- Offered as:
- Specialization track
Instrumentation physics, an option within the physics major, is directed toward preparing a bachelor's degree holder for working in government and industrial laboratories, where the ability to use and modify complex electronic and mechanical equipment is high valued. A physicist's perspective on making measurements and interpreting experimental data provides an important counterpoint to those of engineers focused on construction and of mathematicians focused on analysis. This program emphasizes laboratory experiences and student study in as many different labs as possible both in physics and electrical engineering. Physics is the most basic natural science and considers physical systems ranging in size from nuclei, to atoms, to the cosmos. It is an extremely broad field, with many sub-fields. Understanding the forces and laws that underpin the interactions of matter and energy form a major part of the discipline. Applying this understanding to other sciences and technology offers numerous opportunities for the well-trained physicist.
- Strengths of the program
- You can join a math, science, and engineering community residence hall at WSU Pullman—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall’s computer lab.
- Pursue a variety of attractive research opportunities through the college internship program.
- Study with internationally recognized researchers in electrical engineering and physics.
- Earn a highly marketable degree. Physics majors have a strong record of employment.
- Study in the computer-equipped lounge available solely for physics majors.
- Develop next-generation instruments for science and industry.
- Combine an interest in how things work with a desire to make things work.
- Enroll in Honors Physics, an accelerated version of introductory physics.
- Interact with other departments through our interdisciplinary research centers.
- Requirements and core courses
Bachelor of science in physics degree
In addition to the core and option classes listed below, students must complete general education, college, and department requirements as well as approved science and degree electives as outlined in the General Catalog in order to graduate. Students should consult the catalog and their advisor for course planning.
PHYSICS CORE COURSES (First and Second Year)
Math 171, 172 & 273-Calculus I & II & III
Phys 201 & 202-Physics for Scientists and Engineers I & II or 205 & 206-Honors Physics Chem 105 & 106-Principles of Chemistry I & II or 115 & 116-Honors Chemistry
Math 220-Introductory Linear Algebra EE 214--Design of Logic Circuits
Phys 303-Modern Physics I Biological Science courses Cpt S 121-Program Design and Development
Math 315-Differential Equations
Phys 330-Thermal Physics Engl 402-Technical/Professional Writing
INSTRUMENTATION PHYSICS OPTION
EE 261 & 262-Electrical Circuits I & Lab
Phys 304-Modern Physics II Phys 320-Mechanics
Phys 341 & 342-Electricity and Magnetism I & II
Approved Math courses
Phys 415-Quantum Physics Laboratory
Phys 410-Electronics Phys 443-Optics
Phys 450-Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Phys 490-Undergraduate Thesis
EE 352-Electrical Engineering Laboratory
Phys 412-Modern Optics Laboratory
Phys 463-Introduction to Solid State Physics
Phys 465-Introductory Nuclear Physics
Phys 499-Special Problems
- Scholarships and financial aid
For students in instrumentation physics
Physics scholarships include the Paul and Dian Bender Freshman Physics Scholarship, the Claire May Band Freshman Physics Scholarship (for women), the Physics Transfer Student Scholarship, the Paul Anderson Award for Excellence in Physics, the Edward E. Donaldson Surface Science Scholarship, the George Duvall Scholarship in Shock Compression Science, and the Physics Textbook Scholarship. (For information contact the physics department at 509-335-1698.) Physics majors also may qualify for a variety of federal, state, and University-sponsored loan and scholarship programs.
For all students
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs. Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
Students should complete the Washington State University general scholarship application and the FAFSA to ensure their eligibility for the widest range of scholarships and needed-based financial aid.
For information or to apply for financial aid and scholarships from WSU, see the Scholarships and Finances section of the WSU website.
- Facilities and technology
The research and teaching facilities at WSU include a wide variety of lasers, that produce nanosecond to femtosecond pulses at a variety of wavelengths. Ultrahigh vacuum systems equipped with mass spectrometers, particle detectors, and spectrometers are available for the study of surfaces. Gas guns are employed to study shock waves in liquids and solids. Many atomic-scale surface structures are probed with scanning tunneling microscopes. Nanometer scale structures are produced and studied with scanning force microscopes. Available elsewhere on campus are Auger and photoelectron spectrometers, ESR and NMR spectrometers, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, and a nuclear reactor. The physics department operates the Jewett Observatory, with the largest refracting telescope in the state of Washington, and the WSU planetarium. A computer laboratory with a wide variety of computers and terminals is available to all physics majors.
- Career options
Careers open to those with the instrumentation physics option include design engineer, test engineer, and instrumentation engineer for data acquisition, process control, and system integration. Testing and evaluating semiconductor chips and acquiring data for oil exploration and sensor development are important industrial examples. Instrumentation physics graduates are employed in the design and repair of electronics for medicine, government laboratories, and the chemical and electronics industries. Careers in technical and electronic equipment sales are also open to graduates in the instrumentation physics option.