Sac State Physics Overview
Physics is the most fundamental science and underlies our understanding of nearly all areas of science and technology. In a broad sense, physics is concerned with the study of energy, space, matter, and the interactions between them. Specific areas of study that physicists pursue include atomic physics, nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, electricity and magnetism, optics, thermodynamics, gravitation, relativity, and mechanics.
About half of our graduates have continued their studies in graduate programs; our alumni include students who continued their studies at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and Princeton. Many graduates continue in school to earn their middle school or high school teaching credentials; others find job opportunities in industrial or governmental laboratories.
We offer several degree options, each designed with a slightly different audience in mind. The Bachelor of Science degree in physics is the program designed for those intending on pursuing further studies in physics or astrophysics. The Bachelor of Science, Applied Physics Concentration is designed to prepare students for careers in the high tech fields by balancing physics rigor, practical skills, and flexible elective opportunities. The Bachelor of Arts degree is a flexible, liberal-arts oriented degree and the Bachelor of Arts, Teacher Preparation Concentration is preparing the next generation of high school physics teachers. We also offer minors in Physics (not suitable for a physics major) and Astronomy (highly recommended if you are interested in astrophysics). We also offer two certificate programs, one in Scientific Instrument Development and the other in Scientific Computing and Simulation. Details on all of our programs can be found in the University Catalog.
Students in the physics programs at Sacramento State have a very important role in the life of the department. The campus chapter of the Society of Physics Students is a vibrant group of students engaged in social, networking, and outreach activities. Weekly physics seminars expose our students to modern research in physics at Sac State and elsewhere. The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers numerous scholarships and has the opportunity for employment as a stockroom assistant or a learning/teaching assistant. In the 2015-16 academic year, nearly $25,000 in scholarships and awards were given out by the Department. Our Senior Project course provides a means for student to experience research while still an undergraduate. Many students perform the research under the guidance of our own faculty, but some have been involved with off-campus projects. In recent years projects have involved internationally known facilities such as CERN, Fermilab, NIST, SETI Institute, UC Davis, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, SLAC, Lick Observatory, Las Campanas Observatory, and NASA Goddard Flight Center.
Twelve full-time faculty members with backgrounds in atomic and molecular physics, nuclear physics, high energy physics, biophysics, low temperature physics, condensed matter, astrophysics, instrumentation, computational physics, and physics education research teach classes at all levels – from “physics for poets” to quantum mechanics. Students get to work closely with faculty members as academic and research advisors. Formal and informal gatherings of students, faculty, and staff contribute to a wonderful learning environment.
We have a compliment of excellent laboratories that give our students lots of hands on time in the lab. These facilities include: