Physics, Bachelor of Science - 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.S. in Physics is a curriculum designed to prepare students for graduate school in physics. The B.S. in Physics also provides adequate preparation for tradi­tional physics professions in the private sector, the military, academia and national laboratories. Physicists work in industries including construction, education, energy, defense, finance, law, medical, music, space, sports, television, transportation, and even video game development.

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 (61 Hours)

PHYS 121General Physics I: Mechanics and Waves4
PHYS 122General Physics II: Temperature, Electricity, and Light4
PHYS 253General Physics III: Modern Physics3
PHYS 323Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 343Thermodynamics3
PHYS 424Quantum Mechanics3
PHYS 444Electricity and Magnetism3
PHYS 495Senior Seminar1
Select two of the following:2
Computational Physics Laboratory
Modern Experimental Laboratory
Wave Mechanics Laboratory
Required Supporting Courses
CHEM 121
Principles of Chemistry I
and Principles of Chemistry I Laboratory
CHEM 122
Principles of Chemistry II
and Principles of Chemistry II Laboratory
CPSC 207Computer Programming3
MATH 131
MATH 132
Calculus I
and Calculus II for STEM majors
or MATH 133 Theory and Application of Calculus
MATH 231Calculus III4
MATH 326Linear Algebra and Differential Equations4
Elective Courses
Select additional 200+ level technical electives in science, computer science, mathematics, or engineering to total 60 credit hours8
Total Credits61

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.