Jun 19, 2024  
2022-2023 General Catalog 
2022-2023 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics and Astronomy

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Learn more about the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Valpo online.

Professors Hillwig, Richter (chair), Zygmunt; Associate Professors Gibson-Even, He.

Physics is the study of natural phenomena in an attempt to explain the interactions of matter and energy in terms of a limited number of fundamental laws. This study is predicated on careful observation and experimentation, thoughtful analysis, and creative insights. It is both descriptive and prescriptive and encompasses a realm from the submicroscopic particles of the atomic nucleus to the distant constituents of the universe.

In this context, the Physics and Astronomy Department offers a program of study to prepare students for graduate study and for entry-level work as a physicist in government or industry. Fields of study and employment include, but are not limited to, atomic physics, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, molecular physics, condensed matter physics, quantum electronics, laser optics, astronomy, astrophysics, atmospheric physics, geophysics, biophysics, medical physics, computational physics, electrical engineering, nuclear  engineering, scientific writing and reporting, high school physics teaching, patent law, and scientific equipment sales.

The department is well equipped, having a particle accelerator, an astronomical observatory, a surface physics laboratory, and extensive computer resources. Students pursue research projects under the direction of members of the faculty.

The department sponsors a local chapter of the National Society of Physics Students. Qualified students are elected to membership in the national honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. More information about the department can be found on the internet at valpo.edu/physics.

Qualified students may obtain cooperative education experiences in a variety of employment situations, including research laboratories and industrial and engineering companies. Up to four credits may be counted towards the minimum credit hours needed for a major in the department. With departmental approval, PHYS 481 -PHYS 483  or PHYS 497  may be substituted for PHYS 445 . For further information, refer to Cooperative Education, College of Arts and Sciences .


There are four different majors a student may choose to pursue. All four majors share 21 credit hours of required courses in common, thus making it easy for students to switch from one to another if their career objectives change. It is assumed that students will acquire competency in at least one computer programming language.

Credit by Examination

Credit for PHYS 111 , PHYS 112 , PHYS 112L , PHYS 141 , PHYS 141L , PHYS 142 , or PHYS 142L  may be earned through the Advanced Placement examinations offered by the College Entrance Examination Board.

Approval of Schedules

All students taking a major or minor in physics or astronomy and all students planning to teach physics or astronomy must have their schedules approved by the department advisor.

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