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College of Humanities & Sciences

Department of Physics

Undergraduate Research FAQ

How do I get involved in Undergraduate Research?

Our undergraduate research page has details.

What are the requirements for enrolling in Directed and Independent Study (PHYS 397/492)?

The key requirement is that you find a study adviser who is wiling to monitor and grade your progress.  For PHYS 397 Directed Study, that is the only requirement.  For PHYS 492 Independent Study you also must have taken at least 12 credit hours of courses that apply toward the physics major.

What is the difference between Directed Study (PHYS397) and Independent Study (PHYS 492)?

PHYS397 is basically a course in physics or technology that is not otherwise available in our department.  It usually involves learning the background needed for one of our research areas.  PHYS 492 consists of independent projects in experimental or theoretical physics.

What is the process for enrolling in Directed and Independent Undergraduate Research (PHYS 397/492)?

These two courses require the permission of both the instructor and the department chair to enroll.  See the Physics Student Administration Coordinator to enroll in the course.  Existing sections of these courses are always set at zero capacity so that you will need an override to enroll.  In many cases you will need to have the Student Administration Coordinator create a course section for you.  The coordinator will record the name of your instructor and confirm that you have permission to enroll.

What fields of research are available in PHYS 397/492?

It is best to ask our faculty members about their current projects.  PHYS492 is normally used for projects in experimental physics where you can gain some experience working in a lab.  PHYS397 tends to be used by our theorists who will help you to learn the background of what they do.

How many credit hours of PHYS397/492 can I register for in a semester?

You may take PHYS 397/492 for 1 – 3 credit hours, depending on your research advisor’s advice and your schedule.  Each credit hour of research typically requires 3-4 hours of laboratory work per week. Please note: PHYS397 can be taken up to a maximum of 4 credits, but a maximum of 3 credits can be applied toward the physics major.  PHYS492 can be taken up to a maximum of 8 credits, but a maximum of 3 credits can be applied toward the physics major.

In what semesters is PHYS 397/492 offered?

CHEM 392/492 is offered during every fall, spring and summer session of every academic year.

Can I register for PHYS 397/492 after the end of the usual drop/add period?

Yes you can!  With the permission of an instructor and the department chair, the student administration coordinator can create a section with a late start date so that you can register for it.  That option is very useful if you discover at the last minute  that you need to make up a deficit in upper level course credit in order to graduate.

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