The sense of wonder that comes from the contemplation of reality is the first step in the long road toward knowing the truth about ourselves and the world that surrounds us. Higher education is a means of furtherance along that road. In the university, we come into contact, in a deep and serious manner, with truths that are universal and knowledge which transcends mere utility. These have been gained through the experiences and labours of many generations of scholars.

The universal truths may be classified as Divine, human, and natural and incorporated into ordered bodies of knowledge by the theological and philosophical, human, and natural sciences, respectively. The study of these three areas is the basis of an authentic liberal arts education, one that aims to form minds in the pursuit of truth and virtue. Modernity has falsely separated these, and placed them in opposition. We believe that all sciences can work together in a fruitful dialogue that respects the proper place of each.

Physics was born from the contemplation of the rationality of the material world. A Physics Major at Ave Maria University provides students the opportunity to read the book of nature and to know the beauty of its Author.

Scientific advancement, and the concommitant technological development that such progress engenders, provide ongoing expansion of means for the practice of the corporal works of mercy, at both the societal and individual levels. The study of physics enables some individuals to realize their vocations and garner productive employment.

Explore the Physics Program

In conjunction with the University’s Core curriculum, we strive to provide a first-rate education in the sciences and humanities in an environment that is authentically Catholic. In particular, we believe that the physical sciences are not simply technological disciplines, but are truly liberal arts in which we seek to know truth for its own sake.

Physics was born from the contemplation of the rationality of the material world. The Physics major provides students the opportunity to read the book of nature and to know the beauty of its composer.

Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
– Albert Einstein

Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not… to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are.
– Richard Feynman

The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind.
– Abdus Salam

The physics major program at AMU has four points of emphasis:

1. Acquisition of the subject material: We offer a challenging introduction to the scientific discipline of physics through rigorous sequences of courses and associated laboratories. We provide individual attention to our students, which goes well beyond merely imparting information, and allows us to assist them in developing complex problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

2. Experiment: The laboratory components of the physics major program introduce the essentials of scientific experimentation. The program culminates in the Advanced Laboratory capstone.

3. Research: Program faculty members are active in scholarship and research. We are committed to fostering an appreciation for research among physics students. We also encourage interested and capable undergraduates to participate in faculty-led research activities.

4. Vocational variety: Physics majors are prepared to embark on a wide variety of post-baccalaureate careers. AMU physics students have gone on to enter graduate programs in physics, chemical engineering, software engineering, and statistics; to serve in the military; to work in a high-tech industrial laboratory setting; to write actuarial exams; and to teach K-12 science.

In addition to the core curriculum, physics majors take the following courses

  • CHEM 125 General Chemistry I
  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 250 Calculus II
  • MATH 251 Vector Calculus
  • MATH 252 Ordinary Differential Equations
  • MATH 270 Scientific Programming
  • PHYS 221 University Physics: Mechanics
  • PHYS 222 University Physics: Materials
  • PHYS 223 University Physics: Electricity and Magnetism
  • PHYS 321 Modern Physics
  • PHYS 490 Advanced Laboratory

Elective Courses (Choose at least four)

  • PHYS 197 Undergraduate Research
  • PHYS 226 Mathematical Methods for Introductory Physics I
  • PHYS 297 Undergraduate Research
  • PHYS 330 Intermediate Mechanics
  • PHYS 341 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • PHYS 350 Intermediate Electromagnetism
  • PHYS 355 Electric Circuits with laboratory
  • PHYS 361 Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHYS 362 Quantum Mechanics II
  • PHYS 386 Simulations in Physics
  • PHYS 397 Undergraduate Research
  • PHYS 415 Special Topics
  • PHYS 497 Undergraduate Research

What engineering possibilities exist at Ave Maria?

At this time, Ave Maria University does not offer programs of study in engineering or computer science. Students interested in engineering or computer science may find that studying Physics or Mathematics is a satisfying alternative. Training in physics and mathematics, especially in a strong liberal arts context, provides a solid foundation upon which a variety of careers may be built. Furthermore, the physics, mathematics, and other courses offered at Ave Maria University satisfy many requirements for pre-engineering and computer science programs nationwide. Physics majors have enjoyed post-baccalaureate success and achievement in diverse fields.


The American Physical Society (APS),  http://www.aps.orgExternal link, has data and distilled wisdom/advice pertinent to career arcs of physics majors.  See especially: link.

Past physics majors have participated in (external, competitive) Research Experience for Undergraduates programs and internships.

Tony Barbosa, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Education: B.S., Chemistry, Providence College; M.S., Organic Chemistry, University of Rochester; Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Rochester
Office: Henkels 3050
Phone: (239) 280-1584

Ronald Freeze, Ph.D.

Adjunct Instructor of Chemistry
Education: B.A., Chemistry Education, University of Northern Iowa; Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, Iowa State University

Daniel Sadasivan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Physics
B.A., Mathematics, Ave Maria University; M.A., Philosophy, George Washington University; Ph.D., Physics, George Washington University
Office: Henkels 3047A
Phone: (230) 348-4705

Stephen Thong, Ph.D.

Chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department, Assistant Professor of Chemistry 
Education: B.Sc., Chemistry, Bowling Green State University; M.Sc., Chemistry, Northwestern University; Ph.D., Chemistry, Northwestern University
Office: AB 3048
Phone: (239) 304-7940