The excitement of physics was recently summarized by Professor Brian Schwartz of Brooklyn College. "Physics has been one of the most exciting sciences of the 20th century. Many of the revolutions in science, technology, and modes of thought have been led and influenced by developments in physics: relativity, quantum mechanics, the Big Bang theory of the universe, and quarks, the new building blocks of matter, just to name a few. Physicists have paved the way for the invention of transistors, lasers, nuclear power, fiber-optic communications, magnetic resonance imaging, and much more".
Physics was once called "natural philosophy," with good reason. A physicist is trained to see and to understand nature in an especially profound way. Physicists learn how to break a problem down into its essential parts, to understand their interrelation, and to apply mathematics creatively to produce a solution. This training is useful in many professions besides physics; thus physics majors are found in professions as diverse as patent law, medicine, and investment management. The physics major therefore leads to many career options.
Traditionally, many UMBC physics majors have gone on to graduate school to pursue advanced degrees. UMBC graduates have obtained Ph.D. degrees at leading institutions such as M.I.T., and Stanford and Cornell Universities, and the Universities of Michigan, and Illinois, among others. Other physics graduates go out into the workplace immediately upon graduation. Recent graduates from the UMBC have found jobs in electro-optics, space physics, computer modelling, and semiconductor research, with employers such as NSA, Lockheed-Martin, NASA, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories. Others have applied for entrance into professional schools in fields such as medicine, law, or business.
The Physics Department at UMBC offers two degree tracks to undergraduates -- Physics and Applied Physics. Either track can be taken as a terminal degree which qualifies a student for immediate professional employment, or eIther can be used as a basis for entrance into graduate school. It is important for all students to work closely with their departmental academic advisor to take full advantage of the elective courses offered, especially once a particular career path has been chosen.
There is a BS/MS option available, which enables a student to apply 9 undergraduate credits towards an MS in applied physics and thereby obtain an MS degree in less than 2 years.
The department also offers minors in Physics and Astronomy.
For official curriculum for this major, please visit the online undergraduate catalog. This site is your one-stop location for academic policies, major requirements, academic support services, and the first year experience.
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