Physics

The Major

Students who wish to major in physics are required to take the first two semesters of College level calculus (Mathematics 111 and 121) and nine additional courses. The physics courses include: Introductory Mechanics (Physics 116 or 123) and Introductory Electromagnetism (Physics 117 or 124), each of which has a laboratory component; four intermediate courses (Modern Physics (225), Intermediate Laboratory (226), Methods of Theoretical Physics (227), and Statistical Mechanics (230)); and three upper level courses (Dynamics (343), Electrodynamics (347), and Quantum Mechanics (348)). None of the intermediate and upper level courses, except of course the Intermediate Lab, has a regularly scheduled laboratory component. The department also offers advanced electives in areas such as Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Computation, General Relativity, and Advanced Laboratory Techniques. The electives are not offered every year, but rather as staffing and student interest permit. Beyond the required courses, students are encouraged to undertake an honors research project in their senior year on some topic that is mutually agreeable to the student and a faculty member. We also encourage physics majors to participate in research projects during the summers, January Interterm, and occasionally during the academic year. These opportunities allow students to experience the excitement of scientific research early in their careers. The department organizes weekly colloquia by distinguished visitors who are urged make the central ideas of their talks accessible to undergraduates who are taking the sophomore level courses. Majors (prospective and declared) are invited to attend these talks so that they may learn the content and style of research in physics as it is currently practiced.

Careers for Physics Majors

Many of our majors go on to some of the best graduate programs in physics and related areas, sometimes after a year of teaching or travel. Others choose to pursue further education in engineering, law, medicine or business, while yet others opt for employment after their graduation. (Here are more details on what some recent majors have done after graduation.)

 

Physics and Astronomy Department

AC# 2244
Amherst College
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
413-542-2251
Larry Hunter, Chair

Particle Paths