Degree Information

Why ISU for a degree in Physics?

In the Physics Department, all courses are taught by professors, not graduate students. We concentrate exclusively on undergraduates. Our 10:1 student faculty ratio and supportive environment ensure that majors have all the faculty attention they need. The Program also has an exceptionally modern thrust. For example, the Undergraduate Computational Science Laboratory was established with the generous support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was recieved two awards from the U.S. Department of Energy for making "superior contributions to the field of computational science education." The department is also an innovator in undergraduate research, offering many forefront research opportunities for students to learn how science and engineering are done in the real world, not just in the the classroom. Experiences such as these are among many opportunities our graduates have to gain a competitive edge in the job market. To download a Physics Major brochure, please click here.

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Faculty and Students

Members of the faculty hold Ph.D.'s from many of the nation's leading universities. Each is a dedicated teacher and scholar, publishing their results in the nation's top physics journals. Our faculty have often been honored by professional and academic physics societies, including the American Physical Society, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, and NASA. The Department has a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, and does not award graduate degrees. This means that all classes are taught by professors and undergraduate students receive all the faculty attention and support that they need.

The Department serves nearly 120 majors in its physics, computer physics, physics teaching, and engineering physics programs. More than half are from the top quarter of their high school class. The mean ACT composite score is above 27. The lack of graduate students opens up numerous opportunities for undergraduate students in research, employment, and scholarships. Students may apply for employment as research assistants, lab graders and proctors, computer programmers, and planetarium assistants, or they may apply to assist faculty in professional research in the areas of laser physics, nanoscience, space physics, nonlinear systems, and atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics. Faculty regularly obtain grants from major national agencies such as NSF, NASA, and DOE that support our undergraduate researchers with paid stipends.

Our Facilities

Majors have the benefit of excellent computational facilities in the Physics Department. Students make extensive use of the system from three computer labs reserved exclusively for physics majors. Our scientific visulaization lab allows state-of-the-art three-dimensional stereo visualization of large data sets and supports our undergradaute research students working on projects ranging from large-scale computer simulations, to spacecraft and laboratory data analysis. A cluster of unix-based workstations from SGI, IBM, HP, and Apple give physics students access to all the computer power they need for courses and projects.

The Department is also proud of its experimental facilities. Well-equipped laboratories and a high degree of individualized instruction make the electronics and experimental physics courses an exciting component of the degree program. Advance lab (PHY 270) students regularly design and build their own experiments with assistance from the physic sdepartment shop. We also have five experimental research labs which involve students in projects in materials science and nanotechnology, fundamental atomic measurements, bio-optical engieering, and studies of nonlinear chaotic systems.