The Physics, BS program prepares students for graduate school and careers in education, business, or industry.

Teacher Licensure

Students who wish to become teachers and plan to seek teacher licensure should consider the following options:

Interested students should attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, visit the Graduate School of Education's website.

Admissions

University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Undergraduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

Policies

Students must fulfill all Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees including the Mason Core.

The intensive writing requirement is fulfilled by taking PHYS 407 Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics (Mason Core),  PHYS 410 Computational Physics Capstone (Mason Core), or ASTR 402 RS: Methods of Observational Astronomy (Mason Core), which are also capstone courses for the major.

For policies governing all undergraduate programs, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.           

Double Majors

Students considering a double major with physics should discuss this option with the respective undergraduate coordinators.

Note that at least 18 credits used to fulfill the Physics, BS cannot be used to fulfill another major or minor. Some course substitutions are allowed for double majors, but these should be discussed with a physics advisor in advance.

Alternative Introductory Sequence

Normally, students who intend to major in physics should take the physics introductory sequence:

PHYS 160University Physics I (Mason Core)3
PHYS 161University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core)1
PHYS 260University Physics II (Mason Core)3
PHYS 261University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core)1

Students who decide to major in physics after completing PHYS 243 College Physics I (Mason Core)PHYS 244 College Physics I Lab (Mason Core)PHYS 245 College Physics II (Mason Core) and PHYS 246 College Physics II Lab (Mason Core) are welcome, but are required to obtain written permission from the Department of Physics and Astronomy before a change of major can be approved.

Banner Code: SC-BS-PHYS

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Students must complete a total of 75 credits in the major (69 credits if completing a second major), including at least 11 credits in mathematics, with a minimum GPA of 2.00.

Students must complete the coursework described below and either select a concentration or select the "BS without Concentration" option:

Physics Core Courses

PHYS 160University Physics I (Mason Core)3
PHYS 161University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core)1
PHYS 251Introduction to Computer Techniques in Physics (Mason Core)3
PHYS 260University Physics II (Mason Core)3
PHYS 261University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core)1
PHYS 301Analytical Methods of Physics3
PHYS 303Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 305Electromagnetic Theory 13
PHYS 307Thermal Physics3
PHYS 308Modern Physics3
PHYS 402Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics3
PHYS 416Undergraduate Physics Review1
Total Credits30

Mathematics

MATH 113Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core)4
MATH 114Analytic Geometry and Calculus II4
MATH 213Analytic Geometry and Calculus III3
Total Credits11

BS without Concentration

Mathematics/Computational Physics6
Select 6 credits from the following:
Linear Algebra
Elementary Differential Equations
Intermediate Methods of Experimental Physics
Intermediate Laboratory6
Instrumentation
Waves and Optics
Research, Internship, or Independent Study3
Select 3 credits from the following:
Problems in Physics II
Honors Thesis in Physics I
Honors Thesis in Physics II
Senior Research
Physics Internship
Capstone4
Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics (Mason Core) 1
Computational Physics Capstone (Mason Core) 1
Physics Theory9-15
All students complete the following 9 credits:
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Quantum Mechanics II
Relativity
Only students who are not completing a second major must select 6 additional credits from the following:
Introduction to Astrophysics
Stars
Planetary Science
Galaxies and Cosmology
Physics of Renewable Energy
Molecular Biophysics
Solid State Physics and Applications
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Planetary Atmospheres and Ionospheres
Atmospheric Physics
Total Credits28-34

Applied and Engineering Physics Concentration (PHAE)

Mathematics/Computational Physics3
Intermediate Methods of Experimental Physics
Intermediate Laboratory6
Instrumentation
Waves and Optics
Physics Theory9
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Select 6 credits from the following:
Physics of Renewable Energy
Molecular Biophysics
Quantum Mechanics II
Solid State Physics and Applications
Capstone4
Select 4 credits from the following:
Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics (Mason Core) 1
Computational Physics Capstone (Mason Core) 1
Practical Work6-12
Students who are not completing a second major should select 12 credits from the following. Students who are completing a second major should select 6 credits:
Honors Thesis in Physics I
Honors Thesis in Physics II
Senior Research
Physics Internship
Bioengineering Signals and Systems
Power System Analysis
Electric Machinery and Modern Applications
Or other approved 300 or 400-level Volgenau School of Engineering courses
Total Credits28-34

Astrophysics Concentration (PHAP)

Mathematics/Computational Physics6
Computer Simulation in Astronomy
Elementary Differential Equations
Intermediate Laboratory6
Instrumentation
Waves and Optics
Research, Internship, or Independent Study3
Select 3 credits from the following:
Honors Thesis in Astronomy I
Honors Thesis in Astronomy II
Senior Research
Astronomy Internship
Problems in Physics II
Honors Thesis in Physics I
Honors Thesis in Physics II
Senior Research
Physics Internship
Capstone4
Select 4 credits from the following:
RS: Methods of Observational Astronomy (Mason Core) 1
Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics (Mason Core) 1
Computational Physics Capstone (Mason Core) 1
Physics and Astronomy Theory12-18
Students who are not completing a second major must complete the following:
Introduction to Astrophysics
Stars
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Relativity
Select two courses from the following:
Planetary Science
Galaxies and Cosmology
Exoplanets
The Interstellar Medium
Students who are completing a second major must complete the following:
Introduction to Astrophysics
Stars
Select 3 credits from the following:
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Relativity
Select 3 credits from the following:
Planetary Science
Galaxies and Cosmology
Exoplanets
The Interstellar Medium
Total Credits31-37

Computational Physics Concentration (PHCP)

