Academic Catalog and Handbooks

2023-2024 Edition


Chair: James Crumley

Faculty: James Crumley, Greg Taft, Todd Johnson, Dean Langley, Adam Whitten, Sarah Yost

The program of study at Saint Benedict's and Saint John's is planned to keep students abreast of the latest developments in the study of physics. The curriculum covers the basics of classical and modern physics, examining human understanding of nature from elementary particles to the cosmos.

Physics majors choose from a sequence of courses that can give them excellent preparation for graduate school, industrial research, secondary teaching or professional studies such as engineering, law and medicine.

For majors in the other sciences, PHYS 105 Physics for the Life Sciences I, PHYS 106 Physics for the Life Sciences II and PHYS 191 Foundations of Physics I, PHYS 200 Foundations of Physics II and PHYS 211 Foundations of Physics III offer an introduction to the principles of physics at different mathematical levels: PHYS 105 Physics for the Life Sciences I and PHYS 106 Physics for the Life Sciences II make use of high school level algebra, geometry and trigonometry; PHYS 191 Foundations of Physics I, PHYS 200 Foundations of Physics II and PHYS 211 Foundations of Physics III assume concurrent registration in calculus and linear algebra.

Physics is a valuable study for non-science majors, too. The department offers courses (PHYS 101 Perspectives in Physics - PHYS 102 Light and Color,PHYS 110 The Physics of ForensicsPHYS 150 The Physics of Music, and PHYS 187 Introduction to Meteorology) which have been developed specifically to suit the needs of non-science majors. No previous introduction to physics is necessary, and mathematics is used sparingly.

The department's experimental facilities include gamma-ray analyzers, a 3-D printer, diffusion pump vacuum systems, a variety of lasers, fiber-optics, holography and interferometry equipment, an all-sky camera, and many new electronic instruments. Computing facilities include Microsoft Windows and Linux computers in laboratories and classrooms, including a computing lab containing dual screen Linux PCs.

The department also maintains shop facilities for metal and woodworking, and an electronics shop. Students are encouraged to work independently. Many select their own experimental projects, build special apparatus and perform original measurements.


The Physics Department takes several steps to ensure that we are doing a good job of preparing our students; seniors take the Major Field Test in physics, for example, and those planning on graduate school take the graduate record exam in physics. Overall, however, we believe that the performance of our students after they leave us is the most telling measure of the effectiveness of our program. Our students go on to engineering schools, graduate schools in physics and engineering, government and industrial laboratories, and the like. We do our best to keep in touch with our former students, find out how well they are doing and how good a job we have done of preparing them. We use this information, among other sources, in periodic reviews of our program.

Acceptance to Major Requirements

Course Requirements:  PHYS 191, 200, 211, 332, MATH 120 and 239
Minimum Grade and/or GPA for required courses:  2.00 GPA
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  2.00