Physicists explore and determine the fundamental laws that control the energy, motion, structure, and interactions of matter. These fundamental laws govern everything in the universe, from the largest galaxy to the smallest subatomic particle, making the study of physics not only an exciting intellectual adventure but also the source of many important technological advances, from pocket computing to the orbit of Jupiter.
Penn State Behrend offers two options within the B.S. in Physics degree, General Physics and Computational Physics. Both options involve rigorous theoretical and hands-on laboratory work, and all Physics majors engage in undergraduate research directed by faculty members who are internationally known experts in their fields.
Extensive coursework and research opportunities in astronomy also are offered, supported by an on-campus observatory and the Yahn Planetarium.
Why Penn State Behrend?
Penn State Behrend’s average institutional score on the ETS Major Field Test for Physics (a national assessment test for undergraduate physics education) is in the top 10 percent of all institutions using the test, evidence of our students’ solid grasp of physics’ fundamental principles and of their ability to apply that understanding to the solution of problems.
From the beginning of your studies, faculty members focus on your success. One example: Introductory physics courses take place not in a lecture hall but in a unique studio-style lab where students work in small groups on hands-on experiments or problem-solving activities.
As you progress in your studies, you’ll have multiple opportunities to “do science” as an undergraduate researcher; current active research programs at Behrend involve granular materials, condensed matter, astronomy and astrophysics, the quantum properties of solids, polymer physics, and solar energy collection. Physics students frequently are financially supported in their research, either from the nearly $350,000 in undergraduate research support that the college awards each year or through their faculty mentor’s external grants. This research often leads to presentations at regional and national scientific and professional conferences.