Department of Physics

The Department of Physics at SUNY Potsdam provides its majors with this background, preparing students for careers in competitive and innovative fields.


Before the 20th century, the study of physics was divided into five areas: mechanics, light, heat, sound and electricity/magnetism. The areas known as “modern” physics have since been added, with such fields as atomic physics, nuclear physics, solid state physics, quantum physics and relativity.

Today’s physicists must have a thorough knowledge of classical physics in order to research such fields as acoustics, mechanics, optics, hydrodynamics, electromagnetism and thermal physics. It’s also essential for physicists to have a working knowledge of modern physics in order to enter such fields as astrophysics, geophysics, high-energy physics, medical physics and the electronic and communications areas of applied physics.