Physics - Curricula - Title


Physics - Curricula - Title - Combat Systems Science and Engineering

Applied Physics of Combat Systems

The Applied Physics of Combat Systems Curriculum is the primary sponsor of students pursuing degrees in Applied Physics. The flag-level curriculum sponsor is the Commanding Officer of the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO-IWS) within NAVSEA. Consequently, the Department of Physics offers three primary tracks in the Applied Physics degree related to core subspecialty areas within PEO-IWS: acoustics, sensors, and weapons. Naval officers completing a Master’s degree in Physics or Applied Physics receive a 570XP subspecialty code based on their chosen track.

The Applied Physics of Combat Systems program is designed to improve a student’s understanding of technical aspects, limitations, and state-of-the-art of weapon, sensor, acoustic and energy systems. This includes an understanding of weapon effects to determine optimal offensive and defensive strategies, an improved ability to interpret the output from sensor systems, an understanding of the impacts of propagation phenomena on sonar, radar, and directed energy systems, practical knowledge in electronics, mechanics, and material science to better direct maintenance activities, and the opportunity to investigate advanced energy sources (e.g., renewables, nuclear, etc.) and technology to support combat systems. Throughout the program, students are exposed to comparisons of theoretical and model predictions to laboratory measurements as a means of Verification, Validation and Analysis for modern warfare systems.

Non-naval or international students in the Applied Physics of Combat Systems Curriculum can also choose to pursue a degree in Engineering Acoustics. This is a joint degree between Applied Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering, and is one of the most popular degree tracks for students in the Undersea Warfare Curriculum.


Unlike electromagnetic signals, sound is unique in its ability to propagate underwater for long distances. Thus, successful maritime dominance against submerged contacts depends on continual improvements in our ability to exploit acoustic signatures. The Acoustics Track starts with a course in structural vibrations and proceeds to courses covering the fundamentals of sound, military applications of underwater sound, sonar hardware design and performance, and advanced concepts in sound propagation. The coursework is supplemented by laboratory measurements and hands-on demonstrations. Students completing this track will have an understanding of how ship vibrations result in radiated noise, sonar trade-offs and limitations, sound propagation in the ocean, and sonar signal processing techniques.


The focus of the Sensor Track is to provide broad understanding of operation principles of advanced electro-optics sensors, imaging systems and lasers. The coursework covers optics, solid state sensors, lasers and imaging systems. Topics in Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) are also included due to its importance in modern sensor design and fabrication. The coursework is supplemented by laboratory demonstrations and hands on design and fabrication technology. Students completing this track will have understanding of state-of-the-art sensors and imaging systems to interpret the output of various instrumentation aboard naval vessels to make appropriate strategic and acquisition decisions.


The Weapons Track coursework examines the design, delivery, and effects of modern weapons systems. This spans the gamut from traditional explosives and ballistics to nuclear weapons, including alternative modern systems such as laser weapons and railguns. Specific coursework on conventional weapons covers the physics of blast and shock waves, terminal ballistics, explosives, and the detonation phenomenon. A course on simulations is presented as a means of analyzing modern Laser Weapons and their application with Electric Ship weapons systems. Current Navy railgun technology and nuclear weapons effects are also covered in courses which have been designed jointly with Navy warfare centers and DoE nuclear weapons labs. Students completing this track will have an understanding of the advantages and limitations of conventional, nuclear and laser weapons to determine optimal strategies and acquisition investments.

Physics - Curricula - Undersea Warfare

Undersea Warfare Curriculum

The NPS Undersea Warfare curriculum offers students the opportunity to study the fundamental principles that apply to the design, performance, and employment of sensors, unmanned vehicles, and tactics in the undersea environment. The program combines electrical and mechanical engineering, mathematics, oceanography, physics, and operations research into a multi-disciplinary program of study. This unique curriculum permits students to select a degree program based on personal interests and undergraduate education, providing more in-depth study in a specific area.  Such degrees include: Engineering Acoustics, Applied Math, Applied Physics, Physical Oceanography, Operations Research, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.  In addition, US Navy students earn a 6301P subspecialty code and Phase 1 JPME certification.

The NPS USW program is open to qualified US and international military officers and civil-service employees. To qualify for the NPS USW program, you must have a Bachelor’s degree and have completed sufficient calculus and calculus-based physics courses to earn an academic profile code (APC) of 323. You may apply at any time through our Admissions Office. Early application to the university is recommended so there is time to gather transcripts and for NPS to evaluate your records. If selected, students work through their detailer or personnel office on quota allotments and transfer dates. Students may begin the program in March or September.


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