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Undergraduate Bulletin 2006-2007
Bulletin Homepage |College of Arts & Sciences | Bulletin Information

Department of Physics


James W. Corbett
Distinguished Service Professor

Walter M. Gibson, Ph.D. (Emeritae)
University of California, Berkeley

Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritae/i

Bruce B. Marsh, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Professors Emeritae/i

Raymond E. Benenson, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin

Keith F. Ratcliff, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh

Wilfried W. Scholz, Ph.D.
University of Freiburg (Germany)

Laura M. Roth, Ph.D.
Radcliffe College

Chih-ree Sun, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles


Mohammad Sajjad Alam, Ph.D
 (Department Chair)
Indiana University

Ariel Caticha, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology

Tara P. Das, Ph.D.
University of Calcutta

Jagadish B. Garg, Ph.D.
University of Paris

Akira Inomata, Ph.D.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

John C. Kimball, Ph.D.
University of Chicago

Tung-Sheng Kuan, Ph.D.
Cornell University

William A. Lanford, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Carolyn MacDonald, Ph.D.
Harvard University

Associate Professor Emeritae/i

Robert P. Lanni, M.A.
University at Albany

Assistant Professors

Keith Earle, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Jesse A. Ernst, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Kevin Knath, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota

Susanne M. Lee, Ph.D.
Harvard University

University Adjuncts (estimated): 12
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 25

The Physics Department provides students a solid foundation in classical and modern physics. Physics majors obtain a theoretical background in classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and thermal physics. Laboratory classes develop skills in experimental techniques. Elective courses in physics allow students to broaden their knowledge in areas such as nuclear, particle and solid state physics, and relativity and materials. Independent study with faculty members is encouraged.

Courses in environmental science, space physics and astronomy, physics and the arts, and physical science for humanists bring broader physical concepts to the non-major.


Physics graduates work as scientists in research labs, development labs, and medical centers. They become teacher and technical writers. They continue their education in physics, other sciences or mathematics, and education or medicine. Opportunities abound, and the variety of typical career choices is surprisingly varied.

Special Programs or Opportunities

Students can obtain a B.S. in Physics from the University at Albany and a B.S. in Engineering from another institution in five years. In this ď3-2 ProgramĒ, students study physics at Albany for the first three years. In the following two years, they complete their engineering requirements at the second school. The schools participating in the 3-2 Program are Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, SUNY at New Paltz, and SUNY at Binghamton.

Degree Requirements for the Major in Physics

The B.S. program requires the following 66 credits: (1) The introductory physics sequence of A Phy 140 , 150, and 240 (or the honors sequence 141, 151, and 241). (2) The lab sequence which accompanies these courses is A Phy 145, 155, and 245. (3) Higher level physics courses, A Phy 235, 250, 320, 335Z, 340, 350, 440, 450, and 460. (4) Chemistry courses, A Chm 120 and 121 (or the more advanced 130 and 131). (5) Mathematics calculus courses, A Mat 112 and 113 (or the honors courses 118 and 119; or A Mat 101 and 111 and 113) and A Mat 214. (6) A mathematics elective. This is an additional math course chosen from A Mat 220, 314, 367, or 412. (7) An additional Physics course numbered 300 or higher. (8) An additional science elective. This is a course in Atmospheric Science, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, or Geology, which is required of a major in these disciplines.

Honors Program

The honors program in physics is designed for outstanding students.

Students should apply for admission to the honors program before November 15 of the junior year.

The minimum requirements for admission are:

1. Completion of A Phy 140 or 141, 150 or 151, 240 or 241, 250 or their equivalents;

2. An overall grade point average of 3.30;

3. A grade point average of 3.60 in physics courses required for the major;

4. Written recommendations from at least three faculty members, one of whom, preferably, should be from outside the Department of Physics.

Students in the program must maintain both a minimum grade point average of 3.30 overall and of 3.60 in physics courses taken to satisfy major requirements during the junior and senior years.

Students in the honors program are required to complete a minimum of 72 credits as follows: the 66 credits specified for the general program in physics; 3 credits of Honors Seminar in Physics (A Phy 498); and 3 credits of Research and/or Independent Study in Physics (A Phy 497). The independent study must include an honors research project culminating in a written report by the end of the studentís last semester.

A Department Honors Committee will recommend an honors degree to the department faculty for its approval.

Combined B.S./M.S. Program

The combined B.S./M.S. program in physics provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and masterís degree programs at the beginning of the junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.S. and M.S. degrees within nine semesters.

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.S., students must meet all University and college requirements including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minimum 60-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.S. and M.S. programs.

A Phy 519 may be substituted for A Phy 335Z in meeting the B.S. requirements, enabling Phy 519 to be one of the graduate courses applied simultaneously to the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Students may apply to the Graduate Committee for admission to the combined degree program in physics at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required.