Meet Your Major

Physics seeks to discover and describe the rules governing natural phenomena at all scales, from the building blocks of space-time to the large-scale structure of the universe.

The department of physics offers a wide range of courses related to this fundamental discipline, ranging from popular general-education courses, such as Introduction to Astronomy, to advanced courses, such as Electromagnetic Theory and Quantum Mechanics. Our major and minor programs are designed to serve the full spectrum of students who wish to undertake serious study in physics.

What You’ll Learn

In the physics program, you will:

  • Gain a firm mathematics foundation by studying calculus, differential equations and linear algebra.
  • Discover how physics breakthroughs have contributed to technological advances in a wide range of fields.
  • Delve into advanced physics theories and principles by taking courses in Quantum Mechanics and Electromagnetic Theory.
  • Have the option of selecting the embedded controller concentration to learn how to design, build and test low-power microprocessors found in an array of devices ranging from mobile phones to automobiles.

Hands-on Learning

You will have the opportunity to learn to operate Mendel Observatory and to participate in hosting open-observatory nights and other astronomy-related events.

Career Options

The study of physics develops highly valued and widely applicable analytical and quantitative abilities. This foundation can be tailored — in part through appropriately chosen electives from related or complementary fields — to prepare students for a wide array of careers and postgraduate opportunities, including but not limited to:

  • Direct entry into careers with a significant analytical and/or quantitative component.
  • Medical school, law school and M.B.A. and other professional programs.
  • Interdisciplinary graduate programs.
  • Graduate study in physics (B.S. or B.A. plus further physics and math electives strongly recommended)
  • Teaching high-school physics.

What You’ll Take

You may elect either the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in physics. The B.A. consists of nine physics courses and five mathematics courses, for a total of 54 credits. The B.S. requires an additional 12 credits of physics electives, for a total of 66 credits.

Requirements for Bachelor of Arts in Physics and *Bachelor of Science in Physics

*Note: B.S. requires an additional 12 credits of physics electives.

Mathematics

MTH 1217

Calculus I

MTH 1218

Calculus II

MTH 2219

Calculus III

MTH 2220

Differential Equations

MTH 3335

Linear Algebra

Physics

PHY 2211

Physics I

PHY 2212

Physics II

PHY 2241

Introduction to Quantum Physics

PHY 3304

Thermal Physics

PHY 3311

Analytical Mechanics I

PHY 3345

Electromagnetic Theory I

PHY 4412 

Quantum Mechanics I

PHY 4451 

Advanced Laboratory

PHY 4500

Mathematical Physics


Bachelor of Science in Physics requires twelve additional credits of physics-related electives chosen from among the following:

  • Additional upper-division physics courses
  • (AST 1101) Introduction to Astronomy
  • Upper-division courses from other departments approved by the physics department

Interdepartmental Contract Majors

The fundamental nature and quantitative aspects of physics make it a natural framework for the construction of a wide range of interdisciplinary “interdepartmental contract majors.” Students interested in this option should discuss the possibilities with a member of the physics department.

Education Certification

The physics B.A. or B.S. with a double major in education provides Merrimack students the opportunity to graduate with initial licensure to teach physics in grades 8-12. Students interested in a teaching career should connect with an adviser from the School of Education and Social Policy as soon as possible.