Physics is "the fundamental science." Astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and engineering all apply the principles of physics to specific problems. Almost all areas of modern technology involve the applications of physics — and undergraduate study in this field provides a solid foundation for further work and study in physics, astronomy, and engineering.
"The Department of Physics and Astronomy's faculty are focused on the undergraduate experience. We provide many opportunities for students, from original research with faculty to teaching assistantships to helping mentor peers as a Learning Assistant. Students leave our program prepared for graduate school or a variety of professional careers."
-Brad Johnson, faculty
Beyond the Classroom
Opportunities beyond the Physics classroom include teaching assistant (TA) positions, research assistantships, and professional seminars.
- Teaching Assistants (TAs) assist professors in principally two ways: lab assistance and grading. Duties for lab TAs may include attending weekly training meetings, running lab sessions, and grading lab reports. Students are paid an hourly rate based on experience with the department. Students often find that they have a much deeper understanding of physics after being a TA. One of the favorite benefits to being a TA is having a key to the student study space, affectionately called "The Zoo."
- Active research programs in astronomy, theoretical and experimental condensed-matter physics, and physics education actively recruit undergraduate students, allowing them to participate in cutting-edge research. Students are also welcome — and encouraged — to approach faculty individually and inquire about research opportunities.
- Physics Department Seminars include colloquia and conferences put on by faculty and field scholars, which all students are invited to attend.
Careers and Graduate Studies
Recent Physics graduates have found positions in a variety of fields including software development, optoelectronics, engineering, failure analysis, and education, among many others. The skills acquired in Western’s Physics program have prepared students for further academic studies in Physics, Astronomy, Engineering, Patent Law, Medical Physics, Medicine, and Education.
Employers of Recent Western Graduates:
- Peace Health Laboratories: Lab Assistant
- Systems Interface, Inc.: Engineering Technical Support
- Wireless Applications Corporation: Design Engineering Assistant
Western graduates who pursue graduate studies are doing so at such schools as:
- Edmonds Community College: Nuclear Medicine
- University of Oregon: Applied Physics
- University of Washington: Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Requirements and Course Details
To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.