Physics (Major, Minor)

Math, Computer Studies, and Physics Department

Brian Christy, Ph.D.

Degrees offered



Main Campus

The Mathematics/Physics/Computer Information Systems Department of the School of Arts, Sciences, and Business offers a Major and Minor in Physics to students in the Women's College. Recognizing the role our field plays in other disciplines, we offer courses for department majors and non-majors that serve the students of NDMU in the Catholic Liberal Arts tradition. As an integral part of the liberal arts, we provide the students at NDMU with an understanding of the physical world, quantitative and technologically based knowledge, and enable our students to become leaders in their future professions.


Women's College

Physics represents humanity's most profound attempt to understand the universe in which we live by studying the events and interactions that occur in nature and by trying to comprehend the truths or laws that govern these physical processes. As the most fundamental and all-inclusive of the sciences, physics naturally forms an educational base from which students may enter many diverse occupations and careers. Graduates are employed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center the U.S. Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, Thornton Tomasetti, and the Peace Corps. Among the institutions where graduates have pursued advanced studies are Rochester University, Princeton University, Drexel University, George Washington University, University of Delaware, Delaware State, and Boston College.

Students majoring in physics must earn a 2.0 GPA in all courses required for the major.

Physics Majors may add an additional Major in a discipline such as Mathematics, Computer Studies or Chemistry, or Minor in one of several fields.

A student may fulfill the General Education Requirement in natural science by taking PHY-101, 111 (College of Adult Undergraduate Studies), 132 (College of Adult Undergraduate Studies), or 155. The cooperative program with neighboring colleges provides concentrators with a wide choice of upper-level courses and a variety of faculty viewpoints.

Programs of Study

Required Courses for a Major in Physics

       PHY-101 and PHY-102 General Physics I, II (8)
       PHY-201 Modern Physics (3)
       PHY-316L Classical Mechanics (3)
       PHY-314 Quantum Mechanics (3)
       PHY-315 Electricity and Magnetism (3)
       PHY-463 Investigations in Physics (1-4)
       2 or 3 upper electives (7+credits) chosen in consultation with your advisor
             CST 200, 300 or 400 level
             EDU/SPE 300 or 400 level
             EGR 200, 300 or 400 level (Loyola or other BSEP school)
             MAT 300 or 400 level
             PHY 300 or 400 level

Credit is earned for PHY 463 by completing one of the following:

      • Internship
      • Teaching Apprenticeship
      • Research Experience

       CHM-111 General Chemistry II (4)
       CST-171 Programming Concepts or CST-295 C++ Programming (3)

       MAT-212, MAT-213 Calculus II, III (7)
       MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields (1)
       MAT-243 Linear Algebra (3)
       MAT-315 Differential Equations (3)

Required Courses for a Minor in Physics 

       MAT-212 Calculus II (4)
       PHY-101 and PHY-102 General Physics I, II (8)
       PHY-201 Modern Physics (3)
       Plus one other course in mathematics, physics or computer science at the 200-level or higher (3)

Four-Year Plan

Below is a sample Program of Study for the Physics Major. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor.

Fall Spring 
First year      
PHY-101 General Physics I 4 PHY-102 General Physics II 4
MAT-211 Calculus I 4 MAT-212 Calculus II 4
ENG-101 College Writing 3 MAT-243 Linear Algebra or
CST-171 Program Concepts
NDMU-100 First Year Seminar 4 Foreign Language 3
[15 credits] [14 credits]
Second year      
PHY-201 Modern Physics 3 PHY-316L Classical Mechanics* 3
MAT-213 Calculus III 3 CHM-111 General Chemistry II 4
CHM-110 General Chem I 4 CST-171 Program Concepts or
MAT-243 Linear Algebra
General Education/Electives 6 General Education 3
[16 credits]   MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields 1
    [14 credits]
Third year      
PH 314 Quantum Mechanics* or 3 Program Electives 6
PH 315 Electricity & Magnetism I* 3 MAT 315 Differential Equations 3
Gen Education/Electives 9 Physical Education 1
[15 credits]   PHYS 330+ 3
    [16 credits]  
Fourth year      
PH 315 or PH 314 3 Program Electives 3
Gen Education/Electives 12 Gen Education/Electives 9
PHYS 463 1-4
[15 credits] [13-17 credits]

+ Need to take at least two Physics courses at level 300 or higher [excluding PHY 463]’

Depending on transfer credit and courses chosen, students must complete between 28-46 credit hours of General Education coursework. Please consult with the faculty advisor for your particular situation and which courses to take that best align with your interests and career path’

‘Students are required to take 120 credit hours total in order to earn the degree. Consult the faculty advisor for which courses are most appropriate to select based on interests and career goals.’

Need to take at least two physics courses at level 300 or higher

*Courses with a designation of "L" are taught at Loyola. Notre Dame students take the courses through the cooperative program. For more information, contact the Program Chair.


