Majors & Minors


From the cosmos to cathedrals, from monsoons to movement, from brains to black holes, students and faculty in Southwestern’s Department of Physics study the world around, within, and beyond us.


Steve Alexander

Professor & Chair

Steve Alexander

Professor & Chair

Physics (Credit: Southwestern University)

With its wide scope and its status as the foundation for many scientific disciplines, physics enables you to understand all forms of mass and energy and their interrelationships. You will explore how the universe works—from the subatomic and molecular levels to the scale of solar systems and galaxies—through systematic observation, theoretical modeling, and experimentation. And fulfilling Southwestern’s innovative Paideia approach to education, physics gives you the tools to make connections between seemingly unconnected phenomena in technologically innovative and artistically creative ways. How is DNA related to the dust swirling about a star? How does the strumming of a guitar or the darkly dramatic register of a tenor trombone behave like a wave traveling within the depths of the ocean or the tremors of an earthquake? You will develop the intellectual and philosophical curiosity to understand first physical principles—foundational concepts that lead to the scientific discoveries that shape our world and drive the technological advances that help improve our lives.

With specialties in geophysics, atmospheric physics, mathematics, and quantum physics, our award-winning faculty offer a rich array of courses, including earth and climate science, classical mechanics, and quantum physics. If your passion is for engineering, you can explore the field in our three-year, dual-degree Applied Physics Pre-Engineering Pathway. You will also have the remarkable opportunity to use the Fountainwood Observatory for research and coursework. Thanks to a generous gift by Max Allen, a local engineer, builder, and amateur astronomer, our observatory houses a research-quality reflecting telescope complete with a digital CCD camera that enables you to for view and process images on your computer.

Real-time Career Exploration

Southwestern Looking Glass

Southwestern University's Looking Glass™ is an aggregation of millions of job postings from more than 40,000 online sources providing current marketplace insights into your degree and career direction.

Many of the occupations featured below are open to new graduates, while others imply additional experience or an advanced degree building on undergraduate work in this field.

Explore professions in:
* Salary estimates do not represent entry-level earning potential.
Other Career Options
Advanced Career Pathways
Additional Occupations


Featured Alumni Stories

Claire Harding ’20

Solving Earth’s Problems from Space

German and physics double major Claire Harding ’20 interned with NASA and will be teaching English in Germany as a Fulbright English teaching assistant.

Read Full Story
Mike May ’20

With Energy to Spare

Recent physics graduate Mike May ’20 demonstrates how taking risks by learning outside your major is crucial to becoming a leader in innovation.

Read Full Story
Southwestern University

Life after Southwestern

Three Southwestern alumni divulge the details of their lives postgraduation.

Read Full Story


Physics News

3-D Printer in Dr. Crosby's lab.

Assistant Professor of Physics Cody Crosby featured on KXAN

Undergraduates in Assistant Professor of Physics Cody Crosby’s labs are learning how to “print” viable human tissues and organs.

Physics majors Emily Ely ’22, Johnna Campbell ’24, and Sameer Rai ’22 in the field during their summer research.

Measuring the Light of the Universe

Undergraduates engage in astrophysical research at Southwestern’s Fountainwood Observatory.

Professor Crosby alongside summer researcher Katie Rosencrantz '22 in the laboratory.

3-D Printing Human Tissue

Undergraduates in Assistant Professor of Physics Cody Crosby’s labs are learning how to “print” viable human tissues and organs.