Why choose Goucher College?
Students pick Goucher College because they want an education, not just a degree. So we have tailored our experience to provide you more than just a solid foundation in physics, but the critical thinking, creative problem solving, and communication skills you need to succeed in all of your post-graduation pursuits. Since 2000, 100% of our physics majors have been accepted to the graduate program (including medical!) of their choice. Over 90% of our majors who looked for work directly after graduation landed a competitive job in research or industry within 6 months. All our faculty are recognized for their high-quality teaching, active and innovative research, and dedicated mentoring. With small class sizes (even our introductory courses are capped at 30) you are assured personalized attention every step of your education. In addition, our office doors are always open for you to stop by for help, advice, or just to chat. Not only do all our students have the chance to participate in research projects (some as early as their first summer here), but most have presented at conferences and published their results in respected journals. With weekly coffee hours and an active Physics and Astronomy Club, there is no shortage of informal interaction as well.
Science is best learned, and mastered, through a combination of class work and hands-on research. From day one, your classroom will be an active-learning environment, with lively discussion and teacher-student interaction. Introductory courses have integrated labs so you can explore the curriculum in practice as well as on paper. Intermediate, advanced and electronics labs complement upper-level courses the same way.
Explore and innovate
Of course, the best way to learn is through independent scientific research in collaboration with a faculty mentor, which you can conduct during the school year (for credit) and as part of our paid summer-research program. Current topics of research by Goucher faculty include experimental and theoretical condensed-matter physics, materials science, stellar and interstellar astronomy, atomic and molecular physics and optics. Do you have your own research ideas? Our faculty will happily mentor any project. Of course, many other areas of research are available in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Space Telescope Science Institute, both of which are just down the street.
A community of scholarship
As physics major or minor, you more than just a student, you are welcomed as an active member of the department. We meet weekly in our own in-house espresso “bar” to chat informally about science, goings-on in the news or around town. The Physics and Astronomy club has many activities, including public observing at our rooftop observatory, lunch or dinner with invited speakers, trips to nearby museums and labs, barbeques and ice-cream parties. We’ve even started a tradition of the “Physics Challenge” triathalon.
Our role as faculty extends outside our classrooms or laboratories. As academic advisors, we will work closely with you to plan an enriching, liberal-arts education that meets all your interests and needs. As mentors, we will guide you to become the best students, and the best scientists, that you can be, while also helping you realize your plans for life-after-graduation.
What you will study
The Physics and Astronomy Department offers a core curriculum that unifies all majors, after which you can choose a variety of specializations including a traditional track (to prepare you for graduate school), astronomy, and pre-engineering, or you can design your own physics major in such topics as music, dance, biophysics, materials-science, or philosophy, just to name a few. For a full listing of our classes and physics tracks, click here.
All tracks begin with our year-long introductory physics sequence, in which you will learn mechanics, waves, and electricity and magnetism, all in an integrated classroom-laboratory environment. Your sophomore year, you will start with modern physics and intermediate labs, and then hone your math skills with mathematical methods for physics. During your junior and senior years, you must take statistical physics (and thermodynamics), and a hybrid lecture/lab in electronics and instrumentation. Depending on your interests and concentration, you will then select from among:
- Intermediate Electromagnetic Theory
- Clasical Mechanics
- Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
- Special Topics in Contemporary Physics, including
- Particles and Accelerators
- Condensed Matter
- Environmental Physics
- Relativity and Cosmology
to round out your physics foundation, while adding classes from the Biology, Chemistry, and Math and Computer Science departments as needed.
Physics is an international science, so Goucher’s study-abroad requirement is a natural part of your education. International studies opportunities in physics and astronomy are available through semester or year-long programs at the University of Sussex (UK), or through a three-week intensive program studying astronomy in Granada, Spain. We also encourage you to seek out off-campus internships and summer research (REU) programs, as they provide valuable experience in work settings that often lead to informed career choices.
Want to be an engineer or astronomer?
You may have noticed that we do not offer specific majors in engineering or astronomy. Why? For one very good reason: the best way to branch out in the physical sciences is to start with a rock-solid foundation in physics. Between our various Applied Studies concentrations, throughout our curriculum and research opportunities, and with our partnership with nearby Johns Hopkins University, we offer a variety of ways to satisfy your specific interests. A Physics degree from Goucher College will open any doors you want.
Want to go to medical school?
Contrary to what you might think, a Physics Major is an excellent path to medical school. Admissions data from previous years shows that a higher percentage of students who majored in the physical sciences are admitted to Medical School than students who studied Biology or a Pre-Med track. Need more proof? One of our physics majors has already done it, and went on to medical school at Georgetown.
Life after Goucher
What can you do with a physics major after you graduate? Just consider what our recent grads have gone on to do:
- Graduate school in physics, astronomy, engineering, and mathematics.
- College faculty
- Medical School
- Teaching, including Teach for America
- IT, government and high-tech jobs
That’s not all. Recent studies by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) have reported physics success stories across the country in a variety of fields such as acoustics, computers, consumer goods, energy efficiency, environmental science, global positioning systems, the Internet, lasers, liquid crystals, medical imaging, nanotechnology, quantum computing, information systems, telecommunications, and transportation.
Discover for yourself
To the right, you will find links to faculty members' biographies, our curriculum, student research, news, etc. These web pages are only a taste of what Goucher College and the Department of Physics and Astronomy are like. Want to find out more? We would be happy to answer any of your questions, put you in touch with current students, show you around campus, arrange a classroom visit, etc. Feel free to e-mail, call us or drop by any time. We are located on the First Floor of the Julia Rogers Building
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1021 Dulaney Valley Road
Balltimore, MD 21204