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Physics/Physics Education

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Minor

The physics program at Saint Vincent College offers an excellent education in one of the most important research fields of our time. Students can learn about and specialize in renewable energy, nuclear physics, the cosmos, our climate and much more. Our expert faculty teaches and mentors students, providing theoretical knowledge and giving practical experience in our state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories. After graduating with a degree in physics, our students continue their education in graduate school or begin a successful career in the field.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Physics?

Majoring in physics or physics education opens up possibilities for a wide variety of fields. Physics plays a vital role in many technology-based industries, including nanotechnology, computing and renewable energy.

Astrophysics, medical physics, geophysics and meteorology are also popular fields. Physics education allows our students to be well prepared to teach physics concepts to elementary, middle and high school students.

But physics graduates are not restricted to physics-related fields. Their ability to model complex system is valuable in finance, while their logical approach and ability to understand new technology is useful especially in patent law. Employers in any field value physics graduates’ ability to quickly grasp new concepts, determination to find coherent answers and analytical as well as mathematical skills.

In short, studying physics is a great way to prepare students for a career after college. On average, physics graduates earn more than graduates of most other subjects, including psychology, biology, linguistics and history.

Curriculum Requirements

  • Requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics or Physics Education

    All majors must complete college core curriculum.

    College Core (48 credits):
    TH 119 First Theology (freshman year) - 3 credits
    Theology (200 Level) - 3 credits
    Theology (300 Level) - 3 credits
    History (100 Level) - 3 credits
    History (200 Level) - 3 credits
    PL 101 1st Philosophy - 3 credits
    Philosophy Elective (PL 215 Ethics suggested) - 3 credits
    Natural Science 100 level with lab - 4 credits
    Natural Science 200 level with lab - 4 credits
    EL 102 Language and Rhetoric (freshman year) - 3 credits
    English Elective (Literature Course) - 3 credits
    English Elective - 3 credits
    Fine Arts (100 Level) - 3 credits
    Foreign Language Intermediate Level - 3 credits
    Foreign Language Intermediate Level - 3 credits
    First-Year Seminar (additional hour) - 1 credit

    Major Requirements for B.S. in Physics (68 credits):
    PH 100 Physics Seminar - 1 credit
    PH 111 General Physics I - 3 credits
    PH 112 General Physics II - 3 credits
    PH 113 General Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 114 General Physics II Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 211 Modern Physics I - 3 credits
    PH 213 Modern Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 215 Thermodynamics - 3 credits
    PH 221 Classical Mechanics - 3 credits
    PH 241 Optics - 3 credits
    PH 243 Optics Laboratory -1 credit
    PH 244 Advanced Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 252 Electromagnetic Fields - 3 credits
    PH 261 Electronics - 3 credits
    PH 263 Electronics Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 311 Modern Physics II - 3 credits
    PH 322 Quantum Mechanics - 3 credits
    PH 341 Condensed Matter Physics - 3 credits
    PH 370 Mathematical Physics - 3 credits
    PH 381 Research - 1 credit
    MA 111-113 Calculus I-III - 12 credits
    MA 114 Differential Equations - 4 credits
    CH 101, 103 General Chemistry I and Laboratory - 4 credits
    CH 102, 104 General Chemistry II and Laboratory - 4 credits

    A thesis is required in the senior year.

     

    Major Requirements for a B.S. in Physics Education (68 credits): 

    NSCI 100 Astronomy - 3 credits
    NSCI 101 Astronomy Laboratory - 1 credit
    NSCI 135 Physical Geology - 3 credits
    NSCI 136 Physical Geology Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 100 Physics Seminar - 1 credit
    PH 111 General Physics I - 3 credits
    PH 112 General Physics II - 3 credits
    PH 113 General Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 114 General Physics II Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 211 Modern Physics I - 3 credits
    PH 213 Modern Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 215 Thermodynamics - 3 credit
    PH 221 Classical Mechanics - 3 credits
    PH 241 Optics - 3 credits
    PH 243 Optics Laboratory - 1  credit
    PH 244 Advanced Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 261 Electronics - 3 credits
    PH 263 Electronics Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 322 Quantum Mechanics - 3 credits
    PH 381 Research - 1 credit
    MA 111-113 Calculus I-III - 12 credits
    MA 114 Differential Equations - 4 credits
    CH 101, 103 General Chemistry I and Laboratory - 4 credits
    CH 102, 104 General Chemistry II and Laboratory - 4 credits
    BL 150, 151 General Biology and Laboratory - 4 credits

    A thesis is required in the senior year.

    See Education Department  for Education course requirements.

