Information for First Year Students

Department Chair:  Prof. Karen E. Johnson
Phone:  (315) 229-5495
Campus Address: Bewkes Hall 225
E-mail:  kjohnson@stlawu.edu

Do you like to build things and figure out how devices work? Are you fascinated by recent discoveries in astronomy? Do you like math? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then you should consider physics for a major or minor. Many of our graduates go on to become engineers, teachers, or scientists. Others go into the world of business and pursue careers in marketing or finance. The Physics department offers a major and a minor, has combined programs with Geology and Biology, and is typically the entry point for the 3+2 Engineering Program.

If you are interested in majoring in physics, pursuing one of the physics-related interdisciplinary majors (Biology-Physics or Geology-Physics) or completing the 3+2 Engineering Program, you should enroll in Phys 151: University Physics with Lab (NS-L). Additionally, Phys 151 is a calculus-based class, so you will need to enroll in a calculus course: Math 135 (Calculus I) or a higher level (see the Department of Math, Computer Science & Statistics list of courses for more information). If you enjoyed physics and math in high school, and would like to continue physics for fun, we still recommend Phys 151. We also offer an algebra-based course, Phys 103: College Physics with Lab (NS-L). This course is designed primarily for pre-health career students. While there is no calculus required for this course, pre-health career students should not take Phys 103 in their first year because they should complete the introductory biology and chemistry courses during that year. 

If you scored a 4 or 5 on the Physics B Advanced Placement exam, you may be qualified to receive credit for Phys 103 and 104. If you scored a 4 or 5 on the Physics C Mechanics Advanced Placement exam, you may be qualified to receive credit for Phys 151. If this applies to you and you intend to take physics, you should still enroll in Phys 151 and discuss other options with the physics department chair when you arrive on campus (or by e-mail over the summer).

The following course this fall is appropriate for first-year students:

  • Phys 151: University Physics with Lab (NS-L)

If you find that Phys 151 is full, please contact the physics department chair who will make every effort to make seats available. This is particularly important if you are interested in majoring in Physics or completing the 3+2 Engineering Program.

The Physics Major Planning Guide below will allow you to keep track of the courses you'll need over the next four years.