Learn the Foundations. Take on the Challenges.

Whether you’re planning for a career in engineering, astronomy, meteorology or other fields, you’ll learn the core concepts and laws of nature studying physics. In learning the foundation from which all other sciences are built, you’ll be introduced to the principal subfields of electromagnetism, mechanics, thermal physics, optics and quantum mechanics by world-class professors. Expand your classroom knowledge with extracurricular research under the guidance of Physics Department faculty and fully embrace a liberal arts inquiry experience.

Student Spotlight Linking STEM, Social and Environmental Awareness

Dimosthenis Chrysochoou ’22

Dimosthenis Chrysochoou ’22

For two summers, Dimosthenis worked to connect STEM subjects to social and environmental awareness. Through the Summer Research Program he detected harmful algae blooms in the Finger Lakes and also measured a rocket’s pitch to better understand spatial awareness in navigation.

“The interface between social sciences and STEM is oftentimes overlooked, but I think that to understand the importance of our work, it’s really important to be socially aware.”

Joint Engineering Degree Advanced Opportunities

If you’re interested in pursuing engineering, HWS offers a joint degree option with both Columbia University and Dartmouth College. You’ll build a well-rounded foundation in the liberal arts at Hobart and William Smith and combine that knowledge with a technical engineering program. After five years, you’ll receive a degree from both HWS and either Columbia or Dartmouth.


and Research

Physics students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of research projects include:

  • Joshua N. Andrews ’20: Remote Sensing through the Use of Consumer Drones: Harmful Algae Blooms in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State
    Ileana Dumitriu, Adviser
  • Max Brodheim ’20: Masses and Radii of MML 48: A New Pre-Main Sequence Eclipsing Binary
    Leslie Hebb, Adviser
  • Magdy Nagy Gad ’19: Developing Detection of Blue Green Algae Using Drones Outfitted with Spectrometers
    Ileana Dumitriu, Adviser

Experiential Education Learning Beyond

experiental learning

Participate in research leading to a NASA rocket launch or attend lectures on gravitational waves hosted by HWS faculty.

At HWS, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact, practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.

Global Education

No Borders: Global Education

Study wavelengths in Germany or astronomy’s link to climate change in South Africa. Learn the origins and early inovations of mathematics and science by spending a summer studying in Greece.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.

Global Education

Learn the foundations and applications of physics and how it impacts our world.

  • PHYS 110 Star Trek Physics

    From warp drive to cloaking devices and holodecks, learn about the possibilities of concepts from the TV shows and movies, what the principles of physics tell us about these possibilities and what these possibilities would mean for the principles of physics.

  • PHYS 340 Introduction to Astrophysics

    Build on your physics foundations to understand the universe.

  • PHYS 470 Relativity, Spacetime and Gravity

    Explore the ideas and consequences of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity.

  • PHYS 465 Classical and Quantum Information and Computing

    Study the intersection of physics and the study of information.

Facilities Out of This World


Further your study of astronomy at the colleges’ Richard S. Perkin Observatory, a teaching and outreach facility that provides students with opportunities to observe and photograph objects trillions of miles from Earth. The 17-inch diameter telescope is specifically used by students in PHYS 210 – Observational Astronomy. The Observatory is also open to the HWS Community for stargazing on certain nights throughout the year.

Alum Impact Opportunities for a Lifetime

Frank Oplinger ’18
Software Engineer, Tech Lead at Raptor Maps

Frank’s interest in engineering led him to the Physics Department. With the help of physics and computer science faculty, he was introduced to incredible oppurtunitites that set him on a path toward software engineering.

Businesses that employ our graduates

  • The Blackstone Group
  • DJ&A
  • H3X Technologies
  • Credit Suisse
  • The Hackett Group
  • Raptor Maps, Inc.
  • Clark Construction Group
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science

Universities where our graduates are studying

  • Cornell University
  • Vanderbuilt University
  • Fisk University
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Dartmouth College
  • Warren Alpert Medical School
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law