Mathematics/Computational Physics15
Intermediate Methods of Experimental Physics
Linear Algebra
Elementary Differential Equations
Select 6 credits from the following:
Computer Simulation in Astronomy
Scientific Data and Databases
Scientific Data Mining
Numerical Analysis I
Numerical Analysis II
Intermediate Laboratory3
Instrumentation
Research, Internship, or Independent Study3
Select 3 credits from the following:
Problems in Physics II
Honors Thesis in Physics I
Honors Thesis in Physics II
Senior Research
Physics Internship
Capstone4
Computational Physics Capstone (Mason Core) 1
Physics and Astronomy Theory3-9
Students who are not completing a second major must select 9 credits of the following. Students who are completing a second major must select 3 credits from the following:
Introduction to Astrophysics
Stars
Planetary Science
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Solid State Physics and Applications
Total Credits28-34

Mason Core and Elective Credits

In order to meet a minimum of 120 credits, this degree requires additional credits (specific credit counts by concentration are shown below), which may be applied toward any remaining Mason Core requirements (outlined below), Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, and electives. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors to ensure that they fulfill all requirements.

  • Without concentration: 45 (or 51 if completing a second major)
  • PHAE concentration: 45 (or 51 if completing a second major)
  • PHAP concentration: 42 (or 48 if completing a second major)
  • PHCP concentration: 45 (or 51 if completing a second major)

Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Arts3
Global Understanding3
Literature3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Western Civilization/World History3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Honors in the Major

Physics majors who have maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.50 in physics courses and a GPA of 3.50 in all courses taken at George Mason University may apply to the physics honors program when they complete the first semester of their junior year.

To graduate with honors in physics, a student is required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in physics courses and successfully complete PHYS 405 Honors Thesis in Physics I and PHYS 406 Honors Thesis in Physics II with a GPA of at least 3.50 and a grade of at least ‘A-’ in PHYS 406 Honors Thesis in Physics II. Please visit the department for details.

Physics, BS/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education Physics Concentration)

Overview

Highly-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BS in Physics and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Education Physics concentration) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 143 credits.

See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees for policies related to this program.

This accelerated option is offered jointly by the department of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Education.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

BAM Pathway Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Policies and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits, and additional unit-specific criteria.

Students who are accepted into the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits and course-specific pre-requisites.

Accelerated Master’s Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MEd program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form:

  • 3.0 overall GPA                                                      
  • Completion of specific undergraduate coursework          
  • Successfully meeting Mason’s requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation. 

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following which can be taken as Advanced Standing or Reserve Graduate credit (to be determined by the student and their advisor):

EDRD 619Literacy in the Content Areas3
EDUC 547Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science3
SEED 522Foundations of Secondary Education3
SEED 540Human Development and Learning: Secondary Education3
SEED 573Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED 673Advanced Methods of Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED approved elective

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies.

Physics, BS/Applied and Engineering Physics, Accelerated MS

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to research to obtain both the Physics, BS and the Applied and Engineering Physics, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 138 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into a professional school, or a physics doctoral program, or a related discipline's doctoral program.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

Additionally, interested applicants should submit a letter to the undergraduate physics coordinator requesting admission along with the aforementioned recommendation letter(s). Contact the physics undergraduate or graduate coordinator for further details.

Successful applicants will have earned 60 undergraduate credits and have an overall GPA of at least 3.00. Additionally, they will have completed 45 credits in physics-major coursework. The physics major GPA must be at least 3.50.

One or more recommendation letters from one or more research supervisors are also required.

Interested applicants should submit a letter to the undergraduate physics coordinator requesting admission along with the aforementioned recommendation letter(s). Contact the physics undergraduate or graduate coordinator for further details.

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in all graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate and graduate degrees plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses, which may be taken while in undergraduate status, is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

ASTR 601Computer Simulation in Astronomy3
PHYS 502Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics3
PHYS 510Computational Physics I3
PHYS 513Applied Electromagnetic Theory3
PHYS 534Introduction to Quantum Computation and Quantum Information3
PHYS 591Systems for Quantum Scientists3
PHYS 613Computational Physics II3
PHYS 620Continuum Mechanics3
PHYS 683Mathematical Methods in Physics3
PHYS 684Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYS 685Classical Electrodynamics I3
PHYS 690Engineering Thermodynamics3

Bachelor's Degree (selected), Bioinformatics Management, Accelerated PSM

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain both the Biology, BS, or the Chemistry, BS, or the Computational and Data Sciences, BS, or the Physics, BS, or the Neuroscience, BS and the Bioinformatics Management, PSM degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 138 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

Students in the Biology, BS; Chemistry, BS; Computational and Data Sciences, BS; Neuroscience, BS; or Physics, BS with an overall GPA of at least 3.00 in their last 60 credits are welcome to apply to the Bioinformatics Management, PSM accelerated master's program. Applicants to this accelerated master's should have previously taken courses in molecular biology, computer science, calculus, physical chemistry, and statistics. Students with deficiencies in one or more of these areas may be required to take additional courses from the undergraduate curriculum.

The GRE requirement is waived for students accepted into this accelerated program.

Students should seek out the graduate program's advisor who will aid in choosing the appropriate graduate courses and help prepare the student for graduate studies.

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in all graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

Reserve Graduate Credits

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate and graduate degrees plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

BINF 630Bioinformatics Methods3
BINF 631Molecular Cell Biology for Bioinformatics3
GBUS 623Marketing Management3
GBUS 643Managerial Finance3
GBUS 738Data Mining for Business Analytics3