Physics, Bachelor of Arts - PHYS

Program Description

The program in physics allows students to investigate the microscopic and the macroscopic through courses covering topics such as astronomy, nuclear physics, classical mechanics, modern physics, and quantum mechanics.

The B.A. in Physics is highly flexible, making it possible to combine studies in physics with other programs, thereby supporting careers in biophysics, computational modeling, economic modeling, history of science, medicine, philosophy of science, physical chemistry and teaching high school science.

For those interested in a career in aerospace, structural civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering, the degrees offered in Physics, both B.A. and B.S., nicely complement the Five-Year Dual Degree Program in Engineering with the University of Notre Dame.

Major Requirements (37-41 Hours)

PHYS 121General Physics I: Mechanics and Waves4
PHYS 122General Physics II: Temperature, Electricity, and Light4
PHYS 253General Physics III: Modern Physics3
Select two of the following:2
Computational Physics Laboratory
Modern Experimental Laboratory
Wave Mechanics Laboratory
Select three of the following:9
Classical Mechanics
Quantum Mechanics
Electricity and Magnetism
Select one additional 200+ level PHYS course3
Required Supporting Courses
Select one of the following:4-8
Calculus I
and Calculus II for STEM majors
Theory and Application of Calculus
MATH 231Calculus III4
MATH 326Linear Algebra and Differential Equations4
Total Credits37-41

Senior Comprehensive

The Senior Comprehensive requirement in Physics is fulfilled by successfully completing two presentations, one in a poster format and one 15 minute oral presentation. Both are given in the second semester of the senior year and include a question and answer period with faculty. The topic of the presentation may be based on experimental laboratory research performed at Saint Mary’s or at another institution, or literature research on an approved topic. Emphasis is placed on explaining the physics of the research. An abstract of the topic is also required prior to the oral presentation.

Advanced Writing Proficiency

Each student writes a formal paper consisting of a technical discussion of the relevant physical principles, mathematics and methods related to her oral comprehensive presentation. These are normally submitted during the first semester of the senior year.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • create a conceptual framework for modeling a system using laws of nature, physical principles, and other practical constraints.
  • produce concise solutions to physical problems.
  • apply knowledge of physics and mathematics to real world situations.
  • demonstrate essential research skills including: practicing laboratory safety and performing error analysis.
  • critically evaluate scientific literature.
  • effectively communicate scientific results.