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Physics students in the lab.



From the atomic to the universal.

Physics uncovers how the systems around us work—from subatomic particles to clusters of galaxies. As a Physics major, you’ll learn to leverage that knowledge to advance our understanding of the universe and solve everyday problems. At Whitman College, you can explore a Physics major on its own or alongside Engineering, Geology, Math, Astronomy or Environmental Studies. Plus, Whitman’s rigorous liberal arts environment will ensure that you get a well-rounded education and graduate with the scientific, research and communication skills needed to succeed, whether you’re heading straight into the job market or moving on to graduate school.

3 Reasons to Study Physics at Whitman

A Flexible, Personalized Program

Want your Physics degree to take you to the stars? Try the Physics-Astronomy combined major. Interests closer to Earth? There’s Physics-Geology or Physics-Environmental Studies. Is it the problem-solving you can’t get enough of? Start your 3/2 Engineering program at Whitman and complete it at Caltech, Columbia or other top colleges.

Get Graduate School-Ready

Join the 50% of recent Physics majors who entered graduate school after earning their bachelor’s degree in Physics at Whitman. Our program offers rigorous training in modeling, computation and application; access to advanced instrumentation on campus; pathways to paid physics internships; and opportunities to research alongside working physicists.

Engaging Professors Connected on Campus

Physics majors benefit from accessible professors, who love teaching and are actively engaged in promoting the sciences on campus. Physics professors sponsor the Society of Physics Students at Whitman to support student-driven projects, and they facilitate student participation in groups like the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

Interested in Physics?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Sydney R., Physics major

“I have found that being a Physics major has made my brain think through problems differently. I like how much overlap my Physics classes have with my everyday life. I think it’s just a cool way to look at the world.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Physics

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Someone about to use an EV charger for their vehicle.
PHYS 105

Energy and the Environment

In this course, youll learn how energy resources—both new and traditionalimpact the environment. Starting with the physical principles that govern energy transformations, we'll look at the ways energy is used in the world and discuss pressing environmental issues from global warming to the disposal of radioactive waste.

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Physics equation.
PHYS 155

General Physics I

This course explores classical mechanics like kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, energy conservation and waves. In lectures and labs, you’ll hone your application of mathematics to problems in physical systems through teamwork and thought-provoking problem sets.

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Physics calculator.
PHYS 245

Twentieth Century Physics I

The past century was an exciting time for advances in thermodynamics, special relativity, nuclear decay and radiation, and more. Paired with an advanced calculus course and physics lab, this class will improve your experimental techniques and problem-solving skills.

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Circuit board.
PHYS 267

Analog and Digital Electronics and Instrumentation

Prepare for an in-depth introduction to the inner logic of your favorite devices. This course surveys the concepts and applications of combinational logic, Boolean algebra, Karnaugh maps, sequential logic, digital circuit design, AC signals, equivalent circuits, filter theory and implementation, and more.

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Physics microscope.
PHYS 324


In this course, you’ll use mathematics and physics to deepen your understanding of molecular and cell biology. Explore topics like diffusion, hydrodynamics and cellular locomotion, signal propagation in neurons, and gene expression through lectures and hands-on labs.

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Physics graphic.
PHYS 377

Particle Physics

From electrons to quarks to neutrinos to the Higgs mechanism, this course introduces the Standard Model of particle physics—the well-tested model that describes all elementary particles and non-gravitational forces discovered up until the present. You’ll learn to use the Feynman calculus and discuss some of the most pressing unanswered questions in this thrilling scientific field.

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Combined Majors

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Graph charts.


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Northern lights.


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Physics students.

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

So many research projects. Joint research with professors. Projects with peers, in labs or the Society for Physics Students club. An independent research project designed by you. Recent Physics majors have led projects exploring dark matter, protein crystal growth, air flow turbulence around musical instruments and conversion of electric motors.

Gain a deeper understanding of the world around you. Whitman has off-campus study programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania. In Whitman’s liberal arts environment, Physics majors get time and flexibility to pursue electives, so you can study abroad without worrying about getting off track. 

Find meaningful work at Whitman and beyond. More than half of Whitman’s Physics majors participate in summer research at Whitman or internships at research universities or government laboratories. Explore your purpose while meeting peer scholars, working in a professional setting and taking the first steps toward an exciting career.

Your Questions Answered

At Whitman, you don’t have to choose. We participate in a 3/2 Engineering program, where you complete your first three years of study at Whitman and your last two at Columbia University, Duke University, Caltech, Washington University of St. Louis or the University of Washington. Whitman’s Physics program offers plenty of opportunities to center engineering in your courses and research. Then you can deepen your training in your chosen field of engineering at one of our affiliated universities.

Physics can provide a foundation for understanding environmental phenomena in the real world. And it can support environmental science by gathering and analyzing data to inform policy decisions. Issues ranging from the effects of pollution, global warming, optimal land- or water-use practices, and effective energy consumption all benefit from insights provided by Physics. If you have an interest in both Physics and the environment, a combined Physics-Environmental Studies major can be a great gateway into a change-making career.

Physics is a versatile major that can prepare you for jobs in engineering, data science, healthcare, environmental policy, education, research, technology and other exciting fields. You can take your degree directly into the job market with careers like data analyst, lab tech or software developer—or open up even more opportunities with an advanced degree in engineering, medicine, biophysics or any number of other specialized fields of study.

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