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Physics Degree

Program Offerings

• Bachelor of science degree in Physics
• Master of science degree in Physics
• Doctor of philosophy degree in Physics
• Minor in Physics

What is Physics?

Physicists explore the nature of physical reality at its most fundamental level, from the icy depths of the South Pole to dark matter weaving the fabric of the universe. Physicists ask the fundamental questions - How did the universe begin and how was it made? What is the universe made of? They explore the properties and laws that govern space, time, energy, and matter.

At South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, we offer the unique combination of world-leading research and undergraduate education. Due to the proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility, our physics students have the opportunity to participate in premier underground physics experiments including the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

What does a physicist do?

Physicists explore the nature of physical reality at its most fundamental level, from the icy depths of the South Pole to dark matter weaving the fabric of the universe. Physicists ask the fundamental questions - How did the universe begin and how was it made? What is the universe made of? They explore the properties and laws that govern space, time, energy and matter.

Duties a physicist might undertake include:
• Planning and conducting scientific experiments to test theories and discover properties of matter and energy
• Developing scientific theories and models that attempt to explain the properties of the natural world, such as the force of gravity or the creation of sub-atomic particles
• Writing scientific papers
• Presenting research findings
• Writing proposals for research funding
• Doing complex math to analyze data
• Designing scientific equipment
• Developing computer software to analyze and model data

First-Year Courses

First-year courses required for physics majors include:
• Chemistry
• Calculus
• Composition
• Physics
• Computer science

Course Curriculum

Link to Catalog

Internships and Co-ops

At Mines, 77 percent of students gain real-world experience through internships, co-ops, and research at such places as Soudan Underground Laboratory and Sanford Underground Research Facility located in Lead, just an hour from campus.

Career Outlook

2016-17 Mines physics graduates earned an average starting salary of $65,625. Many go on to graduate school. All of the 2017-18 graduates were accepted into graduate school. The job placement rate for 2017-18 Mines physics graduates was 100 percent.

Careers

SD Mines physics graduates can work in a wide range of career fields, including:
• Research
• Industrial development
• Environmental science
• Astrophysics
• Nuclear technology
• Medicine
• Transportation
• Music, television and gaming
• Law and finance

Employers

Mines physics graduates go on to work for such businesses as:
Sanford Underground Research Facility
American Electronics
Fast Enterprises
L-3 Communications
Los Alamos National Lab
South Dakota National Guard
US Navy Nuclear Officer Program
Raytheon
Soudan Underground Lab
Bechtel
Knolls Atomic Power Lab

Physics Research

Mines offers students the unique opportunity to study the origins and make-up of the universe through high-level research projects a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility near campus, including:
• Dark matter
• Neutrinos
• Nuclear astrophysics

Other fields of research include:
• Spintronics and quantum computing
• Materials with electric-dipole and magnetic-dipole types of polarization
• The study of dynamics of severe thunderstorms and other mesoscale phenomena

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