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Academic Program Guide

Physics and Materials

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree: BS
Limited Access: No

Contact: Antonio Valencia
Address: Keen Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4350
Phone: (850) 644-3245

Description of Major

*Please Note: Face-to-face/in-person instruction of this program is available ONLY at the main campus in Tallahassee, FL. This program is NOT available via Online/Distance Learning.*

Materials discovery and characterization is one of the drivers of experimental condensed matter physics. In the past this process has led to rapid development of materials-based technologies that are ubiquitous in our lives today, including smart phones, electric vehicles, and renewable energy technologies. With the ability to grow and measure high quality materials, leading to a better understanding of the physics that they host, we can begin to see a future in which “materials by design” becomes possible. Paramount to that future is the education of the next generation of material growers and measurers, which has been identified as a national need by the National Academies of Sciences in the 2009 report “Frontiers in Crystalline Matter: From Discovery to Technology” (recommendation 3).

A major in Physics and Materials will help to prepare the materials workforce of tomorrow in order to meet the future demand for advanced materials for both scientific research and industrial applications. In addition, FSU has committed resources to the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering, and this is a natural next step, especially since it will also provide students with specialized skills and knowledge for materials-related careers right out of college.

The FSU Physics Department also offers majors in: Physics, Physics & Astrophysics, and Physical Science.

Prospective transfer students should contact (Arts & Sciences Admissions) with specific questions about admission and mapping requirements.

Prerequisite Coursework

Prerequisite Coursework: (0 beyond other requirements)
Students must complete the following prerequisites required for admission in preparation for the upper division Physics major. The following may also apply toward the major and/or General Education requirements.

MAC X311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC X312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC X313 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III
CHM X045, X045L (3,1) General Chemistry I with Lab (or equivalent)
CHM X046, X046L (3,1) General Chemistry II with Lab
PHY X048C (5) General Physics A or PHY X048/X048L
PHY X049C (5) General Physics B or PHY X049/X049L

Note: State-wide common prerequisites are always under review. For the most current information and for acceptable alternative courses, visit the “Common Prerequisites Manual.” This is available from the “Student Services” section of .

We recommend that AA transfer students also take MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations before attending FSU.


Requirements for graduation in the College of Arts and Sciences include:
The College of Arts and Science requires proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate (2220 or equivalent) level or sign language through the advanced (2614 or equivalent) level.

Requirements for Progression to the Upper-Division Major
In order to be admitted, students must complete at least 52 hours of credit with an adjusted GPA of 2.00 on FSU coursework, and at least half the required hours in General Education, including English composition and mathematics. Students must earn a minimum grade of C minus or higher in each required physics and math course.

Departmental Policy on Grades and Continuation in the Major
No physics, chemistry, or math course with a grade below “C minus” may be used to satisfy the above requirements. A student who has received more than two unsatisfactory grades (U, F, D minus, D, D+) in courses required for the major, excluding the Term 1-4 State Common Prerequisites milestone courses, taken after enrolling at FSU will not be permitted to graduate with this major. Required courses at this level consist of the following: MAP 2302, PHY 1090, PHY 3045, PHY 3091, PHY 3101, PHY 3221, PHY 3802L, PHY 4323, PHY 4513, PHY 4604, PHY 4822L, PHZ 3113, PHZ 3400, PHZ 4151C, PHZ 4470, PHZ 4471.

Major Program of Studies at FSU: (51 hours)

Required courses in Physics: (47 hours)
PHY 1090 (1) Discovering Physics
PHY 2048C (5) General Physics A
PHY 2049C (5) General Physics B
PHY 3045 (3) Physics Problem Solving
PHY 3091 (2) Communication in Physics
PHY 3101 (3) Intermediate Modern Physics
PHY 3221 (3) Mechanics I
PHY 3802L (2) Intermediate Laboratory
PHY 4323 (3) Electricity and Magnetism I
PHY 4513 (3) Thermal and Statistical Physics
PHY 4604 (3) Quantum Theory of Matter A
PHY 4822L (2) Advanced Laboratory
PHZ 3113 (3) Mathematical Physics I
PHZ 4400 (3) Condensed Matter Physics
PHZ 4470 (3) Materials Characterization
PHZ 4471 (3) Materials Synthesis and Application
PHZ 4151C (3) Computational Physics Lab

Note: Students are strongly advised to take PHZ 3424 (3) Optics. Students who are planning to conduct graduate work are strongly advised to include PHY 4222 (3) Mechanics II, PHZ 4117 (3) Math Physics II, PHY 4324 (3) Electricity and Magnetism II, and PHY 4605 (3) Quantum Theory of Matter B in their programs.

Note: Although other majors in the Physics Degree program may substitute an Honors or Senior Thesis for PHY4822L, Physics and Materials majors may not.

Collateral Coursework: (24 hours)
Physics and Materials majors must satisfy all of the courses listed below. As collateral courses, these may also be used to satisfy prerequisite, General Education, and minor requirements. Coursework not used for General Education or the minor must still be taken and will raise the total hours of required coursework.

MAC 2311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC 2312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC 2313 (5) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III
MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations
CHM 1045, 1045L (3, 1) General Chemistry I and Laboratory
CHM 1046, 1046L (3, 1) General Chemistry II and Laboratory

Minor Coursework: At least 12 hours from an approved minor area or 15 hours from an approved interdepartmental minor or requirements as stated by the minor area. The required mathematics courses constitute a minor.

Digital Literacy: (3 hours beyond major)
Complete a University approved course to fulfill the requirement for this major.

Oral Communication Competency: (0 hours beyond major)
PHY 3091 (2) Communication in Physics fulfills the requirement for this major.

Minimum Program Requirements - Summary
Total Hrs. Required 120
General Education 36*
Major Coursework 51
Collateral Coursework 24*
Minor Coursework 0 beyond collateral coursework
Digital Literacy 3 beyond major
Oral Competency 0 beyond major
Foreign Language 0-12 (depending on placement)
Electives to bring total credits to 120

*NOTE: Collateral coursework can fulfill General Education or minor requirements. Students who begin college prepared to start mathematics with calculus will have the greater number of hours available for electives.


Mapping is FSU’s academic advising and monitoring system. Academic progress is monitored each Fall and Spring semester to ensure that students are on course to earn their degree in a timely fashion. Transfer students must meet mapping guidelines to be admitted into their majors. You may view the map for this major at

1. A minimum of 45 hours at the 3000 level or above, 30 of which must be taken at this University.
2. Half of the major course semester hours must be completed in residence at this University.
3. The final 30 hours must be completed in residence at this University.

Employment Information
Salary Information: For more information go to: National Association of Colleges and Employers ( or the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Representative Job Titles Related to this Major Baccalaureate level: Design Engineer, Materials Engineer, Metallurgist, Product/Process Development Scientist, Research Scientist, Technical Sales Engineer, High School Teacher, Patent Examiner, Project Manager, Manufacturing Systems Engineer. With additional education: Biophysicist, Geophysicist, Astrophysicist, Nuclear Physicist, Theoretical Physicist, Experimental Physicist, Solid State Physicist, College Professor, Low Temperature Physicist, Laser Physicist, Consultant, Aero dynamist, Stress Analyst.

Representative Employers: Aerospace, Automotive, Chemical Companies, Colleges and Universities, Electronics Firms, Engineering Firms, Governmental Agencies, Laboratories, Manufacturers, Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Research/Development Firms, School Boards, Telecommunications.

View Physics and Materials Academic Map