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


Space protector

from The Spark

By the numbers

Top 5%
Calvin’s ranking among baccalaureate colleges whose graduates go on to earn PhDs

Scholarships

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

Ivan E. and Rebecca J. Boerman Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.30+
  • financial need is considered; planning to major in physics
  • search and apply here
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
  • search and apply here
Alexander and Lavonne Dragt Family Scholarship
  • award amount: $3,800
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+
  • financial need is considered; must be planning to major in math, physical or biological sciences, nursing or music
  • search and apply here
Gerrit, Beulah, and Robert Dragt Memorial Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • 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
  • search and apply here
Gabrielse Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,100
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+ and an ACT of 32+ or an SAT of 1400+
  • financial need is not required; planning to major in physics
  • search and apply here
Roger D. Griffioen Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $1,800
  • 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
  • search and apply here
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
  • search and apply here
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • first-year
  • GPA of 3.50+; minimum ACT score of 30 or SAT of 1300
  • financial need is not required; planning to major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics or mathematics and pursuing a career in research or post-secondary education
  • search and apply here
R. and J. Iwema Education Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,900
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 2.50+
  • financial need is considered; intending to teach math or science in grades 6-12
  • search and apply here
William J. and Glenda Masselink Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,100
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; physics major or pursuing a pre-dentistry or pre-med program
  • search and apply here
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
  • search and apply here
Steensma Family Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,400
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.00+
  • financial need is considered; physics major
  • search and apply here
Tetzloff Scholarship
  • award amount: N/A
  • 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
  • search and apply here
VanDerWoude Science Scholarship
  • award amount: $4,000
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.30+
  • financial need is not required; physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry or mathematics major
  • search and apply here
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)
  • search and apply here
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
  • search and apply here
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
  • search and apply here
Veltkamp Secondary Science Education Scholarship
  • award amount: $3,000
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.20+
  • financial need is considered; declared major in the secondary science education program
  • search and apply here
View all scholarship opportunities

Faculty

Ryan Balili

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

Stanley Haan

Stanley Haan
Professor, Dean for the Natural Sciences and Mathematics
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
SB181
js85@calvin.edu
(616) 526-8711

Matthew Walhout

Matthew Walhout
Dean for Research and Scholarship, Professor
SC 327
mwalhout@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6869

Talk to us

Matthew Walhout Matthew Walhout
Department Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 327
mwalhout@calvin.edu
(616) 526-6869

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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