The physics curriculum introduces students to concepts and techniques basic to our present understanding of the physical universe. Diverse courses emphasize theories and principles that give a broad, unifying description of nature and develop the analytical reasoning needed for their use. Probing the interrelationships between matter and energy, students and faculty explore such fields as astronomy, electromagnetism, optics, elementary particles, relativity, quantum mechanics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Laboratory training stresses the design of experiments, the techniques of precise measure-ment, the interpretation of data, and written and oral communication. In advanced courses, students apply their skills through independent studies and research with faculty, in contrast to programs at larger institutions. Our physics faculty is dedicated to teaching, while remaining actively engaged in research. Mentoring relationships between faculty and students are the norm.

The physics major is flexible. The possibility of a double major is limited only by interests, dedication, and imagination. Gettysburg College physics majors have succeeded in diverse careers, including government, law, and management, as well as engineering, particle physics, and molecular biology. Our majors who choose graduate study have been well prepared for study in a wide range of fields, including astronomy; astrophysics; biophysics; business; geophysics; environmental, electrical, nuclear, and ocean engineering physics; and physiological psychology.

"I keep the subject constantly before me and wait till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little,
 into a full and clear light."  -Sir Isaac Newton

As asserted above, the study of physics is an inexhaustible inquiry into the fundamental laws and structure of the universe, the nature of matter and energy, the forces by which objects interact, and the behavior of objects at all scales, from the smallest subatomic particles to the entire observable universe.  Such inquiry is guided by the idea that ultimately these laws and structures are understandable, simple, and beautiful.  Through study, questioning, experimentation, and sometimes just plain tinkering, scientists and engineers seek to discover and describe "the nature of things," and then to use these discoveries and explanations to solve practical problems in such fields as product development, process control, and instrumentation, to name a few... 

The design of experiments, techniques for precise measurement, and interpretation of data are explored in fully equipped laboratories.  Each faculty member is dedicated to and actively engaged in teaching and research, and mentoring relationships between faculty and students are the norm rather than the exception.

Our web pages seek to introduce the physics, engineering, and astronomy programs and resources available at Gettysburg College. If after reviewing them and the Physics Department's Student Handbook, you have any questions, please don't hesitate to visit the Physics Department in Masters Hall and speak with a faculty member; we are here to help in any way possible.


The Physics Department is an active participant in the programs of the Cross-Disciplinary Science Institute.