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Physics

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 investigate the laws of nature and how those laws govern the world in which we live.

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 majors 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, financial experts, and architects. The career options for Vassar physics majors are abundant.

Exposure to scientific reasoning and methods are important for all Vassar students, not just physics majors. 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 the interactions of subatomic particles, the science of sound, contemporary technologies, the philosophy of physics, and the study of motion in the real world using digital video analysis. The department also shares faculty with the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and has a strong interest 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. Those looking for a liberal arts education with an engineering emphasis can arrange to spend three years at Vassar and two years at Dartmouth College, which results in a bachelor's degree from each institution. More information on this dual-degree program can be found on our site here, or through Dartmouth's engineering program site.

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