Physics

Major/Minor

The Physics program explores events and interactions that occur in nature in order to comprehend the truths or laws that govern the physical world. As a fundamental and all-inclusive science, our curriculum forms an educational base for future careers in science and engineering.

Program Locations

Available Majors

  • Physics

Available Minors

  • Physics

Additional Study Options

What Makes Our Program Unique

The sequence of introductory physics courses in your first year are all taught by the same professor, providing a coherent presentation of foundational courses.

Upper level classes may be taken at Loyola University of Maryland, which is just a short walk away.

Faculty

Courses

  • General Chemistry I: CHM-110 (4 credits)

    Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore 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 strongly recommended. Satisfies the general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]
  • General Chemistry II: CHM-111 (4 credits)

    Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore 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 strongly recommended. 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 ]
  • Programming Concepts: CST-171 (3 credits)

    Introduces computer programming using a common small business language such as Microsoft Visual Basic. Emphasizes programming structures such as decisions, repetitions, sub procedures, functions, and arrays using structured program design with object-oriented concepts. Students learn to write a variety of program types to meet various business needs. [3 credits]
  • College Writing: ENG-101 (3 credits)

    Provides students with an understanding that clear thinking is fundamental to clear writing. It also demonstrates every stage of the composing process: generating and organizing ideas, prewriting and drafting, critiquing, revising, final editing and proofreading. In addition, students work to accomplish clarity, unity, coherence and emphasis in sentences, in paragraphs, and in the overall structure of an essay. They develop techniques of style and tone toward more fluent and appealing prose and strive to sharpen their analytical, critical and editing skills by interacting with other students about their own writing and about the writing of professionals. Students learn to use standard English and develop a sensitivity to sentence structure and diction and to appreciate effectively written prose and recognize characteristics that make such prose effective. To fulfill the general education requirement in composition a minimum grade of C is required. [3 credits]
  • Calculus I: MAT-211 (4 credits)

    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: strong high school algebra background or successful completion of MAT-107. [4 credits]

  • Calculus II: MAT-212 (4 credits)

    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]

  • Calculus III: MAT-213 (3 credits)

    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]

  • Calculus of Vector Fields: MAT-214 (1 credits)

    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]

  • Differential Equations: MAT-315 (3 credits)

    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]

  • General Physics I: PHY-101 (4 credits)

    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]

  • General Physics II: PHY-102 (4 credits)

    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]

  • Modern Physics: PHY-201 (3 credits)

    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]

Four-Year Plan

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
General Education/Elective 3 MAT-243 Linear Algebra or
CST-171 Program Concepts
3
ENG-101 College Writing 3 Foreign Language 3
NDM-100  3 General Education 3
[17 credits]   [17 credits]  
Second Year
PHY-201 Modern Physics 3 PHY-316L Classical Mechanics* 3
MAT-213 Calculus III 3 MAT-315 Differential Equations or Elective 3
CHM-110 General Chem I 4 CHM-111 General Chemistry II 4
General Education/Electives 6 CST-171 Program Concepts or
MAT-243 Linear Algebra
3
[16 credits]   General Education 3
    MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields 1
    [17 credits]  
Third Year
PH 415L Quantum Mechanics* or
PH 417L Electricity & Magnetism I*
3 #PH 450L Quantum Mech II* or
+PH 474L Electricity & Magnetism II*
3
+PH 307L Math. Meth. Phys.* 3 Elective or #MAT-315 3
Gen Education/Electives 9 Gen Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   Physical Education 1
    [16 credits]  
Fourth Year
PH 417L or PH 415L 3 #+PH 474L or +PH 450L 3
+PH 317L Thermal Physics* 3 Physics elective 3
Gen Education/Electives 9 Gen Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  

Notes:
# offered alternative years
+ 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

What to Expect Studying at Notre Dame of Maryland University

Small class sizes and personal attention enhance the student expertise, allowing for a combination of rich lecture and robust discussion.

Student
Danielle Neumeister
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Future Engineer

Student, NDMU Class of 2015 Mathematics, Physics

Notre Dame’s campus has seen lots of construction activity—and one of our students has helped bring some of those projects to fruition. Danielle spent the summer of 2014 as a project engineer intern with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, one of the country's largest general contracting and construction management companies.

Read story

Research Opportunities

One of the hallmarks of our rich educational environment is the opportunity to participate in research in your field of interest.

You may choose to conduct a research project and present your findings at Nancy Kreiter Student Research Day to fulfill the capstone requirement of the Physics program.

Additional Opportunities

  • Work with Dr. Christy on NANOGrav, a collaboration of radio astronomers attempting to detect low-frequency gravitational waves. This experience provides many opportunities for training programs, visits to radio telescopes, and a supportive environment at conferences.
  • Connect to researchers through the UMD GRAD-MAP program. GRAD-MAP offers a winter boot camp designed to instruct students in typical skills needed in graduate school and connect them to possible summer projects with researchers at UMD College-Park.
  • Discover even more opportunities at Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Faculty Student Collaborations

Past student collaborations with Dr. Christy have led to three papers [two published in Astrophysical Journal].

  • Brian Christy, Ryan Anella, Andrea Lommen, Lee Samuel Finn, Richard Camuccio, and Emma Handzo Optimization of NANOGrav’s Time Allocation for Maximum Sensitivity to Single Sources Astrophys. J. 794, 163 (2014) [arXiv:1409.7722].
  • Joseph SimonAbigail Polin, Andrea Lommen, Ben Stappers, Lee Samuel Finn, F.A Jenet, and Brian Christy Gravitational wave hotspots: Determining probable locations of single-source gravitational wave emission Astrophys. J 784 60 (2014) [arXiv:1402.114]
  • Emma Handzo, Brian Christy, Andrea Lommen, Delphine Perrodin The scaling of the RMS with Dwell Time in NANOGrav Pulsars [arXiv:1510.09084] Technical note, not for publication

Physics Careers

  • Science Research
  • Space and Astronomy
  • Engineering
  • Energy
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Geophysics and Meteorology

Internships & Employment

Graduates are employed at: