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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: Physics

What is Physics?

Physics is science that uses experiments, measurements, and analysis to identify quantitative physical laws for how the universe works. It covers every length and time scale of the Universe, both the microscopic and the macroscopic. Physics is the basis of all science and engineering.

At South Dakota Mines, we offer remarkable opportunities for undergraduates to take part in world-leading research. Due to our proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility, our physics students can participate in premier astrophysics and particle physics experiments including the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment and the LZ dark matter 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 the hunt for the dark matter which is an important part of the universe. Physicists ask the fundamental questions - How did the universe begin? What is it made of? How can we exploit properties of matter?

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
• 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
• Exploring fundamental properties of materials
• Using 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 South Dakota Mines, 77% 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. Our students earn an average salary of $20.00/hour on these internships and co-ops.

Career Outlook

For the 2019-2020 academic year, physics grads from South Dakota Mines earned an average starting salary of $74,000 (based on less than five offers). The job placement rate was 83%.

Careers

With a physics degree from South Dakota Mines, you 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

South Dakota Mines physics graduates go on to work for such businesses as:
• Sanford Underground Research Facility
• American Electronics
• Los Alamos National Lab
• South Dakota National Guard
• US Navy Nuclear Officer Program
• Raytheon
• Bechtel
• Knolls Atomic Power Lab
• Bluestem Brands
• Collins Aerospace
• Microsoft
• Wipro

Physics Research

South Dakota Mines offers students – both undergrad as well as master’s degree and doctorate degree - the unique opportunity to study the origins and makeup of the universe through high-level research projects a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility near campus, including research into:
• Dark matter
• Neutrinos
• Nuclear astrophysics

Other fields of research include:
• Data analysis from world’s largest neutrino observatory, IceCube.
• 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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