Information for First Year Physics Students

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Department Chair:  Dr. Catherine Jahncke
Phone:  (315) 229-5496
Campus Address: Bewkes Hall 203

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 score a 4 or 5 on a physics AP test, you may be qualified to receive credit for our courses. You will need to have a conversation with the department chair about your lab experience to receive this credit. You can have that conversation via email or you can contact the chair when you arrive on campus. Your high school course syllabus and sample lab reports might be helpful with this conversation. The table below contains information about specific course equivalents for the AP physics exams.

Exam                                   SLU Physics Course

AP Physics 1                           Phys 103: College Physics w/Lab (Fall)

AP Physics 2                           Phys 104: College Physics w/Lab (Spring)

AP Physics C: Mechanics                Phys 151: University Physics w/Lab (Fall)

AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism  Phys 152: University Physics w/Lab (Spring)  

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.

Visit the Physics Department to get a Major's Planning Guide that will allow you to keep track of the courses you'll need over the next four years.