Courses and Degree Requirements

A complete listing of undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy is given on the Departmental course web pages.  The undergraduate and graduate course curricula in astronomy and astrophysics are excerpted below.

Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Science in Astronomy

The Bachelor of Science in astronomy requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 64 s.h. of work for the major. It provides a balanced and integrated program of astronomy, mathematics, and physics courses that prepare students for advanced study in astronomy or astrophysics. It also serves as an interesting choice of major for a liberal arts education.

The B.S. in astronomy requires the following courses or their equivalents. Students also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program.

MATHEMATICS 

22M:025-22M:026 Calculus I-II  8 s.h.
22M:027 Introduction to Linear Algebra  4 s.h.
22M:028 Calculus III

 4 s.h.
OTHER REQUIRED COURSES 

029:027-029:028 Physics I-II  8 s.h.
029:029-029:030 Physics III-IV  8 s.h.
029:061-029:062 General Astronomy I-II  8 s.h.
029:115 Intermediate Mechanics  3 s.h.
029:119-029:120 Introduction to Astrophysics I-II (classes are offered alternate years, students are responsible for registering when the class is available)  6 s.h.
029:129-029:130 Electricity and Magnetism I-II  6 s.h.
029:137 Astronomical Laboratory (classes are offered alternate years, students are responsible for registering when the class is available)  3 s.h.
029:140 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I  3 s.h.

One of these: 

029:128 Electronics  4 s.h.
029:132 Intermediate Laboratory  3 s.h.

One of these:

029:141 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II  3 s.h.
029:194 Plasma Physics I  3 s.h.

Undergraduate majors who plan to pursue graduate study are advised to go as far as they can beyond the minimum requirements listed above, by taking one or more of the courses listed below. In planning this work, they should be guided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences maximum hours rule: Students earning a B.A. or B.S. may apply a maximum of 50 s.h. earned in one department to the minimum 120 s.h. required for graduation, whether or not the course work is accepted toward requirements for the major; students who earn more than 50 s.h. from one department may use the additional semester hours to satisfy requirements for the major (if the department accepts them), and the grades they earn become part of their grade-point average; but they cannot apply the additional semester hours to the minimum 120 s.h. required for graduation.

Students earning a B.S. with a double major in physics and astronomy may count more than 50 s.h. earned in the Department of Physics and Astronomy to the 120 s.h. required for graduation, but they must earn at least 56 s.h. in course work outside the department in order to graduate. 

029:118 Statistical Physics  3 s.h.
029:141 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II  3 s.h.
029:171-029:172 Mathematical Methods of Physics I-II  6 s.h.
029:180 Introductory Optics  3 s.h.
029:186 Radio Astronomy  3 s.h.
029:192 Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics  3 s.h.
029:194-029:195 Plasma Physics I-II  6 s.h.

Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy

The Bachelor of Arts in astronomy requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 52 s.h. of work for the major. It is designed for students who wish to gain considerable knowledge of astronomy but who do not plan a research-oriented career in the field. The B.A. is appropriate for those planning careers in secondary school science teaching or science-related administration; see Science Education (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) in the Catalog. It also is appropriate for those preparing for professional school. The B.A. requires fewer physics and mathematics courses than the B.S., and thus provides for a wider choice of electives.

The B.A. in astronomy requires the following courses or their equivalents. Students also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program

22M:025-22M:026 Calculus I-II  8 s.h.
029:027-029:028 Physics I-II  8 s.h.
029:029-029:030 Physics III-IV  8 s.h.
029:061-029:062 General Astronomy I-II  8 s.h.
029:115 Intermediate Mechanics  3 s.h.
029:119-029:120 Introduction to Astrophysics I-II  6 s.h.
029:132 Intermediate Laboratory  3 s.h.
029:137 Astronomical Laboratory  3 s.h.

One of these: 

029:118 Statistical Physics  3 s.h.
029:180 Introductory Optics  3 s.h.

One of these: 

029:128 Electronics  4 s.h.
029:129 Electricity and Magnetism I (requires vector calculus as prerequisite)  3 s.h.

