Courses & Curriculum

Qualifications for the major

Physics majors must have a minimum grade of C for courses in General Physics (PHY 223, 224, 225) and Mathematics through Differential Equations (MAT 222).


Physics majors use high resolution spectroscopy equipment, lasers, fiber optics, high vacuum apparatus, low temperature apparatus, a multi-channel nuclear spectrometer and an X-ray spectrometer. They have access to departmental computers and the college’s main computer system. In addition, a large supply of other equipment is available for students to use as early as their first semester.

Co-curricular Opportunities

The Society of Physics Students offers opportunities for social activities, technical tours, lectures and other activities.

Physics Curriculum:

1. Core Curriculum Requirements:
Go to for the Core Curriculum requirements.  All students complete these requirements as part of their overall Canisius education.

2. Major course requirements

PHY 223 (or PHY 223a/MAT 115-PHY 223b/
MAT 118) - 224 General Physics for Physical Science Majors
8 credits
PHY 225 General Physics III 4 credits
PHY 226 Basic Electronics 4 credits
PHY 330 Electricity and Magnetism I* 3 credits
PHY 331 Electricity and Magnetism II* 3 credits
PHY 332 Statistical and Thermal Physics 3 credits
PHY 350-351 Advanced Laboratory 2 credits
PHY 443 Classical Mechanics* 3 credits
PHY 447 Quantum Mechanics* 3 credits
PHY 449 Nuclear Physics Lab* 1 credit
PHY 498 Senior Project 1 credit
CHM 111-112 General Chemistry 8 credits
CSC 107 Computer Programming for Science* 4 credits
MAT 111-112 8 credits
MAT 211 Calculus III 4 credits
MAT 222 Differential Equations 4 credits
MAT 335-336 Mathematical Analysis for Physicists* 8 credits

*These courses offered in alternative years only

3.  Free electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.  Computer Science courses are highly recommended, as are PHY 301, PHY 360

Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Courses

Students should consult with their major advisor every semester to discuss course offerings and the courses needed to meet graduation requirements. Many courses, including CSC107, and all upper level (300-400) Physics courses are offered only in alternating years.

Fall              Spring        
Freshman Year        
CHM 111 4 credits CHM 112 4 credits
MAT 111 4 credits MAT 112 4 credits
CSC 107 4 or 3 credits PHY 223 4 credits
Sophomore Year      
MAT 211 4 credits MAT 222 4 credits
PHY 224 4 credits PHY 225 4 credits
CSC 107 3 credits PHY 226 4 credits
Junior or Senior Year      
PHY 330 3 credits PHY 331 3 credits
PHY 350 1 credit PHY 351 1 credit
MAT 335 4 credits
Senior or Junior Year      
PHY 332 3 credits PHY 447 3 credits
PHY 443 3 credits PHY 499 1 credits
PHY 449 1 credits Elective 3 credits
MAT 336 4 credits

Other Programs

Physics Minor: 
Four Required Courses:

PHY 223 (or PHY 223a,b) and PHY 224, General Physics I, II 8 credits
PHY 225 General Physics III  4 credits
MAT 211 Calculus III 4 credits
Three courses selected from the following two groups.
At least one of these three must be selected from Group I.

Physics Minor Electives

Three courses selected from the following two groups.  
At least one of these three must be selected from Group I

Group I-

PHY 330 Electromagnetism I 3 credits
PHY 331 Electromagnetism II 3 credits
PHY 332 Statistical and Thermal Physics 3 credits
PHY 443 Classical Mechanics 3 credits
PHY 447 Quantum Mechanics 3 credits

Note: (i) PHY 331 requires PHY 330 as a prerequisite.
(ii) MAT 336  is strongly recommended for PHY 447.

Group II-

PHY 226 Basic Electronics  4 credits
PHY 360 Scientific Modeling  4 credits
Two of PHY 350, 351, 449 Advanced Lab  2 credits
MAT 222 Differential Equations  4 credits
MAT 335 Mathematical Analysis for Physicists I  4 credits
MAT 336 Mathematical Analysis for Physicists II  4 credits
CHM 301 Classical Physical Chemistry  5 credits

Note: If CHM 301 is used for Group II, PHY 332 cannot be used for Group I.

Dual majors can be formed with almost any other course of studies.



