Division I Chair: M. Saderholm


Department Chair: T. Hodge


Faculty: T. Hodge, T. Messina, and M. Veillette




Courses: PHY Courses


Major/Minor Requirements: Physics B.A.Physics Minor

The Physics Department offers a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum that is designed to (a) prepare students to enter graduate schools or private industry en route to careers as professional physicists; (b) provide a liberal arts degree to students who are interested in careers for which a background in physics is advantageous, such as engineering, medicine, computer science, and secondary science teaching; and (c) provide service courses for majors in other sciences, including chemistry, pre-medicine, technology, and agriculture. Our courses introduce students to the nature of scientific inquiry, grounded in problem solving that calls on both practical and quantitative reasoning skills. We are committed to the idea that students should have the opportunity to participate directly in faculty-led scientific research as part of their undergraduate curriculum.

It is our mission to:

  1. Promote an understanding of and appreciation for the concepts, principles and methods of physics.
  2. Create a supportive academic environment in which students can develop both a fundamental knowledge of physics and the quantitative skills necessary to apply that knowledge.
  3. Provide an opportunity for students to explore the natural world through experimentation and to develop skills in the observation, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data.
  4. Encourage students to participate in significant research and internship experiences both on- and off-campus.
  5. Help students understand the connections between physics and other disciplines and provide opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary study.
  6. Help students develop skills in communicating the concepts and principles of physics to a wider audience. 

A strong background in Physics is essential in any Engineering field, so the Department also offers a dual-degree 3-2 Engineering Program through which students can become certified engineers. The interdisciplinary Applied Science and Mathematics major (see separate program in this section of the Catalog & Student Handbook) is recommended for students planning to pursue the dual-degree program. In this program, a student attends Berea College for three to four years, and then completes the Engineering degree at the University of Kentucky (Lexington).

In addition to supporting students' achievement of the Aims of General Education, the Physics Department seeks to assist students in meeting the following learning goals and associated learning outcomes:

Physics Student Learning Goals & Outcomes

Learning Goal 1: Fundamental Knowledge of Physics

Learning Outcome 1.1: Content Knowledge

Demonstrate working knowledge of the fundamental principles, theories, and problems in classical mechanics, special relativity, thermal physics, electromagnetism, and quantum physics.

Learning Outcome 1.2: Scientific Literature

Read, analyze, and summarize scientific literature in physics, astronomy, and related disciplines.

Learning Goal 2: Critical Thinking and Quantitative Problem Solving Skills

Learning Outcome 2.1: Mathematical Knowledge

Apply appropriate analytical and computational techniques to model physical systems and formulate solutions to problems, including the mathematics of differential and integral calculus, vector calculus, probability and statistics, linear algebra, and differential equations.

Learning Outcome 2.2: Develop Physical and Mathematical Intuition

Employ physical intuition to answer conceptual questions, make order-of-magnitude approximations, and recognize whether the result of a calculation makes physical sense.

Learning Goal 3: Scientific Method and Experimentation

Learning Outcome 3.1: Experimentation

Demonstrate proficiency in the observation, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data, including the role that uncertainty plays in interpreting experimental results.

Learning Outcome 3.3: Conduct Independent Research

Design, construct, and carry out an experimental, computational, or theoretical research project and report on the results through both written and oral communication.

Learning Goal 5: Communication and Connection

Learning Outcome 5.1: Participate in Research Experiences

Participate in a significant research or internship experience.

Learning Outcome 5.2: Communication

Demonstrate the ability to communicate the concepts and principles of physics to a wider audience with precision and clarity.

Physics Course Sequencing Table