The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Colby College offers a physics major,
an honors program in physics, a physics minor, astronomy courses and research opportunities,
and support for participation in a Dual-Degree Engineering program.
The primary goals of the physics major are to give students a strong knowledge of physics, skills at solving problems
and communicating scientifically,
an understanding of experimental investigation, and the ability to work hard and persevere.
These abilities will serve Colby physics majors well in whatever careers they go on to choose.
All physics majors are required to take a four-semester sequence of courses in classical and modern physics and
four courses in mathematics or computer science.
After completing these courses, physics majors must take three upper-level courses
from a list of electives, which includes both traditional core courses in physics
(classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics)
as well as courses in a variety of other areas in physics, astrophysics, and closely related subjects.
Students should consult with their academic advisors to select which core and elective courses best serve their objectives.
All physics majors are also required to do a project under the supervision of a faculty member
and to give a talk on it in their senior year.
Physics Honors Program:
Students interested in graduate school in physics or astronomy,
are strongly encouraged to complete the Honors Program in Physics.
The requirements for the Honors Program include those listed above for the physics major
as well as completion of three additional upper-level physics courses and one additional upper-level math course.
Students in the Honors program must complete an honors-level research project in their senior year under the supervision
of a faculty member, give a talk on it, and write an honors thesis.
Students planning to go to graduate school in physics or astronomy are strongly urged to take all four
of the upper-level core courses in physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism,
quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics) in addition to any electives that they choose.
It is also highly recommended that they take the mathematics course on complex variables.
The physics minor is completed by taking the four-course introductory sequence on classical and
modern physics as well as a year of calculus.
Major and Minor Requirements:
For a listing of the specific requirements for the physics major, minor, and honors program,
please see the
Physics Section of the Colby Course Catalogue.
Most professional astronomers and astrophysicists start out as physics majors when they are undergraduates.
At Colby, we do not have a major in astronomy.
However, a number of our physics majors have gone on to graduate school in astronomy
and have become professional astronomers.
Colby students interested in graduate school in astronomy or astrophysics are advised to complete the physics honors major and to
take the two astronomy courses offered at Colby.
For their research project, they are encouraged to work on a topic that is directly related to astronomy or astrophysics.
For further information,
please see the Astronomy at Colby
web page and the
Astronomy Section of the Colby Course Catalogue.
Dual-Degree Engineering Program:
Colby students interested in applying for the dual-degree engineering program
are advised to consult with the faculty advisor on engineering early in
their first year at Colby.
For more specific information,
please see the link Dual-Degree Engineering Program.