  • Requirements for a Minor in Physics

    Requirements for a Physics Minor (19 credits): 

    PH 111 General Physics - 3 credits
    PH 112 General Physics II - 3 credits
    PH 113 General Physics Laboratory I - 1 credit
    PH 114 General Physics Laboratory II - 1 credit


    In addition, select 11 credits from courses numbered above PH 200, including at least one of the following:
    PH 213 Modern Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 243 Optics Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 244 Advanced Laboratory - 1 credit
    PH 263 Electronics Laboratory - 1 credit
    MA 111-112 Calculus I-II are prerequisites for General Physics.
    MA 113-114 Calculus III-IV are recommended electives.

Program Highlights

Results

  • Our students have a 100-percent acceptance to graduate programs in Physics and Engineering, with regular financial aid awards. About 60 percent of our students go to graduate school in Physics and Engineering. Among the graduate schools, our students have obtained offers at the University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, College of William and Mary and Purdue University. 
  • The department has an excellent record in the area of Summer Fellowship and Research offers. Among the places where our students did their training are: Duke University, Michigan State University, NASA, Pennsylvania State University, Bucknell University and Naval Research Labs. 
  • The department also has an excellent record in teacher placement. Among the places where our students teach Physics and Math are: Greater Latrobe School District, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Derry Area, Connellsville, Penn Trafford and Franklin Regional. 
  • In addition, the department has an excellent record in placing students in industrial jobs. Among places where our students work are: FBI, Lawrence Livermore Lab, Westinghouse, Microsoft, Naval Submarine Program, PPG, Alcoa and UPMC. 
  • Many of our students have published their research work with their professors in some of the most prestigious physics journals. Among such journals are the American Journal of Physics and the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 

Student Work and Research in Physics

During their time at Saint Vincent College, physics students have the ability to utilize to state-of-the-art equipment in our Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion in the classroom and for their own research. As a result, our students have conducted research in a wide variety of subjects:

  • Electromagnetic properties of atoms
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Model rocket design and performance
  • Physics Education
  • Friction on the nano scale
  • UV properties of quasars
  • Circuit design
  • Plasma physics
  • Computational physics
  • Nuclear physics

Physics students at Saint Vincent College have gained national recognition by publishing their research in some of the most prestigious professional journals of the field. Our professors work closely with their students to ensure smooth publication. Past articles include:

  • C. A. Burkholder with M. A. Maize, “Electric polarizability and the solution of an inhomogeneous differential equation,” Am. J. Phys. 63, 244-247 (1995).
  • S. Paulson and A. D’Avanti with M. A. Maize, “Electric polarizability of a relativistic particle,” Am. J. Phys. 65, 888-892 (1997).
  • Michael Williams with M. A. Maize, “The nonrelativistic frequency-dependent polarizability of a bound particle,” Am. J. Phys. 72, 691-694 (2003).
  • M. A. Antonacci with M. A. Maize and F. Marsiglio, “The static electric polarizability of a particle bound by a finite potential well,” Am. J. Phys. 79, 222-225 (2011).

Internships and Careers in Physics

Physics students at Saint Vincent College gain valuable theoretical and practical experience in our classrooms and laboratories. But their education doesn’t end there; every year, our students complete summer fellowships to research at prestigious institutions such as Duke University, Michigan State University, NASA, Pennsylvania State University, University of Bucknell, University of Glasgow and Naval Research Labs.

As a result, our students are ideally prepared to begin their career path after graduation. Recent physics graduates from Saint Vincent College now work at the FBI, Lawrence Livermore Lab, Westinghouse, Microsoft, Naval Submarine Program, PPG, Alcoa and UPMC.

Recent physics education graduates now teach physics and math locally at Latrobe School District, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield, Derry Township, Connellsville, Penn Trafford and Franklin Regional; regionally in Westmoreland, Somerset, Beaver, Fayette counties; and as well as nationally in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado and California. In fact, our department has a 95 percent success rate for graduates obtaining a teacher certification in the United States.

But many physics students also chose to continue their education after graduating from Saint Vincent College. Institutions such as the University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, College of William and Mary and Purdue University have helped recent graduates continue their studies. In all, 95 percent of our graduates are accepted to doctoral or masters programs, 20 percent higher than the average. Meanwhile, 70 percent of our students are accepted to M.D. programs, which is 15 percent better than the national average.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Use knowledge of the fundamental theoretical fields of physics to solve problems.
  • Perform careful physics laboratory experiments.
  • Interpret physics experimental results.
  • Explain physical principles to others in both oral and written formats.
  • Develop independent research.