96Tb quad 6-core file server with 64Gb RAM, (viii) and several Linux workstations connected through a gigabit network.

Condensed Matter Physics Research Facilities:

  • The Energy Materials Research Laboratory includes a Variable Temperature UHV Scanning Probe Microscope for studies of 2D correlated electron materials and quantum systems.
  • Ultrafast Structural Dynamics Laboratory includes a transient electron diffraction setup with sub-picosecond temporal resolution used in studies of quantum materials.
  • Single crystal growth laboratory utilizes different techniques for growing high quality single crystals of strongly correlated materials including dichalcogenides.
  • The Magnetic Material Laboratory conducts research on amorphous magnetic thin films and fiber optical sensors.
  • The Surface Science Laboratory has several scanning probe microscopy setups to study surface structure interfaces at the atomic level.
  • The Ultra-Low Temperature Laboratory has a cryogenic dilution refrigerator and microwave sources and detectors to study quantum phenomena in nano- and microscale devices, superconducting qubits, nanostructures, and quantum fluids and solids.
  • The Mesoscale Materials Laboratory investigates light-matter interactions and the extent and effects of ordering of lattice, charge and spin degrees of freedom on electronic phases and functional properties in solids, with an emphasis on bulk and epitaxial film complex oxides. Facilities include instrumentation for pulsed laser deposition of epitaxial complex oxide films, atomic layer deposition, variable-temperature characterization of carrier transport (DC to 20 GHz), and a laser spectroscopy lab enabling high-resolution Raman scattering spectroscopy at temperatures to 1.5 K and under magnetic field to 7 T.
  • Condensed Matter Physics group has active collaborations with DOE Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago (visiting faculty Dr. Valentyn Novosad) with numerous experimental capabilities available at the Materials Science Division and Center for Nanoscale Materials. Graduates students in experimental condensed matter physics have an opportunity to conduct part or all of their thesis research at Argonne as part of collaborative projects with the research groups there.
  • Local high performance computing facility.
  • The Experimental Condensed Matter group is actively utilizing local user facilities at Drexel (Core Research Facilities (http://crf.coe.drexel.edu), University of Pennsylvania (Singh Center for Nanotechnology (https://www.nano.upenn.edu), and Temple University (Science and Education and Research Center (https://cst.temple.edu/research/SERC)  to access top of the line instrumentation for nanoscale fabrication and characterization of materials.
  • Faculty in Condensed Matter Physics thrust participate in several large-scale collaborations such as Energy Frontier Research Center (DOE EFRC--CCM), detector development for South Pole Telescope Collaboration and others.

Particle Physics Facilities:

  • The Drexel Particle Physics Group researches fundamental neutrino properties with the DUNE long baseline experiment hosted by Fermilab and the PROSPECT short baseline reactor experiment, as well as the planned nEXO neutrinoless double beta decay experiment.
  • We are also active in the IceCube neutrino telescope located at the geographic South Pole.
  • The Bubble Chamber Laboratory develops superheated-liquid detectors for rare-interaction searches, including the PICO dark matter experiment located at SNOLAB in Canada.

Laboratory for High-Performance Computational Physics:

  • In addition to the department computing cluster (15 Linux workstations), high-performance computing resources include a dual-processor server with two Xeon E5-2650 processors (16 cores), 128 GB of RAM, and two Xeon Phi P5110 co-processor cards (480 cores). Department researchers also have access to a cluster of 18 Dell PowerEdge C6145  servers (AMD Opteron 6378 Piledriver CPU's, 64 cores/server, 256 GB RAM/server) with a total of 1152 cores and 4.5TB RAM.

Physics Faculty

Alexey Aprelev, PhD (St Petersburg State University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Experimental biophysics.
Eric Brewe, PhD (Arizona State University). Associate Professor. Physics Education Research, introductory course reform, network analysis in learning, neuromechanisms of learning.
Luis R. Cruz Cruz, PhD (MIT). Associate Professor. Computational studies of confinement effects on the folding of amyloidogenic proteins, spatial correlations of neurons in the brain, firing dynamics of neuronal networks, fluid flow through porous media.
N. John DiNardo, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor. Physics education research, surface physics, condensed matter physics, materials science.
Michelle Dolinski, PhD (University of California, Berkeley) Associate Dean of Graduate Education. Associate Professor. Neutrino physics, rare nuclear decays, cryogenic detector technologies.
Frank A. Ferrone, PhD (Princeton University). Professor. Experimental and theoretical protein dynamics, kinetics of biological self-assembly, including sickle cell and Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell testing and diagnostic devices.
David M. Goldberg, PhD (Princeton University) Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies. Professor. Theoretical and computational cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics, gravitational lensing.
Goran Karapetrov, PhD (Oregon State University). Professor. Experimental solid state physics, scanning probe microscopy, nanoscale catalysis, mesoscopic superconductivity.
Rachael M. Kratzer, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei
Charles Lane, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor. Experimental tests of invariance principles and conservation laws, neutrino oscillations and properties.
Christina Love, PhD (Temple University). Associate Teaching Professor. Educational methods and technology, STEM education, science literacy and outreach, particle physics, astrophysics.
Stephen L. W. McMillan, PhD (Harvard University) Department Head. Professor. Stellar dynamics, large-scale computations of stellar systems, and high-performance special-purpose computers.
Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Associate Professor. Neutrino physics, high energy astro-particle physics.
Russell Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Associate Professor. Dark matter, neutrino physics.
Gordon Richards, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei, supermassive black holes, galaxy evolution, sky surveys, infrared/X-ray/radio astronomy
Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD (Columbia University) Department Head, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Professor. Light-matter interactions in electronic materials, including ferroelectric semiconductors, complex oxide thin film science; laser spectroscopy, including Raman scattering.
Somdev Tyagi, PhD (Brigham Young University) Associate Head of Non-Major Studies in Physics. Professor. Nanobiophysics, Raman spectroscopy, magnetic materials.
Brigita Urbanc, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. Professor. Computational and experimental biophysics of protein folding and assembly, relevant to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease; discrete molecular dynamics of coarse-grained protein and lipid models.
Jörn Venderbos, PhD (Leiden University). Assistant Professor. Theory of quantum materials: topological Insulators, topological semimetals, materials prediction and design, strongly correlated electron materials, complex electronic ordering phenomena, unconventional superconductors
Michael Vogeley, PhD (Harvard University) Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. Professor. Cosmology; galaxy formation and evolution; statistical analysis of large data sets; active galactic nuclei.

Emeritus Faculty

Shyamalendu Bose, PhD (University of Maryland). Professor Emeritus.
Leonard D. Cohen, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emeritus.
Leonard X. Finegold, PhD (University of London). Professor Emeritus.
Robert Gilmore, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Richard D. Haracz, PhD (Wayne State University). Professor Emeritus.
Frederick House, PhD (University of Wisconsin). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur P. Joblin, PhD (Drexel University). Professor Emeritus.
Donald C. Larson, PhD (Harvard University). Professor Emeritus.
Teck-Kah Lim, PhD (University of Adelaide). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur E. Lord, PhD (Columbia University). Professor Emeritus.
James McCray, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Richard I Steinberg, PhD (Yale University). Professor Emeritus.
T. S. Venkataraman, PhD (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Professor Emeritus.
Jian-Min Yuan, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor Emeritus.
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