PHY 129 Introduction to Astronomy   3 credits
Understanding modern astronomy by using ideas from basic physics. Mathematics minimized. Naming and viewing stars and constellations is included. (Field 6)  Fall

PHY 131 Earthquakes: Seismology and Society         3 credits
The science behind earthquakes; their causes, locations, frequency and measurement; and their affects on geography, human structures and society.(Field 6)  Spring

PHY 133 Dinosaurs          3 credits
An introduction to dinosaurs and their world through an examination of their anatomy, evolution, phylogenty, behavior, metabolism and the cause of their extinction.  Exploration of geological concepts such as uniformitarianism, stratigraphy, sedimentation, fossilization and taphonomy will help to explain how this knowledge was extracted from the rocks.(Field 6) Fall

PHY 201-202 General Physics   8 credits
For biological-science students. Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics and atomic physics. Some calculus. Lecture, recitation and laboratory. Prerequisites: MAT 109 or equivalent. A grade of C- or higher in PHY 201 is required to continue in PHY 202. PHY 210 Fall; PHY 202 Spring

PHY 223-224 General Physics for Physical Science Majors    8 credits
Calculus-based physics course and related laboratory. PHY 223: Newtonian mechanics with applications. PHY 224: electricity and magnetism. Prerequisites: MAT 111. A grade of C- or higher in PHY 223 is necessary to continue in PHY 224. PHY 223 Fall;

PHY 224 Spring PHY 225 General Physics III            4 credits
Calculus-based physics course and related laboratory. Fluids, mechanical waves and sound, heat and thermodynamics, geometric and physical optics, relativity and introductory quantum physics. Prerequisite: A grade of C- or higher in PHY 224 is required to continue in PHY 225. 

Spring PHY 226 Basic Electronics            4 credits
Circuit analysis, power supplies, semiconductor physics, operational amplifiers, digital electronics. Integrated circuit techniques. Includes laboratory work each week. Prerequisite:  A grade of C- or higher in PHY 224 is required.  Spring

PHY 301 Optics            3 credits
Geometric optics, interference, diffraction, fiber optics, laser system design, holographic metrology and non-linear optical phenomena. Prerequisites: MAT 222 and PHY 224. Offered irregularly, 2 year cycle

PHY 330 Electromagnetism I            3 credits
Static and time-varying classical electric and magnetic fields in free-space and matter. Prerequisite: PHY 224. Prior completion of or concurrent registration for MAT 335 is strongly encouraged. Fall 2009 only, 2 year cycle

PHY 331 Electromagnetism II            3 credits
Primary topic: electromagnetic waves in free-space and matter, beginning with the Maxwell equations. Additional topics: radiation and special relativity.  Prerequisite: PHY 330.  Spring 2010 only, 2 year cycle

PHY 332 Statistical and Thermal Physics           3 credits
Develops statistical concepts and methods used to relate macroscopic to microscopic descriptions of many particle systems.  Prerequisite: PHY 225. Fall 2010 only,  2 year cycle

PHY 350-351 Advanced Laboratory            2 credits
Advanced experiments such as experimental instrumentation, holography, spatial filtering, atomic spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, low-temperature measurements, magnetic resonance.  Prerequisite: PHY 225.  Fall and Spring

PHY 360 Scientific Modeling    3 credits
An introduction to the use of computer models to develop understanding in a scientific context. This course is intended for students in any scientific or mathematical discipline, and focuses on the principles involved in using and interpreting computer models. The course is divided into three main sections: dynamical modeling, structural modeling and computer-based statistical methods. Problems will be drawn from biology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology and physics. Prerequisites: MAT 111 and a one-year introductory science sequence (in computer science, chemistry, biology or physics).  Offered irregularly, 2 year cycle

PHY 443 Classical Mechanics   3 credits
One, two, and three dimensional motion of a particle, non-inertial systems, classical scattering, rigid-body motion. Lagrange and Hamilton equations, calculus of variations, oscillations.   Prerequisites: PHY 224, MAT 222.  Fall 2010 only, 2 year cycle

PHY 447 Quantum Mechanics            3 credits
Experimental basis of quantum mechanics, state functions, operators. Schrodinger’s equation and applications, parity, perturbation theory, Dirac notation. Prerequisite: MAT 336 is strongly recommended. Spring 2010 only, 2 year cycle

PHY 449 Nuclear Physics Lab           1 credit
One-semester lab meeting once per week. Experiments study nuclear instrumentation, characteristics of radiation and nuclear spectra. Prerequisite: PHY 225 2 year cycle

PHY 498 Senior Project            1-3 credits
A one-semester research project done under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: Senior standing in physics and permission of department chair.  Spring

PHY 499 Independent Study           3 credits
Prerequisite: Permission of department chair.  Spring and Fall