Majors, minors & more
Physics and Astronomy
College of Arts and Sciences
- Offered as:
- Graduate program
Physics is the study of the natural world, from its most fundamental to its most extreme. It is a foundational science upon whose principles all other sciences and technologies are based. From subatomic particles to the universe itself, physicists study matter, energy, and space and time. They probe the laws and forces of nature and search for symmetries, patterns, and properties that define the workings of the universe.
Bachelor of Science in Physics and Astronomy
- Standard Physics
Specialization tracks available
- Scholarships and financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, you'll need to do these two things:
- Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration, including departmental awards.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need. Get started here.
Click here for more info about about WSU scholarships and financial aid
For students in physics and astronomy
The College of Arts and Sciences awards more than $50,000 in scholarships each year. For more information, see the CAS scholarships page.
- Facilities and technology
The extensive facilities of the WSU physics department include numerous lasers, spectrometers for measuring energy of particles and light waves, ultra high-vacuum equipment, mass spectrometers, computers, high-speed data acquisition instruments, and gas guns. The atomic-scale structures of solids and surfaces are studied using scanning tunneling microscopy and nuclear probe techniques. Nanometer studies of surfaces are carried out using atomic force microscopy. Other equipment includes mass spectrometers, Auger and Photoelectron Spectrometers, electron spin-resonance and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, x-ray spectrometers, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, and a nuclear reactor elsewhere on campus. A computer laboratory with a wide variety of computers and terminals is open to all physics majors.
- Campus organizations and activities
The Physics and Astronomy Club brings students together to watch films, visit laboratories, and do experiments.
Each year, usually during Dad's Weekend, the club hosts the annual Pumpkin Drop, a gravity experiment using pumpkins and the 12-story Webster Hall.
- Strengths of the program
- The highly rigorous undergraduate program prepares graduates to be competitive in top graduate programs or for employment.
- 63% of faculty are Society Fellows: the national average is 10 percent.
- Faculty bring in over $9 million per year in grant funds—and students are invited to join faculty mentors in research.
- The department hosts a weekly colloquium where WSU faculty and visiting scholars discuss their research work.
- The James Richard Jewett Observatory houses the largest refracting telescope in the state of Washington. Several times a year, star parties are held for the public to attend.
- Careers in physics
What you can do with a degree in physics and astronomy
• Alternative energy science and energy exploration
• Medical profession, imaging, and diagnosis
• Sports technologies, biophysics/engineering
• Architecture, civil engineering, materials science
• Education, forensics/law enforcement
• Computer technologies and applications
• Special effects, sound engineering, design
• Science journalism, technical writing
• Astronomy, aerospace technology
• Capital investment, insurance, computational economics
• Intellectual property law, patents, policy development
• Nanotechnology, computer engineering
• Manufacturing quality control, invention, entrepreneurship
• Environmental science/engineering, oceanography
• Meteorology, chaotic systems, cryptography
Skills you can market with a degree in Physics and Astronomy
• Problem-solving and analytical skills
• Quick understanding of complex problems
• Ability to model complex systems
• Understanding of how objects move and the forces involved
• Ability to organize, analyze, and interpret scientific data
• Mathematical and computer skills
• Critical reasoning and logical-thinking skills
• Determination, focus, curiosity