Physics Academic ProgramPage 1
The physics program at Harvey Mudd College offers a physics major with both depth and breadth in classical and modern physics, theory and experiment, and foundations and applications. It does so through lecture-discussion courses, laboratories and joint student-faculty research. The program serves as a strong foundation for graduate work or employment in physics and other technical fields. The goal of the program is to produce exceptionally able graduates with a strong understanding of, and deep interest in, physics, and with an unusually broad background in science, mathematics, technology, humanities and the social sciences, as provided by the HMC curriculum.
The Physics Department underwent a very successful external review in February, 2004. The report of the team of three physicists from leading graduate and undergraduate institutions begins:
“The physics program at Harvey Mudd College is truly excellent and among the very best at undergraduate institutions across the country…”
Among non-PhD-granting institutions, none graduate as many physics majors as HMC (apart from military academies). A greater fraction of our graduates earn prestigious NSF graduate fellowships than almost any other school.
Besides moving on to excellent graduate programs and permanent jobs, our students win a variety of awards both within the College and at the national level. Some recent highlights include:
- 19 winners of prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships since 1997
- Three winners of the American Physical Society’s Apker Award for the outstanding physics student in the country
- Three winners of Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowships since 1998
- Two winners of Churchill Fellowships to spend a year of graduate study in England
Open door policy
Professors make themselves very accessible to students in both core and upper division courses.
The department emphasizes small-group discussions, and spends half of the contact hours in core lecture courses in discussion sections of roughly 18 students with a professor. Unlike at places with graduate programs, at HMC physics the undergraduates come first! (second, and third!)