PHYSICS (PHYS)

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics
Owens Science Hall (OWS) 153, (651) 962-5213
Lopez del Puerto (chair), Green, Jalkio, Johnston, Ohmann, Ruch, Wood; Davies, Nellermoe, Schuler, Thomas

Physics Department Web Site

Physics majors learn the fundamental laws that govern the physical universe, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest galaxies to the very structure of space and time. Emphasis is placed on general understanding, problem solving, and the communication skills essential for success in a career grounded in science. In the laboratory, students use state-of-the-art instrumentation in applying physics to a wide variety of systems. Opportunities are available for students to participate in research projects during the school year and over the summer.

There are three educational options from which to choose: a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree; a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree; or a minor in physics. The B.S. degree provides the necessary background for students interested in graduate school, engineering or industrial work; the Bachelor of Arts degree gives a solid background in physics with the flexibility to meet other needs, including preparation for professional programs such as medicine or patent law, or for students double majoring in areas such as mathematics or electrical engineering.

For students interested in teacher licensure, see the various combinations of science education in the School of Education Department of Teacher Education in this catalog.

Transfer students can transfer a maximum of 16 credits in physics towards the physics degree and 12 credits towards the minor. Physics courses taken at other colleges by students already matriculated at St. Thomas may be credited toward the requirements of the major only with prior and explicit written approval of the department chair.

The department offers courses for non-majors to fulfill the laboratory science component of the core curriculum.

Graduation with Honors in Physics

Students graduating with a B.A. or B.S. degree in physics may also qualify for departmental honors. Students interested in this designation must consult with the department chair one year or more before graduation. All requirements must be met one month before graduation.

  1. Complete four credits in 400-level physics research or the equivalent research experience
  2. Prepare a written thesis in the format of primary literature
  3. Defend the thesis before a panel composed of:
    • Thesis director (chair of committee)
    • Two additional St. Thomas physics faculty
    • One St. Thomas faculty member outside of physics
  4. Achieve a final cumulative grade point average in physics department courses of 3.50 and overall GPA of 3.50
  5. Present their research at a scientific meeting beyond the St. Thomas community 

Major in Physics (B.S.)

  • PHYS 211 Introduction to Classical Physics I (4 credits)
  • PHYS 212 Introduction to Classical Physics II (4 credits)
  • PHYS 215 Foundations of Modern Physics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 225 Applications of Modern Physics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 331 Theoretical Mechanics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 341 Electricity and Magnetism (4 credits)
  • PHYS 410 Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 431 Quantum Mechanics (4 credits)
Plus 8 credits from the following:
  • PHYS 323 Methods of Experimental Physics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 325 Methods of Computational Physics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 481 Engineering Design Clinic II (4 credits)
Plus:
  • Four additional Physics elective credits
Plus:
  • Four additional Physics or Allied elective credits

Allied Requirements:

  • MATH 113 Calculus I (4 credits)
  • MATH 114 Calculus II (4 credits)
  • MATH 200 Multi-Variable Calculus (4 credits)
  • MATH 210 Introduction to Differential Equations and Systems (4 credits)
  • MATH 240 Linear Algebra (4 credits)
  • ENGR 240 Circuit Analysis OR ENGR 350 Introduction to Electronics (4 credits)
  • CISC 130 Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving in the Sciences
    OR CISC 131 Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving (4 credits)
Physics Elective Courses:
  • PHYS 104 Astronomy (4 credits)
  • Any PHYS course numbered 150 or above.
Allied Elective Courses:
  • CHEM 331 Chemical Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • CHEM 332 Quantum Chemistry (4 credits)
  • ENGR 342 Electromagnetic Waves (4 credits)
  • ENGR 361 Engineering Materials (4 credits)
  • ENGR 368 Fluid Mechanics for CE (4 credits)
  • ENGR 381 Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 385 Fluid Mechanics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 481 Engineering Design Clinic II (4 credits)
  • MATH 400 Dynamical Systems and Chaos (4 credits)

Note: Depending on a student’s interest and career goals, substitutions may be made for other advanced courses in Engineering, Mathematics, or Chemistry, for certain listed courses, in consultation with the physics department chair.


Major in Physics (B.A.)

