Physics

Physics is the study of the physical universe and is fundamental to science, engineering and the technology industry. From black holes to quarks, solar systems to atoms, tornados to blood flow, physics describes the underlying forces and structure of nature. The physics program incorporates both the theoretical and practical aspects of physics, using innovative teaching methods with an emphasis on active classroom experiences.

Program Highlights

  • Learn in cutting-edge learning environments, guided by the best ideas from leading physics education researchers around the world
  • Enjoy a learn-by-doing approach that begins with a first-year introductory physics class taught without formal lectures and continues in upper-division courses where students work on increasingly sophisticated and open-ended projects
  • Work in teams to make a wide range of computer-aided measurements (with motion sensors, force probes, radiation detectors and more) to study physics principles
  • Collect and analyze real data the same way a professional scientist would to determine directly how physics works in the real world
  • Work with a diverse group of peers: 30 percent of our physics students are women and 30 percent are from Hawai'i

Courses

While all physics students must take a certain set of courses for their physics degree, they also get to choose to have an emphasis that they feel will best suit them. Current emphases include:

  • Traditional physics, which is meant for students wishing to pursue careers focused on applied physics and engineering
  • Environmental science, which is meant for students interested in environmental issues

Students experience projects as major project contributors, collaborating across disciplinary boundaries, presenting results at regional and national conferences and applying their knowledge to current problems as they learn to be tomorrow's scientists. Students have the opportunity to work with professors on research programs as well as conducting their own research. In addition, seniors can either pursue their own research project for their capstone, or choose to do a professional internship.

Preparation

A physics degree indicates strong quantitative problem-solving skills. Graduating students will be able to tackle difficult problems in many fields and their skills will be prized by industry, academia and everything in between. The broad training provided by a physics degree gives Pacific University graduates a wide range of career options. Many of our students go on to graduate school to continue their education. Others pursue additional education in engineering. Others begin their careers directly after graduation, often in technology. Students interested in teaching often complete a master’s of arts in teaching degree at Pacific.