Academic Catalog 2021-2022


This is an archived copy of the 2021-2022 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Physics

Program Description

Physics is the study of the natural world at its foundation. As such it is the basis of other disciplines such as biology, medicine, chemistry, computer science, geology, astronomy and engineering. Physicists study the world from the smallest particles of matter (quarks and leptons), nuclei, atoms, and molecules; through forces and motions which determine properties of solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas; to descriptions of the behavior of matter on all scales up to stars, galaxies, and even the origin and fate of the universe. Other researchers explore how physics itself can be learned. Physics is also the base of most engineering. The department encourages student-faculty interaction in all these areas.

For the traditional physics baccalaureate degree, the department offers a General Physics Option, which provides access to advanced theoretical and technical careers. In addition, students may gain experience by participating in research projects (e.g. neutrino experiments, nuclear physics experiments, and Physics Education Research).

Since many physics majors find their niche in teaching, the department offers a Physical Science Option tailored to meet education standards and satisfy waiver requirements for a single subject teaching credential. The Physics faculty are committed to teaching excellence, and to teacher education in the sciences. The department provides essential laboratory hands-on experience in understanding and demonstrating science.

For students intending to pursue graduate work or employment in Electrical Engineering, the department offers an Electrical Engineering option, intended to facilitate a seamless transition after graduation. An agreement in place with the CSU Fullerton College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science allows students to satisfy all of the course requirements for admission to an MS program at CSU Fullerton.

The Physics Minor has flexible upper division requirements to encourage students majoring in other fields to broaden their expertise to fit a niche in contemporary technology or research. Students are invited to meet with a physics advisor to map areas of interest and expertise. The most successful physics minors distinguish themselves as mathematics majors in applied math, computer science majors in computer hardware, chemistry students in physical chemistry, music majors in electronics and instrumentation, and clinical science majors with elements of nuclear physics (modern physics).


The most important feature of the Physics Department is its excellent full-time faculty, all members of which hold the doctorate. They are dedicated to excellence in teaching and are active in research and other scholarly activities.

Another attractive feature of the department is its small class size, allowing students to interact frequently and effectively with instructors within and outside of class. It also permits instructors to easily identify students in need of additional assistance, and to supply such assistance. Many of our majors work part-time in local high-tech organizations. Upper-division courses are often offered in late afternoon or evening to make courses more accessible for these students.

Progress in this science often depends on our innovation in designing advanced experimentation to observe natural phenomena (when driven to its limits), or in computational or mathematical modeling to match a complex phenomenological response. Since new discoveries and techniques are instantly shared with the global community, the department is committed to introducing students to computer analysis techniques and internet web literacy. Excellent computer facilities are available on campus.

Academic Advising

All prospective students should meet with a Physics department faculty member to learn more about the physics major and minor and to receive assistance in planning a schedule of courses. All physics majors must review their course list with a physics advisor prior to registration each semester.


Prior to beginning a program in physics students are required to complete two years of high school algebra, one year of trigonometry and one year of geometry. Two years of laboratory science and four years of college preparatory English are required. Prior courses in computer programming and calculus are recommended.

Students transferring from an articulating community college should have completed three semesters of calculus (through differential and integral calculus of several variables), two semesters of calculus-based physics and one semester of general chemistry. If those students have not had an introduction to modern physics and/or mathematical physics, they must take PHY 134 General Physics III and PHY 306 Math Methods In Physics as soon as possible upon arrival at CSUDH. Transfer students are responsible for checking in advance that their general electives will meet transfer requirements. A transfer student who is given credit for the lower division should be able to complete our physics upper division in two years.

Scholarships for Full-time Physics Majors

Contact the Physics Department Office, NSM B-202, for information on three scholarships that the department offers each year.

Graduation with Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in the Physics major provided he or she has fulfilled the following:

  1. Has filed an approved graduation check for a B.S. in Physics during the current academic year with the General Physics, Physical Science, or Electrical Engineering option;
  2. Has attained an overall CSUDH GPA of 3.35 and a GPA in the Physics major of 3.25;
  3. Has or will have taken upon graduation the last 12 semester units of upper division requirements and the last 20 units overall in residence at CSUDH.  Transfer units may be included if they help the student satisfy the GPA requirements;
  4. Has been reviewed and recommended by the Physics faculty for graduation with honors in Physics.

Departmental-Professional Organizations, and Co-curricular Activities

The CSUDH Science Society, Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma (National Physics Honor Society) cooperate in offering lectures, social programs and field trips to promote student participation in and enjoyment of the sciences. These activities are enriching and greatly enhance our students' growth within our community of scholars. In addition, faculty are often willing to sponsor inexpensive student memberships in national physics organizations which publish ongoing research in a variety of areas of physics and engineering. The department sponsors a colloquium series with talks a few times each semester on various topics in physics and engineering.