Jun 15, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics Department

College of the Sciences
Discovery Hall, room 139
Mail Stop 7422
    See website for how these programs may be used for educational and career purposes.

Faculty and Staff

Bruce Palmquist, PhD

Michael Braunstein, PhD, nuclear physics, astronomy
Bruce Palmquist, PhD, science education

Associate Professors
Erin Craig, PhD, computational biophysics
Cassandra Fallscheer, PhD, astronomy
Nathan Kuwada, PhD, experimental biophysics
Andrew Piacsek, PhD, acoustics, computational physics
Darci Snowden, PhD, atmospheric physics
Benjamin White, PhD, condensed matter physics

Rachel Foss, secretary senior
Deanna Marshall, recruiting and advising specialist
Addison Wenger, instructional and classroom technician III
Peter Zencak, instructional and classroom technician IV

Department Information

Physics is the study of the universe and its elements-from the interaction of subatomic particles and investigations in nanoscale science, to the motion of everyday objects, to the evolution of galaxies. Physics involves discovering the fundamental rules that describe matter and energy on every scale, hence it is the basic science that underlies all the natural sciences.
Most businesses want people who can analyze complex situations and solve problems. CWU physics majors learn these skills along with computational and electronics skills. The physics curriculum includes theoretical courses as well as laboratory classes and hands-on research that provide the practical training relevant to both graduate school or professional work in science and engineering. Recent acquisitions of state-of-the-art instrumentation in astronomy, acoustical physics, and lasers enrich students’ experience in the laboratory and research setting. Students also have the opportunity to participate in programs outside the formal courses offered by participating in the department’s award-winning Physics Club and Astronomy Club. The CWU physics program offers a BS degree, a BA degree (which doubles as our teaching degree), and engineering opportunities through our dual-degree physics/engineering program.

Department Standards
All students must meet with the physics chair to map out a four-year plan. The student can then select a faculty advisor. All faculty members are physics major advisors. Most upper-level physics courses are offered every other year. Thus, students who wait too long to meet with an advisor may have their graduation delayed. All physics majors must complete a physics major portfolio.

Honors Designation
The honors designation in physics recognizes the academic excellence of its majors. Students in the department’s BA and BS programs are eligible for this designation and all physics majors are urged to consider applying. The honors designation in physics is offered in collaboration with Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honors Society. Please contact the physics department chair for more information.

Dual-degree Physics/Engineering Program
This dual-degree program enables a student to receive a baccalaureate degree in physics from CWU and a bachelor of science from an appropriate engineering institution in a respective engineering discipline. The total length of time for both degrees is expected to be about five years, with approximately three years at CWU (dating from enrollment in MATH 172) and approximately two years at the engineering institution. At CWU, students must complete a minimum of 135 credits, including all general education requirements. Additional courses may be required depending on the specific engineering discipline. Be sure to consult the appropriate dual-degree engineering advisor for details.

In order to receive the baccalaureate degree from CWU, dual-degree students must also complete the remaining credits (to total a minimum of 180 credits) in engineering at the Engineering Institution and transfer these credits to CWU. The remaining credits must include the appropriate number of 300-level or above from the Engineering Institution to satisfy CWU graduation requirements. This transfer of credits and awarding of the baccalaureate degree by CWU can take place as soon as the student earns the necessary credits.

Special Requirements:
Early consultation with the physics department chair is mandatory to ensure that specific additional requirements of particular engineering curricula are also satisfied. It is solely the student’s responsibility to apply and gain admission to the Engineering Institution. It is also the individual student’s responsibility to submit an official transcript of the work completed after leaving CWU and to request awarding of the baccalaureate degree in physics.

Program Outcomes
For information on program outcomes, please go to: www.cwu.edu/mission/assessment-improvement/slo-assessment-plans

Course Offerings
Frequency of course offering information can be found at the department website: www.cwu.edu/physics or by contacting the department directly.


    Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)Bachelor of Science (B.S.)MinorOther Programs


      Physics (PHYS)