The Physics and Astronomy Department offers a flexible major in physics with a variety of tracks, designed to fit student's interests while preparing students for any challenges and career paths they take on after graduating.  In addition, the Physics and Astronomy Department offers minors in physics and astronomy and a broad array dual-degree programs in engineering (3+2 programs) through Columbia University or Johns Hopkins University. Goucher students may also elect to take specialized courses in collaboration with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The goal of the Physics and Astronomy Department is to prepare students to acquire a high level of analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities through in-depth study of challenging physical concepts, both theoretical and experimental.The core curriculum in both tracks prepares students for graduate school and/or careers in physics, such as science education, research and development, design and manufacturing, government, and information technology. Recent studies by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) have reported physics success stories 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.

Students have the opportunity to conduct scientific research with Goucher College physics and astronomy faculty in experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, materials science, atomic/molecular physics/optics and astronomy. Other areas of research are available at the JHU Department of Physics and Astronomy. Students present the results of student/faculty research collaborations at poster sessions within the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Goucher College. In the past, such work has also been presented at professional conferences and has been published in scientific journals with students as lead or co-authors.

Core Courses: The following courses constitute the core of a physics (or related) degree, and are required for all students majoring in physics:

Physics Tracks:

In addition to the core courses, students elect to follow a particular track (listed below) that best fits their interests and future goals. In consultation with their academic advisor, students should choose additional courses from the departmental offerings, and other courses as required below, to best prepare for their post-graduate career. Students should check all courses for the accompanying prerequisites. 

Traditional Track (Preparation for a graduate program in Physics):

In addition to the core courses, the following are required:

Students may elect to take:

  • CS 116 - Introduction to Computer Science (4 Cr.)
  • PHY 171.304 - Quantum Mechanics II (offered at Johns Hopkins University)
  • PHY 171.310 - Biological Physics (offered at Johns Hopkins University)
  • PHY 171.408 - Nuclear and Particle Physics (offered at Johns Hopkins University)
  • PHY 171.302 - Advanced Electromagnetic Theory (offered at Johns Hopkins University)

Astronomy Track (Preparation for a career or graduate program in Astronomy):

In addition to the core courses, the following are required.

Students may also elect to take:

  • PHY 171.313 - Introduction to Stellar Physics (offered at Johns Hopkins University)
  • PHY 171.314 - Introduction to Galaxies and AGN (offered at Johns Hopkins University)
  • AST 301 - Astrophysical Techniques (offered at Towson University)

Pre-Engineering Track (Preparation for a career or graduate program in Engineering):

In addition to the core courses, the following are required:

In consultation with an academic advisor, students may also elect to take:

Individualized Track (Individualized physics major):

Students may develop an individualized major in consultation with their major advisor by proposing a list of at least 9 credits (including at least one from the department at the 300 level) for approval by the Chair of the department. Topics include (but are not limited to) pre-medical and biophysics, material science, environmental physics, econophysics, computational physics, physics of music or art, etc.

Writing Proficiency in the Major

Laboratory reports and papers in PHY 220 and PHY 230 are used to evaluate writing proficiency in the major. PHY 220 and 280 taken at any time satisfy the computer proficiency requirement. Students should check all courses for the accompanying prerequisites.