2011-2012 University Catalog 
2011-2012 University Catalog

■ School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences

Phone: 703-993-1280
Web: spacs.gmu.edu


Professors: Becker (Associate Director), Blaisten-Barojas, Carr*, Dworzecka, Ehrlich, Ellsworth, Gentle, Lieb, Lohner, Mishin, Papaconstantopoulos, Satija, Satyapal, Summers (Director), T. Sauer*, Trefil, Wegman, C. Yang

Associate professors: Barreto, Borne, Cebral, Griva*, Klimov*, Rubin, Sander*, K. Sauer, So, Weingartner, R. Yang*, Zhang, Zoltek

Assistant professors: Camelli, Cressman, Nikolic, Rosenberg, Sheng, Tian, Weigel, Zhao

Term associate professor: Oerter

Term assistant professors: Geller, Jazaeri, Wyczalkowski

Term instructors: Ericson, Ewell

Emeriti: Ceperley, Evans, Mielczarek

Research faculty: Aubry, Bilitza, Boyer, Dere, Duxbury, Economou, Gliozzi, Hoang, Kim, Meier, Mut, Odstrcil, Poland, Richards, Sforza, Sha, Shabaev, Titarchuk

*Faculty holding primary appointments in other academic units.

The School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs for students with interests and career goals involving physics, computational sciences, data science, and astronomy. In addition, the School provides traditional and interdisciplinary research opportunities at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and benefits from a very high level of external grant funding. Additional information about current faculty research activities is available on the School’s website, spacs.gmu.edu.

Course Work

The School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences offers all course work designated ASTR, CDS, CSI, and PHYS in the Courses  chapter of this catalog.

Undergraduate Programs

The School offers bachelor’s degrees in Physics, in Computational and Data Sciences, and in Astronomy. Minors are available in Astronomy, in Computational and Data Sciences, and in Physics. An interdisciplinary minor is offered in Renewable Energy.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The School offers many opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved with research. Students should consult with faculty working on research topics of interest to them, based on their exploration of the School’s web site.

Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Degree

Qualified undergraduates may be admitted to an accelerated master’s program and obtain both a BS and an MS in Physics within an accelerated time frame. Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 6 credits of graduate work may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree. If students earn at least a 3.00 in these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master’s program and must then complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master’s degree. All other master’s degree requirements must be met, including a minimum of 18 credits taken for the master’s after the bachelor’s degree is complete.

Honors Programs

Physics majors who have maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.50 in physics courses and a GPA of 3.50 in all courses taken at Mason may apply to the physics honors program when they complete the first semester of their junior year. To graduate with honors in physics, a student is required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in physics courses and successfully complete PHYS 405 and 406 with a GPA of at least 3.50 and a grade of at least A- in PHYS 406.

Astronomy majors who have completed the prerequisites for ASTR 405 Honors Thesis in Astronomy, have a GPA of at least 3.50 in ASTR and PHYS courses taken at GMU, and have a GPA of at least 3.50 in all courses taken at GMU may apply for admission to the astronomy honors program. To graduate with honors in astronomy, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.50 in their ASTR/PHYS courses. Students accepted into the honors program must complete ASTR 405 and 406 with a GPA of at least 3.50 and a grade of A- or better in ASTR 406. Students in ASTR 405/406 will complete a research project and write a thesis working under the supervision of a faculty member. At the end of ASTR 406, the student will write a substantial thesis paper and make a presentation of results to their honors committee.

Writing-Intensive Requirement

Mason requires all students to complete at least one course designated as “writing intensive” in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in Physics fulfill this requirement by successfully completing PHYS 407. Astronomy majors fulfill the requirement by completing ASTR 402. Computational and Data Sciences majors fulfill this requirement by completing CDS 302 or CDS 411.

Teacher Licensure

Students who wish to become teachers should consult the College of Education and Human Development  chapter and attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, call 703-993-2078, e-mail gacline2@gmu.edu, or go to gse.gmu.edu.

Physics for Nonmajors

PHYS 243, 244, 245, and 246 are recommended for biology, geology, and premedical students, and mathematics students who seek a BA degree. PHYS 101, 102, 103, and 104 are intended for nonscience majors. PHYS 160, 161, 260, 261 or 265, 262, and 263 constitute a calculus-based sequence in general physics to be taken by physics and engineering majors, and chemistry, computer science, and mathematics students who are pursuing a BS degree. Students may receive credit for only one of the following three sequences: PHYS 243, 244, 245, 246; PHYS 103, 104; or PHYS 160, 161, 260, 261, 262, 263.

Graduate Programs

The School offers master’s degrees in Applied and Engineering Physics, and in Computational Sciences. The School also administers the Energy and Sustainability concentration in the Interdisciplinary Studies, MAIS  program. A graduate certificate is available in Computational Techniques and Applications.

The School also offers doctoral degrees in Computational Sciences and Informatics, and in Physics. These graduate programs are strongly supported by the extensive research activities of the School faculty, including many collaborations with scientists and engineers at regional government laboratories.


    Undergraduate DegreeUndergraduate Interdisciplinary MinorUndergraduate MinorBachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s ProgramMaster’s DegreeMaster’s Level CertificateDoctoral Degree