If you're fascinated by the hows, whys and what-ifs of the physical world, a major in physics might just be for you. Physicists study the laws and patterns that govern God's world.

Overview

With in-depth course offerings and small class sizes, a Calvin physics degree is excellent preparation for careers in research, high-tech industry and high school teaching. Alumni have been accepted into top graduate programs in physics, applied physics and astronomy. 

A number of academic options allow you to tailor your program to your specific goals, including:

  • A 32-credit-hour program that combines well with minors such as scientific computing and engineering
  • An in-depth 58-credit-hour program that leads to a bachelor of science in physics 
  • Minors in optics and astronomy

Other opportunities

  • On the "Astronomy in the Southwest" January interim course, you can visit major telescopes throughout New Mexico and Arizona, visit major geological sites to study the history of our own planet and work with Calvin's own telescope in Rehoboth, New Mexico. 
  • In a summer research project with a professor, you will gain hands-on experience in studying an open-ended question on the frontiers of physics and astronomy. Recent examples of projects: computer simulations of helium atoms, measuring electrical signals in neurons, and discovering new types of variable stars.  Learn more »

"Calvin physics has more than prepared me for graduate classes. ...I was awarded the 'excellence in teaching' award for graduate students, which I completely attribute to the wonderful examples I had at Calvin for how to teach physics."
—Charlotte DuLaney '11

Careers in Physics

See job placement rates for Calvin grads.

Student involvement

Join the department for seminars on cutting-edge research and meals at professors' homes; gain valuable experience as an observatory assistant (operating Calvin's telescopes), homework grader, or lab assistant.

Keep Exploring

Visit the department's website

Related News


Accelerated research

from The Spark

By the numbers

Top 5%
Calvin’s ranking among baccalaureate colleges whose graduates go on to earn PhDs
55
journal articles and books produced by physics faculty 2002–2012

Scholarships

Dollar amounts reflect awards given for the 2014-15 academic year.

Ivan E. and Rebecca J. Boerman Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,000
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.30+
  • financial need is considered; planning to major in physics
  • apply through the physics department
Debra Deur Scholarship
  • award amount: $4,000
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is required; biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, environmental science or physics major
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Alexander and Lavonne Dragt Family Honors Scholarship
  • award amount: varies
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+
  • financial need is not required; an Honors Scholarship recipient; preference is given to those pursuing a degree in mathematics, physical or biological sciences, nursing or music
  • automatic consideration
Gerrit, Beulah, and Robert Dragt Memorial Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,600
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+
  • financial need is not required; preference is given to those pursuing a degree in mathematics, physical or biological sciences, nursing or political science
  • automatic consideration
Gabrielse Scholarship
Roger D. Griffioen Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $1,550
  • first-year
  • GPA of 2.50+
  • financial need is not required; planning to major in physics; first-year students must enroll in Physics 133 and 134 or higher level major-sequence courses
  • prospective students apply through the physics department; automatic consideration for returning students
Hazel Holtrop Natural Resources Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,000
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 2.50+
  • financial need is considered; have an interest in a natural resource career such as forestry, wildlife biology, fisheries biology, hydrology, soil science, outdoor recreation, etc; have an interest in outdoor activities
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+; minimum ACT score of 28 or SAT of 1250
  • financial need is not required; planning to major in biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics and pursuing a career in research or post-secondary education
  • complete the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarship application
R. and J. Iwema Education Scholarship
  • award amount: $3,200
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 2.50+
  • financial need is considered; intending to teach math or science in grades 6-12
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
William J. and Glenda Masselink Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,000
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; physics major or pursuing a pre-dentistry or pre-med program
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Secondary Science Education Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,400
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; major in secondary science education
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Steensma Family Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; physics major
  • apply through the physics department
Tetzloff Scholarship
  • award amount: $1,250
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is required; physics major; first preference is given to those from Minnesota; second preference is given to those from the midwest; special consideration is given to students who have a foreign language minor and/or is involved in extracurricular activities
  • apply through the physics department
Van Baak Scholarship in Experimental Physics
  • award amount: N/A
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; physics major; demonstrate promise in experimental work in physics or astronomy
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
VanDerWoude Science Scholarship
  • award amount: $3,500
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.30+
  • financial need is not required; physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry or mathematics major
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Raymond and Florence Van Heuvelen Memorial Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; pursuing a pre-medical/medical research program or majoring in one of the sciences; preference is given to graduates of Holland Chr HS (Holland, MI)
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
John and Lillian Van Oosten Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, geology, geography, or environmental science major
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
Howard and Betty Van Till Scholarship
  • award amount: $1,600
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.30+
  • financial need is not required; physics major
  • apply through the physics department
Veltkamp Secondary Science Education Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.20+
  • financial need is considered; declared major in the secondary science education program
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
View all scholarship opportunities

Faculty

Ryan Balili

Ryan Balili
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 175
rbb5@calvin.edu
616-526-8743

Stanley Haan

Stanley Haan
Professor; Academic Dean
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 325 | SB 180
haan@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6442

Loren Haarsma

Loren Haarsma
Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 260
lhaarsma@calvin.edu
(616) 526-8517

Paul Harper

Paul Harper
Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 161
pharper@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6408

Jim Jadrich

Jim Jadrich
Professor
Science Education
Department of Physics and Astronomy
NH 052C
jjadrich@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6409

Larry Molnar

Larry Molnar
Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 173
lmolnar@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6341

Steve Platt

Steve Platt
Lab Services Coordinator
Department of Physics and Astronomy
splatt@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6329

Michael Scholten

Michael Scholten
Part Time Instructor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 161
mschol17@calvin.edu

Beth Schoone-Jongen

Beth Schoone-Jongen
Department Administrative Assistant and Webmaster
Department of Physics and Astronomy
NH 156
eas22@calvin.edu
(616) 526-7087

Jason Smolinski

Jason Smolinski
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
js85@calvin.edu
616-526-8711

Matthew Walhout

Matthew Walhout
Professor; Dean for Research and Scholarship
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 327
mwalhout@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6566

Talk to us

Matthew Walhout Matthew Walhout
Department Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 327
mwalhout@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6566

Admissions

Connect with your counselor via email, phone, or in person. They'd love to hear from you and answer your questions!

Or, ask us your questions on Facebook.

In the fall and spring our counselors travel throughout the world to meet with students—see if they'll be in your area!

Teach This

Interested in teaching? You can gain certification in Physics as a:

Calvin's teacher education program also contains education-specific course requirements that you must complete prior to certification. See course requirements for:

Professor Robert Keeley talks about the education program.

Learn More

Explore Calvin's teacher education program.

Contact Loren Haarsma for more information about teacher certification in Physics

Read the teacher education guidebook for more detailed information about certification.

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