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Loyola University Maryland    
  Sep 20, 2017
2017-2018 Undergraduate Academic Catalogue


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Office: Donnelly Science, Room 247
Telephone: 410‑617‑2642

Chair: Andrea Erdas, Associate Professor

Professors: Gregory N. Derry; Joseph Ganem; Frank R. Haig, S.J. (emeritus); Mary L. Lowe
Associate Professors: Andrea Erdas; Randall S. Jones; Helene F. Perry (emerita)
Assistant Professors: Inge Heyer (visiting)

The Physics Department focuses on undergraduate physics education. Courses are offered at all levels for physics majors, science majors in other disciplines, and non-science majors. The mission of the department is twofold: to open students' minds to the power, beauty, and utility of the physical sciences; and to help students hone their quantitative skills and problem-solving abilities.

Learning Aims

The department has developed six learning aims for the physics major (see the department's website for a detailed discussion of these aims):

  • Students will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of physics, including a firm conceptual grasp of the central principles of physics, an ability to work with the concepts mathematically, and a functional understanding of how these ideas play out in the real world.
  • Student will develop a flexible and creative problem-solving ability.
  • Students will develop an integrated understanding of the unity of physics.
  • Students will develop their ability to communicate ideas of science.
  • Students will develop a functional understanding of symbolic and numerical computation.
  • Students will develop an expertise in experimental methodologies.

These attributes are important for many areas of endeavor and can lead to graduate study, professional programs, and a wide variety of careers. In addition to graduate programs in physics, Loyola students have entered into many professions: health, including medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy; engineering, including electrical and mechanical; law; computer science; mathematics; astronomy; meteorology; biophysics; business; the military; education; and other fields.

Major in Physics

A Major in Physics leads to a fundamental understanding of nature and technology, an ability to think creatively, and a highly developed set of problem solving skills. Loyola's program in physics offers a high degree of flexibility and choice, making it ideal for a variety of careers, as well as graduate study in physics. The foundation of the program is a sequence of eight physics courses, four mathematics courses, one computer science course, and six physics laboratories. All of these courses are taken in common by all physics majors. Beyond these foundation courses, students can elect one of three tracks: analytic, applied science, or general.

The analytic track consists of three advanced physics courses, a senior laboratory course, and a semester of physics research. If the student has a significant research experience during a summer, another advanced physics course may be substituted for the research requirement. This track is ideally suited as preparation for graduate study in physics or a related field. It provides the broadest physics background in preparation for any career choice.

The applied science and general tracks require that the student take a coherent program of six courses from other disciplines. This curriculum can be tailored to the interests and career goals of the student. The details must be planned with the physics advisor and approved by the department. The applied science track is for majors interested in technical subjects such as computing, engineering, or the health professions, while the general track allows for a focus in nontechnical areas such as finance, education, or science writing. It is possible to complete either the applied science or general track in three years with careful planning.

Physics majors may participate in a 3-2 combined degree program leading to two bachelor's degrees: a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Physics from Loyola University Maryland and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Engineering from Columbia University. Students take courses from Loyola for the first three years and then from Columbia for two years. This track enables students to obtain a strong liberal arts education and training in an engineering discipline from a major engineering institution. A minimum of a 3.300 cumulative GPA, as calculated by Columbia, is required.  In addition, the minimum grade in each pre-engineering science and mathematics prerequisite courses must be a B or the equivalent the first time the course was taken.  All pre-engineering courses must be taken at Loyola University Maryland, otherwise Columbia reserves the right to determine whether or not prerequisites and course-specific requirements have been met. For more information on the curriculum, consult the department chair and the department's website.

In the event a full-time student is interested in a physics or astronomy course that is not offered at Loyola, the student may take that course at one of the participating institutions in the Baltimore Student Exchange Program at no additional tuition charge (fees are not included) during the fall and spring semesters. For more information, see the Baltimore Student Exchange Program  under Curriculum and Policies.

Minor in Biomedical Physics

According to the Nobel prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, "...for at least several hundred years, physicists—and especially their principles, methods and machines—have been illuminating our views of the human body and of every other living thing." Starting with the X-ray in the 1900s, new diagnostic and therapeutic instrumentation have been developed that have transformed the health professions. These instrumentation include MRI, CT, PET, gamma camera, ultrasound imaging, laparoscopes, among others. Multidisciplinary teams of people are required to work on the fundamental science, design and test the instruments, and market them.

The aim of the minor in biomedical physics is to enhance a quantitative understanding of the science and technology involved in medical and biological applications. The minor in biomedical physics may be of interest to those on the pre-health track, those wishing to enhance their quantitative skills, and those who want to be introduced to fields that combine physics with medical applications such as medical physics and biomedical engineering.


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