You will learn in small classes with faculty members who know you as an individual, meaning you’ll get one-on-one encouragement, personal direction and research opportunities suited to your needs. Lab work will be central to your studies, and as a senior physics major, you will conduct an in-depth research project. Senior projects often produce work that is presented at conferences or published in journals.

About the Major

The program offers an excellent grounding in the ideas, thinking skills and lab experience necessary for postgraduate study in many science-based disciplines. Prospective engineers will be interested in Hamilton’s five-year, combined-degree programs with Columbia University, the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Washington University in St. Louis. Astronomy is a minor within the department.

For those who are athletes and want to double major: it is possible! I walked on to the varsity tennis team at Hamilton, where last season I played second singles and second doubles. Athletics at Hamilton has been a hugely rewarding part of my experience at Hamilton, and the professors are also very understanding of this.

Isabella Schoning ’16 — physics and Russian studies double major

In the best liberal arts tradition, courses stimulate analytical thinking, critical reading and the ability to write and speak with clarity and authority. Most majors enter with a basic knowledge of algebra, trigonometry and calculus but the department welcomes students who come to the discipline through other interests and are willing to pursue the preparatory courses they need to major or minor in physics.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Optical Physicist, NASA Headquarters
  • Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Navy
  • Professor of Physics, University of Michigan
  • Materials Science Engineer, United Technologies Carrier Corp.
  • Associate Editor, McGraw-Hill
  • Engineer, General Motors
  • Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Director, Global Financial Systems, Foster Wheeler Corp.
  • Physics Teacher, Natick Public Schools

Contact Information

Physics Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4367 315-859-4807 physics@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Survey of Physics I 100F

The first semester of a year-long sequence (100-105) for pre-med students and other scientists who require a year of physics. Topics include mechanics, fluids and thermodynamics. Emphasis on applications of physics in medicine and in other sciences. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory. First year students need instructors signature to enroll. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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The Physics of Musical Sound 175F

An exploration of the physics that underlies the production of musical sounds. Covers issues ranging from the nature of musical sound, units, some physical principles, theory of wave propagation and mode formation, physical mechanisms of how instrument families work and their implications for musical use of those families, acoustics of halls, digital simulations of musical instruments and performance spaces. Algebra will be used. Four hours of class/laboratory per week. May count toward a concentration in physics. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Electronics and Computers 245S

Hands-on introduction to the concepts and devices of electronics. Study of analog and digital circuits, computer architecture, assembler programming and computer interfacing. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Topics in Astrophysics 330

Topics may include fundamentals of stellar structure and evolution, the black hole and the curvature of space-time, the structure of galaxies and galactic dynamics, theories of the structure and evolution of the universe. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Topics in Quantum Physics 340S

Exploration of topics in contemporary physics using the tools of quantum mechanics developed in 290. Topics may include multi-electron atoms, molecules, solid state physics, lasers and quantum optics, nuclear physics, nuclear magnetic resonance, surface physics and particle physics. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Quantum Theory Seminar 450S

An exploration of the mathematical tools and foundations of quantum mechanics. Topics include angular momentum, spin, measurement, bound states and perturbation theory. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning. Oral Presentations.

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