Physics, in the words of Albert Einstein, is a refinement of everyday thinking, and Einstein should know! After all, he refined our everyday thinking about the nature of space and time. While the natural world seems to be complicated and filled with a countless variety of phenomena, the refined thinking of physicists and their careful experimentation have shown us that the natural world can be well understood in terms of a strikingly small number of fundamental principles.

As a physics student at Berry College, you will learn to refine your thinking, conduct careful experiments and develop a deep understanding of the workings of nature – from the very small (sub-atomic particles) to the exceptionally large (the entire universe). You will begin by learning the principles that govern everyday phenomena, but by the time you earn your degree, you will be initiated into the mysteries of relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos theory. These skills will be invaluable whether you opt for a career in physics, astronomy, engineering, medicine or any other field.

Physics at Berry
Berry offers three different Bachelor of Science degrees in physics. Our Professional Track major is for students who intend to pursue graduate study in physics or astronomy. Applied Physics is a major is for students who want to prepare for careers in engineering or technology. We also offer a General Physics major for future high school physics teachers and others who want a background in physics but plan to work in other fields. In all cases, the course of study begins with a two-semester introductory course in physics and a number of mathematics courses. Building on this base, students can take advanced courses in computational and mathematical methods, modern physics, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, optics, quantum mechanics, and advanced laboratory techniques.

Berry also offers a dual-degree program in astronomy in conjunction with the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Students spend three years at Berry, and then two years at Hilo. Upon graduation, these students receive a B.S. in General Physics from Berry and a B.S. in Astronomy from the University of Hawaii.

Engaged Faculty
The physics faculty members at Berry are enthusiastic, energetic, and interested in getting to know their students. They conduct research in computational, theoretical and experimental physics as well as astronomy. They care deeply about teaching and are eager to involve undergraduates in their research.

Fantastic Facilities
The physics program is housed in Berry’s state-of-the-art science building. Physics majors learn in spacious classrooms and labs. They enjoy a dedicated student- projects room for experimental or computational work and often work side-by-side with faculty members in individual faculty research laboratories. In addition, Berry has a small observatory that is used for outreach and astrophotography.

Firsthand Learning
Physics majors at Berry don’t just learn in their classes. They also learn through a wide variety of work experiences related to their studies. Whether they are tutoring students, setting up laboratory equipment, hosting “star parties” at the observatory or conducting original research, Berry physics majors get a chance to enhance their education while they earn a paycheck.

Special Opportunities
Undergraduate research is particularly emphasized at Berry, and physics majors are encouraged to get involved in research as soon as possible. Berry physics majors have the opportunity to work as paid student researchers, either part-time during the academic year or full-time over the summer. Berry physics majors engage in research with Berry faculty on topics like experimental acoustical physics, astrophysics, and computational quantum mechanics. Students have co-authored published research articles in journals such as Physical Review E, the American Journal of Physics, and the Astrophysical Journal. Berry students have conducted research during summers at NASA’s Marshall and Kennedy Space Centers, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Washington and Rice University. Students are encouraged to present their research at Berry’s annual Symposium on Student Scholarship, as well as at regional and national conferences. Physics majors also stay involved by participating in the Berry Chapters of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma (the physics honor society). 

Physics for Your Future
Many Berry physics majors have gone on to graduate study in physics, astronomy or engineering at schools like Cornell University, the University of Colorado, Duke University, Louisiana State University, and Indiana University. Other students have pursued careers as physics teachers, research technicians or computer programmers. Regardless of your career choice, a degree in physics from Berry can prepare you for what lies ahead.