Physicists study the properties and behavior of matter and energy in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from the sub-microscopic particles from which all ordinary matter is made (particle physics) to the behavior of the Universe as a whole (cosmology). Physics primarily is the science that deals with exploring the Rules of Nature. The fundamental understanding of nature that comes from the study of physics is central to all of the natural sciences, applied sciences and technology; and, thus, profoundly affects the life of every human along with their environment.

The Department of Physics of Saint Joseph’s University offers students a comprehensive and flexible curriculum in the discipline of physics.  The program offers several advisory tracks (Materials Science and Nanotechnology, Astrophysics, Biophysics, Engineering Physics, Computational Physics and Engineering, Medical Physics, Physics Education, Pre-Med and Pre-Dental) which will allow students to specialize in variety of areas and prepare for a range of careers. The program begins with a core grouping of  three introductory physics courses (freshman and sophomore years) in the foundations of classical Newtonian mechanics and Maxwellian electricity and magnetism, geometrical optics, thermodynamics and fluids  along with a one-semester program in nonclassical (modern) physics: this course, based on developments in physics that occurred in the first quarter of the twentieth century, introduce students to quantum theory and special relativity. Each of the introductory physics courses is accompanied by a laboratory , which not only complements the didactic material but also trains the student in the methodology of doing experimental physics. During this time, students master the language of physics, i.e., mathematics. Students take three semesters of calculus, Differential Equations and Introduction to Linear Algebra. In addition, they are  exposed to modern computational techniques in Numerical Analysis. These physics and mathematics courses provide the foundation to explore a vast array of upper division courses, including physics electives in particular areas of interest. The upper-level courses include the study of classical mechanics, statistical mechanics , electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and experimental methods of physics. Elective topics include solid state physics, biophysics, nuclear and particle physics, computational physics, astrophysics, physics of fluids, advanced  quantum mechanics, complex systems and more.

The Department of Physics at Saint Joseph’s University has developed a research-oriented culture for both its faculty and students. Most students will engage in research, alongside faculty mentors, at some point during their four years.  The ability to put into practice what is learned in the classroom is paramount to the growth of the scientist and the professional. In the research laboratory, the student will learn to design and perform experiments, to analyze data using computational methods, and draw appropriate conclusions. Students will also be exposed to the interfaces of physics where physics meets biology, chemistry and engineering; to that end, the student of physics will witness how the methods of physics are central to addressing key problems in the disciplines of biology, chemistry and engineering. The various tracks will provide the students with an interdisciplinary education.

Undergraduates participate in research in three different ways. First, they may decide to take research for academic credit. Within the major, students take three physics electives and one or more of these may be used to perform scientific research under the guidance of our physics faculty. Second, students may opt to do research as a Summer Scholar. Saint Joseph’s University is well known for its 10 week Summer Scholars Research Program. Historically, the Physics Department, through the generosity of its alumni, Dean and Provost, has been able to provide stipends for all physics students who have wanted to do summer research. Students selected to participate in the Summer Scholars Program not only receive a stipend but also are provided low-cost housing by the University. Lastly, students may opt to volunteer in a laboratory at SJU or elsewhere.

Department Mission

At its core, the mission of the Department of Physics at Saint Joseph’s University is to educate students who are broadly trained in the discipline of physics, critical thinking and complex problem solving. They will have the ability to attack problems and enter professional areas, not only in the field of physics, but also in the areas of biology, chemistry, the applied sciences and engineering.  Graduates of the department will be able to succeed in a wide range of professional careers where the principles of physics and critical thinking skills associated with a degree in physics are used on a routine basis.

In the spirit of the mission of the university, we believe that our students, through the liberal arts training gleaned from the General Education Program, in particular the "ethical dimension in learning", and the concentration curriculum in physics, will become lifelong learners and will use their knowledge and education for the betterment of humanity.

The full-time faculty and staff in the Department of Physics at Saint Joseph's University have engaged in significant research and teaching with real-work knowledge and experience in a wide range of physics topics, including soft condensed matter, fluid dynamics, granular materials, patterns in solidification, crystallization, flame fronts, fluid flow, pattern formation and much more.

Department of Physics Faculty & Staff

The GEP requires that all students take either one semester of a lab-based natural science course (6 contact hours) or two semesters of lecture-only natural science courses. Students who wish to satisfy the natural science GEP by completing courses in Physics may do so by taking the first semester of the science majors, lab-based course sequence, PHY 101/PHY 101L or PHY 105/PHY 105L, or one of the lab-based, one-semester courses for non-science majors, as they become available.

Alternatively, students may fulfill one or both semesters of the natural science GEP by completing one or two of the special one-semester lecture-only Physics courses designed for non-science majors listed below.

Non-science majors Physics GEP lecture-only courses:

PHY 110Understanding Natural World3
PHY 111The Astronomical Universe3
PHY 112Energy: Problems & Promises3
PHY 114Tech Breakthroughs of 20th Cen3

Non-science majors Physics GEP lab-based courses:

PHY 115Investigations in Astronomy4

Undergraduate Major

Undergraduate Minor