A comprehensive liberal arts education provides the context for students to discern their academic and occupational calling and the multi-faceted preparation necessary for achieving their goals.

For its part, the Department of Chemistry and Physics is committed

  • To offering a rigorous education to its students
  • To offering opportunities for participation in faculty-guided research
  • And to fostering an authentic Catholic and liberal-learning environment in which the dignity of the human person is respected and the pursuit of truth is undertaken without reservation or bias.

The Physics program offers all students an introduction to the theoretical and experimental bases of natural science. Introductory Physics courses fulfill the AMU Core Science requirement. [Specific guidance for students and faculty advisors is found here ]. Students who opt for the Physics Major receive a deeper and richer exposition of theoretical, experimental, and computational science. Those pursuing the Physics Minor receive a more narrowly focused presentation of the subject. Students with a cognate interest in Physics are invited to elect courses for which they have satisfied the prerequisites.

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
PHYS 221 University Physics I: Mechanics with Lab
PHYS 222 University Physics II: Materials with Lab
PHYS 223 University Physics III: Electricity and Magnetism with Lab
PHYS 321 Modern Physics
PHYS 490 Advanced Laboratory
MATH 151 Calculus I
MATH 250 Calculus II
MATH 251 Vector Calculus
MATH 252 Ordinary Differential Equations
MATH 270 Scientific Programming
CHEM 125 General Chemistry I with Lab
LATN 101 Elementary Latin
LATN 102 Intermediate Latin
4 Courses (16 Credits) of Physics Electives

Elective Options
PHYS 330 Intermediate Mechanics
PHYS 341 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
PHYS 350 Intermediate Electromagnetism
PHYS 355 Electric Circuits with Lab
PHYS 361 Quantum Mechanics I
PHYS 362 Quantum Mechanics II
PHYS 386 Simulations in Physics
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.

Chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department, Assistant 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

Jeanette Hariharan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Physics 
Education: B.S., Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University; M.S., Electronic Engineering, University of Tennessee; Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, University of Akron
Office: Henkels 3047A
Phone: (239)348-4705

Andrew Lerwill, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Physics
Education: B.S., Physics, University of Hertfordshire; M.S., Applied and Modern Optics, University of Readings; Ph.D., Physics, Nottingham Trent University
Office: Henkel’s 3052
Phone: (239) 280-1605