Physics

Physicists seek to describe and explain the physical world around us. Physicists try to answer several fundamental questions. What is the world made of? How do these parts interact? How do relatively simple laws of nature give rise to complicated behaviors? Physicists hunt for new phenomena, and then puzzle out the explanation behind these effects. Physicists are always asking the question "how does this work?" and then the natural question that follows, "why does it work that way?"

The study of physics at Vassar prepares students for a wide range of opportunities and experiences. Our students develop skills in deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and precision of thought, while building a familiarity with the scientific method and a useful understanding of technology. While a Vassar education in physics can prepare our students for advanced study in physics or related fields (over one third of our students choose to go on to graduate school), it can also prepare them to play a direct and important role in society as scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, writers, and architects. Vassar physics majors can go on to do just about anything!

Exposure to scientific reasoning and methods are important for all Vassar students, not just physics majors, so the department also offers a number of accessible and interesting courses for students majoring in disciplines outside of the sciences. The topics of these courses include Einstein's theory of relativity, the interactions of subatomic particles, and the study of motion in the real world using digital video analysis. Several members of the department also participate in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and have strong interests in the history of science and the influence of technology on contemporary culture and politics.

A number of Vassar physics students are also interested in engineering or teaching. Those looking for a liberal arts education with an engineering emphasis can arrange to spend 3 years at Vassar and 2 years at Dartmouth College, which results in a bachelor's degree from each institution. More information on this dual-degree program can be found through Dartmouth's engineering program.

Prospective students interested in finding out more about the department or in arranging a visit can contact the department at physics@vassar.edu.