Physics

Major / Minor

Students work in the physics lab with professor Mike McCracken in Swanson Science Center September 26, 2018.

The Physics major at W&J introduces students to the principles and techniques that scientists use to describe our physical universe. By emphasizing hands-on laboratory work in addition to core content, our curriculum encourages students to develop transferrable skills such as data acquisition and analysis, computation, electronics, fabrication, and oral and written scientific communication. Physics students are prepared to contribute meaningfully to research in science and industry; to pursue graduate study in physics, engineering, and other technical fields; and to apply quantitative and problem-solving techniques in fields such as medicine, finance, and technology.

Research and Internships
  • The intense, hands-on laboratory curriculum is designed to prepare students to participate in meaningful research early in their studies.
  • As part of the curriculum, students may elect to complete a two-semester independent research project in which they work with a faculty member to investigate a topic of relevant to their scientific or career interests.
  • Transferable skills propel students to take advantage of international research internships in cutting-edge scientific and engineering fields.
  • The Department supports active Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma honors society chapters, with annual trips to national laboratories and outreach events.
Careers After W&J
  • Research, including at national laboratories and in industry
  • Engineering and product R&D
  • Finance, including financial planning and financial analysis
  • Graduate programs and careers in engineering, including electrical, mechanical, software
  • PhD programs in physics, biological physics, biomedical engineering
  • Careers in medicine, including veterinary medicine (DVM) and combined MD/PhD programs
Program Downloads

Beyond the Classroom

Students have a wide array of opportunities for research, internships, conferences, and networking beyond the classroom that give them an advantage to prepare for life after W&J.

Physics Faculty

Physics News

Savanna Starko ’16 seeks answers to big questions at Vanderbilt University

October 20, 2020

Savanna Starko originally intended to become a high school math teacher. But when a battle with thyroid cancer disrupted her first year as an undergraduate at Washington and Jefferson College, a professor helped her see how physics might be a better fit.

Alondra Martinez Osorno, W&J senior, receives prestigious NIH scholarship

October 8, 2020

Alondra Martinez Osorno, senior at Washington & Jefferson College, receives prestigious NIH scholarship.

Physics Events

More content coming soon! See our full event calendar for more events.