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Engineering Physics/Materials Science

Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science 

For More Information

Department Head

Missouri State University
901 South National Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65897
Office: 417-836-5131
Fax: 417-836-6226
Email: Physics@missouristate.edu

Career Preparation

In the past 30 years, an enormous number of unusual and previously unknown materials have been put to use in our society. These include wear and corrosion resistant materials for spacecraft, lightweight composite materials for the new generation of aircraft and automobiles, new optical and electronic materials for high speed computers, and inexpensive electronic materials for commercial use. The field of materials science has made many contributions to understanding the technology of these materials that have radically changed our way of life in the 21st century.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics with an emphasis in Materials Science will provide graduates with the appropriate background to find employment in the applied engineering field of materials science. This program provides students with a broad background in the physics of solids and high-technology materials synthesis and characterization techniques. This practical experience will include the operation and design of the equipment used to make integrated circuits. 

The Materials Science emphasis was designed for students who would like to see the more theoretical aspects of physics applied to the real world. Students who enjoy building experiments and analyzing the results should consider this major.

Graduates will be employed in the semiconductor manufacturing, materials synthesis and materials testing industries. Some students may have an interest in continuing their materials science education by enrolling in our Materials Science Master of Science Program.

Academic Program

This program emphasizes physics problem-solving techniques to address materials science technology challenges. The student will learn a variety of methods, both experimental and mathematical, to apply in the design of new and higher performing materials.

The Materials Science/Engineering Physics program is a 67 credit hour comprehensive program. It requires 39 credit hours in the Engineering Physics core and 28 hours in the Materials Science emphasis. Within the Engineering Physics core, 14 credit hours are in Computer Science and Mathematics.


The student must complete the general education requirements. (See the General Education section of the Missouri State Catalog online at www.missouristate.edu/catalog.)

Specific general education requirements are:

  • CSC 111 (3) Introduction to Computing
  • PHY 203 (5) Foundations of Physics I
  • MTH 261 (5) Analytical Geometry and Calculus I
  • ENG 321 (3) Writing II: Beginning Technical Writing

The Engineering Physics Core requirements are:

  • CSC 121 (3) Introduction to Programming, or
  • CSC 125 (3) Introduction to Programming
  • MTH 280 (5) Analytical Geometry & Calculus II
  • MTH 302 (3) Multivariate Calculus
  • MTH 303 (3) Differential Equations
  • PHY 204 (5) Foundations of Physics II
  • PHY 252 (3) Introduction to Circuit Analysis
  • PHY 343 (3) Thermodynamics
  • PHY 352 (3) Electronic Circuit Design
  • PHY 375 (3) Twentieth Century Physics I
  • PHY 386 (1) Undergraduate Research I
  • PHY 391(3) Mathematics for Science & Engineering I
  • PHY 392 (3) Mathematics for Science & Engineering II
  • PHY 486 (1) Undergraduate Research II

The required Materials Science emphasis courses are:

  • PHY 353 (3) Elementary Field Theory
  • PHY 385 (2) Experiments in 20th Century Physics
  • PHY 475 (3) Introduction to Solid State Physics, or
  • MAT 580 (3) Structure of Solids
  • PHY 476 (3) Twentieth Century Physics II
  • PHY 485 (3) Instrumentation Circuit Design
  • PHY 558 (3) Physics of Semiconductor Devices
  • MAT 540 (3) Thermodynamics of Materials
  • MAT 550 (3) Introduction to Materials Science

And at least 5 hours chosen from the following courses:

  • PHY 463 (3) Physical Optics
  • PHY 575 (3) Quantum Mechanics
  • PHY 543 (3) Kinetic Theory & Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 553 (3) Electromagnetic Field Theory
  • BMS 514 (2) Scanning Electron Microscopy


The Department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science has 16 full-time faculty members, 15 of which have Ph.D. or Ed.D. degrees.

Faculty interests in the area of materials science include molecular beam epitaxy, vacuum technology, x-ray absorption Fourier spectrometry, Raman spectroscopy, condensation studies, ion implantation and electro-optics. Characterization equipment includes a scanning tunneling microscope (capable of atomic resolution), an electronic characterization workstation (for measuring ac and dc, Hall effect, resistivity, thermoelectric power and piezoelectricity all as a function of temperature to 20 K and external magnetic field), and optical characterization equipment (such as absorption and reflection as a function of wavelength and photoluminescence).


Departmental facilities and equipment are available for students in the Materials Science/Engineering Physics program to accomplish their required research projects. Laboratories used in the program include:

  1. The Molecular Beam Epitaxy Laboratory where thin films of materials are grown, one molecular layer at a time,
  2. The Ion Implantation Laboratory where material modifications are made and studied using a particle beam accelerator,
  3. The Thin Film Physics Laboratory where metal organic complex molecules are studied by optical techniques under high pressure,
  4. The Raman Spectroscopy Laboratory, where organic light emitting diodes are made and studied,
  5. The Magnetic Materials Laboratory where the electronic properties of magnetic and semiconducting materials are measured at low temperatures.


Computer Engineering/Engineering Physics students will conduct a two-semester research project as part of their undergraduate experience. In this project they will work closely with a professor on a topic of mutual interest. Many of these projects will utilize the major research facilities mentioned earlier. In some cases these projects may be funded and provide the student with an undergraduate Work Grant.

Students are encouraged to participate in the department sponsored Student Engineering Club. Students in the club build robots for simple tasks or for contests. The department provides supplies to build the robots. Meetings are held in the student seminar and study room. Interested students can contact the department for further information.

The department also sponsors a chapter of the national Society of Physics Students (SPS) and a chapter of the national physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. SPS members organize and participate in a number of departmental activities, including physics competitions for high school students, tutoring assistance and seminars by guest speakers.

Students often find part-time employment in the department and may participate in the university’s Cooperative Education program. Students may also wish to apply for an appointment to a research semester at one of the U.S. government national laboratories.

Sample Schedule

Missouri State is committed to assisting students to graduate in four years--see sample graduation plans for this major.

The following is a sample schedule for this major--your actual schedule will vary.

First Semester Courses Hours
MTH 261 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I 5
CSC 111 Introduction to Computing 3
CHM 160 General Chemistry I 4
GEP 101 First-Year Foundations 2
COM 115 Fundamentals of Public Speaking 3
Total Hours 16
Second Semester Courses Hours
MTH 280 Analytic Geometry and Calculus II 5
PHY 203 Foundations of Physics I 5
ENG 110 Writing I 3
CSC 125 Introduction to C++ Programming 4
Total Hours 16
First Semester Courses Hours
MTH 302 Multivariate Calculus 3
PHY 204 Foundations of Physics II 5
PHY 375 Modern Physics 3
KIN 100 Fitness for Living 2
Total Hours 16
Second Semester Courses Hours
PHY 391 Mathematics for Science and Engineering I 3
MTH 303 Differential Equations 3
PHY 351 Circuit, Signals, and Controls 3
Writing II 3
Electives/General Education 3
Total Hours 15