Students may earn a B.A. with a double major in the department; see "B.S. or B.A. with Double Major in Physics and Astronomy" below.

Back To Top

B.A. or B.S. with Double Major  in Astronomy

Students working toward a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts with a double major in physics and astronomy must complete all requirements for both majors and must earn a minimum of 56 s.h. outside the Department of Physics and Astronomy in order to graduate. Students interested in earning a double major should consult with their advisors. See "Earning a Degree" in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Academic Handbook.

Minimum Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

The following checkpoints list the minimum requirements students must complete by certain semesters in order to stay on the University's Four-Year Graduation Plan. (Courses in the major are those required to complete the major; they may be offered by departments other than the major department.)

B.A. in Astronomy

Before the third semester begins: math through calculus I and II, physics I and II, and at least one-quarter of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the fifth semester begins: physics III and IV, at least one more course in the major, and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the seventh semester begins: three more courses in the major and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the eighth semester begins: nine courses in the major

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

B.S. in Astronomy

Before the third semester begins: calculus I and II, physics II, and at least one-quarter of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the fifth semester begins: math through vector calculus, physics III and IV, linear algebra, two other courses in the major, and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the seventh semester begins: four more courses in the major and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the eighth semester begins: three more courses in the major

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

B.A. and B.S. in Physics

Before the third semester begins: calculus II, physics II, and at least one-quarter of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the fifth semester begins: physics III and IV, introduction to linear algebra, calculus III, up to two more courses in the major, and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the seventh semester begins: two to four more courses in the major and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the eighth semester begins: two or three more courses in the major

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

Back To Top

Honors Program

Junior and senior physics and astronomy majors who are members of the University of Iowa Honors Program may take 6-8 s.h. of 029:099 Undergraduate Research and conduct an investigation with the guidance of a faculty member as part of their programs for the B.A. or B.S. with honors in physics, applied physics, or astronomy. They must present a written research report (honors thesis) and describe the results of the research at a departmental seminar.

Membership in the University of Iowa Honors Program requires that students maintain a cumulative University of Iowa g.p.a. of at least 3.33 (contact the University of Iowa Honors Program for more information).

Back To Top

Minor in Physics

The minor in physics requires a minimum of 15 s.h. in physics, including 12 s.h. taken at The University of Iowa, chosen from 029:029 Physics III029:030 Physics IV, and 100-level physics courses. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 for all work in the minor. Course work in the minor may not be taken pass/nonpass. Before enrolling in 029:029 Physics III, students must complete that course's prerequisites (029:027 Physics I and 029:028 Physics II, or 029:081 Introductory Physics Iand 029:082 Introductory Physics II).

There is no minor offered in applied physics.

Back To Top

The minor in astronomy requires a minimum of 15 s.h. in astronomy and physics courses, including 12 s.h. of upper-level course work and 12 s.h. taken at The University of Iowa. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 for all work in the minor. Course work in the minor may not be taken pass/nonpass.

The upper-level course work must include 6 s.h. chosen from 029:119 Introduction to Astrophysics I,029:120 Introduction to Astrophysics II, and 029:137 Astronomical Laboratory. Remaining work may be chosen from any 100-level astronomy or physics courses.

Back To Top

Graduate Programs

The department offers a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in physics, and a Master of Science in astronomy. Students who wish to pursue a program in astronomy beyond the M.S. may qualify for a Ph.D. in physics with a specialization and dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics. An M.S. is not prerequisite to a Ph.D.

All graduate students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. in physics must pass the qualifying exam (see "Doctor of Philosophy in Physics"). Each entering graduate student is assigned a faculty advisor, who assists in preparing a plan of study and in guiding the student's progress. The Department of Physics and Astronomy participates in an interdisciplinary doctoral program, the Program in Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences (see Graduate College in the Catalog).

