Course Catalog

Program in Physics


Michael Jordan, Senior Lecturer
Mirela Mustata, Assistant
Professor Mariam Ismail, Assistant Professor,
P. Jason White, Associate Professor



Housed in the Department of Chemistry and Physics, the program in Physics helps one understand the basic, universal laws of the natural world and appreciate how this knowledge is used to design diverse devices that have tremendous implications for our lives, such as pacemakers, artificial limbs, integrated circuits, or rocket engines. Physics also enhances preparation for careers in medicine, health sciences, industry, and education. Courses emphasize the applications of physics and provide important problem-solving skills as well as laboratory and computer-related experience. Students who major in Physics can use up to one AP test score of five to replace PHYS 114, a core requirement of the major. Students who major in Physics can use an IB test score of six or seven to replace a core requirement of the major PHYS 114 or PHYS 114 and PHYS 115, respectively.

Learning Outcomes

All our graduates will be able to:
1. Master a broad set of knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, waves, and modern physics).
2. Solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problem. They will be able to rationally estimate the solution to a problem, apply appropriate techniques to arrive at a solution, test the correctness of the solution, and interpret their results.

All our graduates will demonstrate the ability to:
1. Understand the objective of their experiments; properly carry out the experiments; troubleshoot experiments; appropriately record and analyze the results; understand what
constitutes “reasonable” data; estimate the error bounds on their measurements.
2. Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments.
3. Know and follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of materials electricity, lasers, and other potentially hazardous equipment.
4. Communicate the concepts and results of their laboratory experiments through effective writing and oral communication skills.
5. Use computers in data acquisition and processing and use available software as a tool in data analysis.
6. Employ modern library search tools to locate and retrieve scientific information about a topic, a material, an instrument, or an issue relating to physics.

All graduates will:
1. Maintain the integrity of data and demonstrate high ethical and professional standards in reporting of information in accordance with the American Physical Society guidelines for Professional Conduct.
2. Act in a highly ethical professional capacity as a scientist in their articulation, evaluation and employment of techniques and processes that are benign for human health and the environment which include but are not limited to the 12 Principles of Green Engineering and the Principles of Global Sustainability set forth by the Report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, in 1987.
3. Successfully pursue their career objectives such as in advanced education in professional and/or graduate schools, in a scientific career in government or industry, in a teaching career, or in a related career following graduation.
4. Function successfully as part of a team, exhibit good citizenship in group interactions, and be an active contributor to group projects.

Departmental Honors

Honors in Physics:
The Department of Chemistry and Physics will grant Chemistry & Physics Departmental Honors to students graduating with majors within the Department who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or above and also earned an “Honors Thesis” designation. An “Honors Thesis” designation will be awarded to an exceptional senior thesis completed for Independent Study within the Department; earning an A on all three categories— work in the laboratory, written thesis document, and thesis defense.