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Department of Physics

125 Smith Hall
(585) 395-2182

Chairperson and Professor: Richard V. Mancuso; Associate Professor: Mohammed Z. Tahar; Assistant Professors: Eric M. Monier.


Physics Programs
Physics is the study of the fundamental properties and interactions of matter and energy; it has applications in virtually every field of pure and applied science, such as engineering, ­optics, materials science, space science, and medicine. A degree in physics, engineering, or astronomy is excellent preparation for:

  • Employment as an engineer or technician in industry, government, or a university ¬≠laboratory.
  • Graduate study in physics, engineering, astronomy, or mathematics, leading to careers in university and college teaching or leadership positions in industrial research projects.
  • Professional school in law, medicine, or business.
  • Teaching at the secondary (grades 7-12) level.

Mathematical Preparation
Students planning to major in physics should have completed algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in high school; pre-calculus and calculus are desirable but not necessary preparation.

Students who are unable to take Calculus I (MTH 201) in their first semester will be unable to complete a degree in physics in four years without summer study.

While at SUNY Brockport, every physics student must, as a minimum, complete courses in calculus, and differential equations (two courses). Students who plan to go on to graduate study in physics or engineering are encouraged to take additional mathematics courses.

Specialties Within the Physics Major
Students majoring in physics may choose from one of two specialties: physics or teacher certification. Students in these specialties must take the physics core course as well as required supporting courses in mathematics, chemistry, and computer science; further course work is then tailored to the individual specialty.

In addition to these specialties within the physics major, the department also offers a minor in physics.

  1. Physics Specialty
    This specialty is intended for students who plan to enter graduate school in physics or a related field, work in industry, enter law or medical school, or work as a technician or engineer.
  2. Certification for Secondary Teaching Specialty
    Physics, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Human Development, offers a specialty that leads to provisional certification in secondary level (grades 7-12) physics teaching. The physics course requirements for this track are identical to those for physics, however, additional course work outside the department is needed to satisfy the requirements for ­certification. For a complete listing of the requirements for secondary teacher certification, consult the Department of Education and Human Development in this catalog.

Physics Major Requirements

Number Physics Core: (Required of all physics specialties) Credits
PHS 201-202 College Physics I and II with Laboratory 8
PHS 300 Classical Physics 3
PHS 301 Mathematical Methods of Physics 3
PHS 302 Dynamical Systems 3
PHS 303 Classical Physics Laboratory 1
PHS 317 Modern Physics 3
PHS 318 Modern Physics Laboratory 1
PHS 320 Electricity and Magnetism 3
PHS 400-401 Physics Seminar I and II 2
Total: 27

Course requirements for each specialty within the physics major are listed below:

Numbers Class Credits
1. Physics Specialty:
Physics Core 27
PHS 408-409 Physical Methods Laboratory I-II 2
PHS 411 Quantum Mechanics 3
300/400 Level Physics Elective 3
Total: 35
Teacher Certification Specialty:
Physics Core 27
PHS 408-409 Physical Methods Laboratory I-II 2
PHS 411 Quantum Mechanics 3
300/400 Level Physics Elective 3
Total: 35
Supporting Courses: (Required of all physics specialties)
MTH 201-202-203 Calculus I-II-III 9
MTH 255 Differential Equations 3
MTH 456 Partial Differential Equations 3
CHM 205-206 College Chemistry I-II 8
CSC 203 Fundamentals of Computer Science 1 4
Total: 27
Minor in Physics:
PHS 201-202 College Physics I-II with Laboratory 8
PHS 300 Classical Physics 3
PHS 301 Mathematical Methods of Physics 3
PHS 303 Classical Physics Laboratory 1
and one of the following
PHS 317 Modern Physics 3
OR
PHS 302 Dynamical Systems 3
OR
PHS 320 Electricity and Magnetism 3
Total: 18

The physics specialty major can be completed in four years. To make normal progress toward this goal, students should have completed the following courses by the end of the sophomore year: PHS 201, 202, 300, 301, 303, 317, 318, MTH 201, 202, 203, CHM 205 and 206.

Transfer students with a two-year degree from a community college , in the physics specialty will, most likely, have to take PHS 300, 301 and 303 at SUNY Brockport. These courses are usually not offered at community colleges. The physics specialty major can still be completed in two years. It would be beneficial for transfer students to have had a course in differential equations. It is important that transfer students meet with their physics advisor before they register for their first semester courses. At this meeting their two-year schedule of courses can be established.

The teacher certification specialty major can be completed in five years. Students in this category should have completed the same courses as those in the physics specialty by the end of the sophomore year. It is important to be advised in the first semester to plan courses for the five years (10 semesters). One semester is entirely devoted to practice teaching. In addition to majoring in physics, teacher certification majors must take two semesters of biology, two semesters of chemistry and two semesters of earth science, as well as meeting the requirements of the Department of Education and Human Development.

Transfer students in the teacher certification specialty can expect to spend at least three years at SUNY Brockport. Students in this category should have completed the same courses as those transferring into the straight physics specialty. Transfer teacher certification majors should seek advisement prior to registering for their first semester of Brockport courses.

Physics Courses

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Astronomy Courses

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Last Updated 7/21/22