  • PHYS 211 Introduction to Classical Physics I (4 credits)
  • PHYS 212 Introduction to Classical Physics II (4 credits)
  • PHYS 215 Foundations of Modern Physics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 225 Applications of Modern Physics (4 credits)
Plus four credits from the following:
  • PHYS 323 Methods of Experimental Physics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 325 Methods of Computational Physics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 481 Engineering Design Clinic II (4 credits)
Plus:
  • Eight additional Physics elective credits
Plus:
  • Four additional Physics or Allied elective credits

Allied Requirements:

  • MATH 113 Calculus I (4 credits)
  • MATH 114 Calculus II (4 credits)
  • MATH 200 Multi-variable Calculus (4 credits)
  • MATH 210 Introduction to Differential Equations and Systems (4 credits)
  • ENGR 240 Circuit Analysis OR ENGR 350 Introduction to Electronics (4 credits)
  • CISC 130 Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving in the Sciences
    OR CISC 131 Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving (4 credits)
Physics Electives Courses:
  • PHYS 104 Astronomy (4 credits)
  • Any PHYS course numbered 150 or above.
Allied Electives Courses:
  • CHEM 331 Chemical Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • CHEM 332 Quantum Chemistry (4 credits)
  • ENGR 342 Electromagnetic Waves (4 credits)
  • ENGR 361 Engineering Materials (4 credits)
  • ENGR 368 Fluid Mechanics for CE (4 credits)
  • ENGR 381 Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 385 Fluid Mechanics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 481 Engineering Design Clinic II (4 credits)
  • MATH 400 Dynamical Systems and Chaos (4 credits)

Note: Depending on a student’s interest and career goals, substitutions may be made for other advanced courses in Engineering, Mathematics, or Chemistry, for certain listed courses, in consultation with the physics department chair.


Pre- Engineering

See Pre-Professional Programs


 

Teacher Licensure

Elementary Education with a Co-major in Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education
Elementary Education with a Specialty in Science (5-8)
Co-major in Science (5-8) – Physics (9-12) and a Co-major in Secondary Education

See Education


 

Minor in Physics

  • PHYS 211 Introduction to Classical Physics I (4 credits)
  • PHYS 212 Introduction to Classical Physics II (4 credits)
Plus:
  • Eight additional Physics elective credits
Plus:
  • Four additional Physics or Allied elective credits
Physics Elective Courses:
  • PHYS 104 Astronomy (4 credits)
  • Any PHYS course numbered 150 or above.
Allied Elective Courses:
  • CHEM 331 Chemical Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • CHEM 332 Quantum Chemistry (4 credits)
  • ENGR 342 Electromagnetic Waves (4 credits)
  • ENGR 361 Engineering Materials (4 credits)
  • ENGR 368 Fluid Mechanics for CE (4 credits)
  • ENGR 381 Thermodynamics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 385 Fluid Mechanics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 481 Engineering Design Clinic II (4 credits)
  • MATH 400 Dynamical Systems and Chaos (4 credits)

Note: Depending on a student’s interest and career goals, substitutions may be made for other advanced courses in Engineering, Mathematics, or Chemistry, for certain listed courses, in consultation with the physics department chair.

Course Number Title Credits
PHYS  101 Physics for Liberal Arts I 4
PHYS  104 Astronomy 4
PHYS  105 Musical Acoustics 4
PHYS  109 Physics for Life Sciences I 4
PHYS  110 Physics for Life Sciences II 4
PHYS  211 Classical Physics I 4
PHYS  212 Classical Physics II 4
PHYS  215 Foundations of Modern Physics 4
PHYS  225 Applications of Modern Physics 4
PHYS  243 Individual Study 1 TO 4
PHYS  269 Research 2 OR 4
PHYS  295 Topics 2
PHYS  296 Topics 2
PHYS  297 Topics 4
PHYS  298 Topics 4
PHYS  323 Methods of Exp. Physics 4
PHYS  325 Methods of Comp. Physics 4
PHYS  331 Theoretical Mechanics 4
PHYS  341 Electricity & Magnetism 4
PHYS  347 Optics 4
PHYS  354 Astrophysics 4
PHYS  389 Research 2 OR 4
PHYS  393 Individual Study 2 OR 4
PHYS  398 Topics 4
PHYS  410 Stat Mech and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS  431 Quantum Mechanics 4
PHYS  487 Topics 2
PHYS  488 Topics 2
PHYS  489 Topics 4
PHYS  490 Topics 4
PHYS  491 Individual Research 2 OR 4
PHYS  495 Individual Study 1 TO 4