CHM-111 General Chemistry II

Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Explores descriptive and quantitative aspects of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, solutions, basic thermodynamics, electrochemistry, equilibrium, acids and bases, and kinetics. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture and emphasizes basic techniques such as titration, spectroscopy, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, along with inorganic synthesis and calculator-based experiments. Three lectures, one discussion period and one laboratory each week. High school algebra required. Prerequisites: CHM-110 with a minimum grade of C or permission of Chair. Permission of the instructor is required to enroll in CHM-111 if the prerequisite CHM-110 was not fulfilled at Notre Dame. [ 4 credits ]

CST-171 Programming Concepts

Introduces computer programming using the Python programming language. Emphasizes programming structures such as decisions, repetitions, sub procedures, functions, and arrays using program design with object-oriented concepts. Students learn to write a variety of program types to meet various business needs. Satisfies the technological competency requirement. [3 credits]

CST-295 C++ Object-Oriented Programming

Introduces object-oriented programming including objects, classes, inheritance and polymorphism. Includes high-level structures such as pointers and arrays as well as data structures with stacks and queues. Prerequisite: CST-171 or MAT-211. Satisfies the technological competency requirement. [3 credits]

MAT-211 Calculus I

Introduces functions, limits, continuity, differential calculus of polynomial, rational, exponential and logarithmic functions, as well as basic integration techniques. Applications are considered throughout the course with an emphasis on the life sciences. Weekly laboratory is an integral part of the course. Graphing calculators used to explore topics covered. Fulfills the General Education Requirement in Mathematics Prerequisite: Placement in MAT 211 or successful completion of MAT-107.  [4 credits]

MAT-212 Calculus II

Studies trigonometric functions, integration by parts and tables, improper integrals, functions of two variables, partial derivatives, double integrals, differential equations, geometric and power series, basic convergence tests, Taylor polynomials and series, and Fourier polynomials and series. Applications are considered throughout the course with an emphasis on the life sciences. Weekly laboratory is an integral part of the course. Graphing calculator is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus I or placement into MAT-212. [4 credits]

MAT-213 Calculus III

Covers visualization of functions of two variables, contour graphs, vector geometry, partial derivatives, gradient vector, directional derivatives, constrained optimization, double integral in rectangular and polar coordinates, triple integrals in rectangular, cylindrical and spherical coordinates. Applications are considered throughout the course. Mathematica is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus II or placement into MAT-213. [3 credits]

MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields

Analyzes parametric curves and surfaces, vector fields, line integrals and their applications, the Fundamental Theorem of Line Integrals, Green's Theorem, flux integrals, divergence and curl, Stokes' Theorem and the Divergence Theorem. Mathematica is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus III. [1 credit]

MAT-243 Linear Algebra

Studies systems of linear equations and their respective solution set. Material covered has use in such fields as physical and biological science, business, economics, computing and cryptography. Topics include matrices, vector spaces, linear transformations, determinants, eigenspaces and approximation techniques. Prerequisite: MAT-110 or MAT-211. [3 credits]

MAT-315 Differential Equations

Introduces the solution, applications and theory of ordinary differential equations. Topics include: solutions of differential equations, initial value problems, boundary value problems, Laplace transforms and series solutions. Prerequisite: MAT-212. [3 credits]

PHY-101 General Physics I

Studies the fundamental physical laws of nature and their use in understanding natural phenomena. Course provides a knowledge base for study in all areas of science and mathematics. Topics include kinematics, dynamics of motion, Newton's laws, rotational mechanics and conservation of energy and momentum. Development of the concepts of vector algebra and calculus are provided as needed. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory weekly. Fulfills general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]

PHY-102 General Physics II

Continues studies of the fundamental physical laws of nature and their use in understanding natural phenomena. Topics include classical wave motion, acoustics, optics, electricity and magnetism. Development of the concepts of vector algebra and calculus are provided as needed. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory weekly. [4 credits]

PHY-201 Modern Physics

Traces the development of ideas and theories that have shaped physics in the last 100 years. Topics include relativity, quantum theory, atomic and nuclear structure, particle physics and cosmology. Course can be used to fulfill minor in physics. Prerequisites: PHY-102 and MAT-212. [3 credits]

PHY-314 Quantum Mechanics

Develops the ideas of Quantum Mechanics using Schrodinger's Equation as applied to several interesting situatins, both 1D and 3D, as well as the mathematical formalisms utilized to derive the results. Applications involve atomic physics and other topics contingent upon time and interest. Prerequisites: PHY-201 and MAT-212. [ 3 credits ]

PHY-315 Electricity and Magnetism

Develops the ideas of Electricity and Magnetism utilizing vector calculus formalism. Solves Maxwell's equations for a variety of different charge and current sources. Prerequisites: PHY-201 and MAT-212. [ 3 credits ]

PHY-463 Investigation in Physics

Provides guided study of special topics of interest to the student under the direction of the instructor. [ 3-4 credits ]