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Every generation faces new and complex challenges. In content, physics seeks to understand the properties and behavior of the fundamental constituents of nature – matter and energy – leading to an exploration spanning from the subatomic scale of atoms and nuclei (particle physics) to the cosmic scale of galaxies and the Universe (astrophysics and cosmology).   But the critical thinking skills that students master through their analysis of these various complex physical systems are transferable toward the solution of all complex problems.  For this reason, a physics-based education provides a strong foundation upon which numerous career and research paths can begin – be they in the sciences, engineering, humanities, or business. 

Guided by the University Mission, and driven by a commitment to the common good and to the education of the whole person, it is the goal of the physics department to be a learning community that fosters thought, discussion, and exploration through meaningful interactions among students and faculty and provides students with an educational experience that is tailored to their specific passions and interests.  Toward that end, we offer degrees in physics, biophysics, engineering physics, and applied physics.


The program in physics is designed to familiarize students with the techniques of mathematical and experimental physics that would be useful to them in an industrial research or engineering position; in physics teaching; as a general preparation for more advanced graduate work in any of the varied fields of physics; or in such disciplines as astronomy, space science, biophysics, computer science, engineering, geophysics, medicine, law, and oceanography.


The biophysics program is highly interdisciplinary, providing students with the background and techniques of biology, chemistry and physics necessary to enter this rapidly growing field. The program’s flexibility is intended to allow students to tailor their experience toward their personal interests, be it in industrial research, engineering, teaching, or health-science. The program’s structure is intended to prepare a student for the rigors of advanced degree programs in biophysics as well as a wide variety of other fields of physics, law, medicine, health sciences, and biotechnology.

Engineering Physics

The engineering physics program combines courses in physics and mathematics with several diverse courses in engineering. Serving the foundation of the program is a set of courses that provides a fundamental understanding of traditional topics in physics. Overarching these “foundational” courses are a set of “engineering” courses  that focus on the application of scientific principles toward the design and construction of structures, materials, devices and systems that serve an intended function. The program is intended for students who want a solid foundation in physics and a rigorous set of engineering courses that will allow them to pursue an engineering related career or an advanced degree in engineering (the 4+2 option).

Applied Physics

The applied physics program is designed to provide a broad education in the physical sciences, mathematics, and liberal arts, along with specialized training for students interested in engineering, medical school, health sciences, education, business, social sciences, or the humanities. This program combines the study of physics with a concentrated study in another area or discipline that may be chosen from the sciences, mathematics, the humanities, the social sciences, business, and education. 

  • Our Universe: Environmental Science
    This course will examine natural and human-induced causes affecting the environment from a physics/engineering perspective. Students will first address the way science interfaces with the climate change, energy policy and sustainability, urban infrastructure, environmental health and the impact of developing economies, and the role of technology and scientific innovation in addressing the environmental problems.
  • Forensic Studies
    This course will explain the intriguing work of crime scene investigators from a physics standpoint. Included are techniques to find out how a crime happened, e. g. ballistics, blood pattern analysis and skid marks, and techniques to investigate traces that lead to an identification of the perpetrator like bite marks, fingerprints and body fluids.
  • Thermodynamics
    Thermodynamic variables and processes, internal energy of a system, first and second laws of thermodynamics, Carnot cycle, entropy, and irreversibility.
  • Modern Physics II
    Natural and artificial radioactivity, nuclear reactions, high-energy physics, and fundamental particles.