Back To Top Back To Top

Master of Science in Astronomy

The Master of Science in astronomy requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit. It is offered either with or without thesis. The M.S. may be a terminal degree or a step toward a Ph.D. in physics with specialization and a dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics. In either case the final examination is oral, conducted by a committee of three faculty members.

Students in the astronomy M.S. with thesis program earn the required 30 s.h. in courses numbered 170 or above, with at least 15 s.h. at the 200 level, and a g.p.a. of at least 3.00. The 30 s.h. must include at least 6 s.h. chosen from 029:232 Theoretical Astrophysics I029:233 Theoretical Astrophysics II,029:234 Stellar Structure and Evolution, and 029:235 Special Topics in Astrophysics. Students may earn a maximum of 6 s.h. in 029:220 Individual Critical Study and 029:282 Research: Astronomy. Seminars do not count for credit toward the 30 s.h. requirement. Up to one-third of the course work may be in graduate courses in related fields, such as meteorology, geology, and electrical engineering; selection of such courses is encouraged.

Students in the astronomy M.S. nonthesis program earn 18 s.h. of the required 30 s.h. in the core graduate courses 029:205 Classical Mechanics029:213 Classical Electrodynamics I029:214 Classical Electrodynamics II029:232 Theoretical Astrophysics I029:233 Theoretical Astrophysics II029:234Stellar Structure and Evolution, and 029:235 Special Topics in Astrophysics. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 in the core graduate courses. Students may earn a maximum of 4 s.h. in 029:220Individual Critical Study and 029:282 Research: Astronomy. Seminars do not count toward the required 30 s.h. Up to one-third of the course work may be in graduate courses in related fields, such as meteorology, geology, and electrical engineering; selection of such courses is encouraged.

Back To Top

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in physics requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Graduate students who pursue thesis topics in astronomy or astrophysics receive the Ph. D. in Physics with an emphasis on Astrophysics.

Graduate students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in physics must pass a qualifying examination in all principal areas of physics at the level of first-year graduate work. The examination, which may be repeated only once, is given each year before the beginning of the fall semester. Students must take the exam for the first time no later than the start of their third year of graduate study.

All Ph.D. students must take comprehensive examinations; participate in advanced seminars; do original research in experimental physics, theoretical physics, or astrophysics; and prepare and defend a written dissertation based on this work.

The program of study for the Ph.D. with a major in physics includes thorough course work in both classical and quantum physics for all students, whether their specialized research is to be in an experimental or a theoretical area.

Students must take at least 24 s.h. of 200-level courses in the department, excluding 029:220 Individual Critical Study029:281 Research: Physics029:282 Research: Astronomy, and seminars. The following courses are required. 

029:171-029:172 Mathematical Methods of Physics I-II (students who pass a written examination are exempt from the requirement to take this sequence)  6 s.h.
029:205 Classical Mechanics  3 s.h.
029:212 Statistical Mechanics I  3 s.h.
029:213-029:214 Classical Electrodynamics I-II  6 s.h.
029:245-029:246 Quantum Mechanics I-II  6 s.h.

Advanced mathematics, such as complex variables and tensor analysis, is used freely in these courses. An introduction is given in 029:171 Mathematical Methods of Physics I and 029:172 Mathematical Methods of Physics II. The selection of less advanced course work depends on the adequacy of a student's preparation for graduate work; students' choice of more advanced and specialized courses depends on the direction in which their interests develop.

After a student has chosen a research specialty, he or she must submit a formal thesis proposal and defend the proposal in an oral comprehensive exam. The appropriate thesis advisor then becomes the candidate's general advisor and the chair of the comprehensive and final examination committee. The comprehensive exam must be taken before the beginning of the fourth year of graduate study.

Ph.D. candidates are not recommended for the degree until they have written the dissertation in proper form for formal publication and have submitted it for publication, with the approval of the research advisor, to a widely distributed, refereed scientific journal.

Admissions Program

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College or the Graduate College section of the Catalog.

Students qualified for graduate study are encouraged to apply for fellowships and assistantships. Contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy chair.

Back To Top

Copyright University of Iowa 2013