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Augustana ranks in the top 10% of small colleges for its number of physics majors.

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If an Augustana liberal arts education makes you a good problem-solver (it does), then your physics major means you can solve problems with an even greater understanding of how the universe works.

Physics at Augustana can take you in many directions, depending on your curiosities: thermodynamics, mechanics, astrophysics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum physics.

You can major or minor in physics or major in teaching physics in the secondary schools. The full-time physics faculty all hold a Ph.D., and teach all laboratory sessions as well as courses.

If you are interested in combining the applied side of physics and engineering, you can choose a major in engineering physics with a chemical, electrical or mechanical track.

Many physics grads pursue technology careers, while others enter graduate programs in physics, engineering, medicine or education. All benefit from an undergraduate education that pairs them with supportive faculty mentors in research and experimental projects, and novel exploration in engineering design.

What you'll learn

Disciplinary knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge

Gain a deep understanding of your subject and how it connects to other subjects.

Quantitative literacy

Quantitative literacy

Interpret, represent and summarize information. Use math and statistics to solve problems.

Critical thinking and information literacy

Critical thinking and information literacy

Judge and construct arguments, raise questions and define problems. Make a conclusion based on evidence.

Creative thinking

Creative thinking

Combine ideas to create something new. Use imaginative ways of solving problems.

Communication competence

Communication competence

Read and listen carefully. Express ideas (writing or speaking) suited to the audience.


Physics labs in the Hanson Hall of Science include two labs for basic physics, and labs for optics and modern physics, electronics and acoustics, engineering, scanning electron microscopy and an instruments lab. Two research labs are dedicated to non-linear optics and nuclear physics. Students of astrophysics also use the John Deere Planetarium and Carl Gamble Observatory on campus.

• We have a 100% job placement rate for teaching physics in high school for teaching physics majors for the last five years. Plus, Augustana's new POST scholarship program supports teaching physics majors who plan to teach in high-need school districts.

• Our student-led mentoring program pairs first- and second-year students with junior and senior majors. Seniors are paired with an alumni mentor so they are ready to take the next step, whether that’s a job or graduate school.

• Augustana’s many study-abroad options include the spring physics and German course, Science in Society: Switzerland and Germany. Traveling together with professors, students explore some of the most important European sites for technology, innovation, physics and engineering, many using their $2,000 with Augie Choice for travel expenses.

• The award-winning Augustana Physics and Engineering Society (APES) is a fun, engaged group of students focused on developing a sense of community through presentations, outreach to area schools and discussions on modern science.

Augustana Physics and Engineering Society (APES)

The Augustana Physics and Engineering Society (APES) is an active student group; it often wins the annual cardboard boat regatta.

Recent graduates

Georgia Votta ’21 is pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at Michigan State University.

Kristian Mrazek ’21 is a PEGA System architect at Revature in Reston, Va.

Liam Russell '21 is pursuing a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biophysics at the University of Denver. 

Alyssa Klahn ’20 teaches physics at Geneva (Ill.) High School.

John McDonaugh ’20 is pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Notre Dame.

Ellie Mark Sharp ’20 is in the Ph.D. chemistry program at Loyola University.

Robert Holmquist ’17 is a data analyst with divvyDOSE pharmacy in Moline, Ill.

Abdul Rahman Merhi ’15 is a mechanical EIT (engineer in training) at Prism Engineering in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Natalie Viscariello ’14 is a resident at the University of Washington Department of Radiation Oncology in Seattle, Wash.

Allison Pease
More Than I Imagined Allison Pease
“So many people helped me get to where I am now. However, the geology and physics faculty were the most influential.”
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Liam Russell
More Than I Imagined Liam Russell
“All the awesome experiences I was given in the physics department helped me build a strong résumé that got me into multiple grad schools.”
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More Than I Imagined John McDonaugh
“One of the best experiences I had was presenting my physics research from Augie at a national conference.”
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