PHYSICAL SCIENCES PROGRAM (PSCI)College of Computer, Mathematical, & Physical Sciences
1120 John S. Toll Physics Building, 301-405-5979
Chair: T. Einstein (Prof)
The role of the Physical Sciences Program (PSCI) is to develop skills in the areas of analytic thinking, problem solving, understanding systems, and multidisciplinary perspectives. In a world of increasing technical complexity, knowledge of the physical sciences helps individuals to evaluate scientific claims and to make informed decisions about industrial and medical technology, environmental concerns, intellectual property, etc. The Program helps prepare students for a variety of careers requiring a broad scientific background, including meteorology, earth sciences, scientific computation, science writing/journalism, patent law, military/industrial leadership, technical sales, and public policy.
Program Learning Outcomes
Students are expected to fully engage with the curriculum and the opportunities presented for learning and research. Having completed the degree program, students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:
Admission to the Major
The Physical Sciences Program is not a Limited Enrollment Program. However, students must submit a program application and have it approved by the Physical Sciences Program Committee prior to graduating. The Committee is made up of the following faculty and staff:
Advisor: S. Shukla
Approval of Program Plans
All students must submit a program plan outlining what courses they plan to take to complete their program. These should include both the core courses and the distributive 300-400 level courses of 24 credits beyond the core.
In preparing such a program plan, students should keep in mind that the Physical Sciences Committee will look for courses that will support the purpose or goals of the program. These plans should be submitted as early as possible, normally no later than the beginning of the junior year. This is important because it will provide students with sufficient time to plan an appropriate program. The program plans will be approved by the Physical Sciences Committee and filed in the Dean's Office. Any changes to the plan must be approved in writing by the student's advisor and the Chairperson.
Students planning to use any of the special topics, or special programs topics courses (including PHYS 318) as part of their Physical Sciences requirement must obtain written approval to do so. Many of these special topics courses are intended for non-science students and are not suitable for Physical Sciences majors.
In preparing a program plan, students should keep in mind that certain other courses are also not considered suitable for a Physical Sciences major. In particular, courses at lower levels than the core courses designed primarily for non-sciences students may be disallowed. Contact the Program Advisor for specific details.
Requirements for the Major
The curriculum of the Physical Sciences Program has a high degree of flexibility to allow selection of courses to meet the interests and goals of the individual student. To earn a Bachelor of Science degree in the Physical Sciences Program, a student must satisfactorily complete the following requirements:
a. Chemistry: CHEM 135 and CHEM 132 or 136 (4 credits)
2. Distributive Requirements. Beyond the basic courses, students complete 24 upper level (300-400) distributive credits. All students must complete 18 of the 24 distributive credits as physical sciences majors. The distributive credits must be divided among three areas of concentration with at least 6 credits in each area. The areas of concentration include the disciplines of chemistry, physics, mathematics (including statistics), astronomy, geology, meteorology, computer science or one of the engineering disciplines. Students who wish to select electrical engineering need the permission of the Assistant Dean in the College of Engineering.
Other Requirements for the Major
Students must complete all courses required for the major with a grade of C- or higher.
Advising for undergraduates is available throughout the year in Room 1120 PHY. Students should also consult with the committee members for their areas of concentration. For early registration, advising is mandatory; students should check Testudo for their early registration date and should sign up for an appointment at https://advapp.physics.umd.edu. Students who have been away more than two years may find that due to curriculum changes the courses they have taken may no longer be adequate preparation for the courses required to complete the major. Students in this situation must meet with the Program Advisor to make appropriate plans.
The Physical Sciences Honors Program offers students the opportunity for research and independent study, and will lead to a BS degree with Honors or High Honors. The requirements are:
a) Overall grade point average of 3.0 or better.
b) Physical Sciences courses grade point average of 3.2 or better.
c) An independent study course in the Physical Sciences Program - three credit minimum which may be distributed over two semesters (e.g. Astronomy 399 or 498, Chemistry 399, Computer Science 498, Geology 499, Mathematics 498, Meteorology 499 and Physics 399 or 499B).
d) An honors thesis summarizing independent research submitted to the Physical Sciences Committee.
e) An oral examination concerning thesis and related subjects. The thesis advisor and two other faculty members (at least one a member of the Physical Sciences Committee) will comprise the examining committee.