Physics is the most fundamental of all sciences. At WPI, we encourage the curiosity physicists have about how the world works by giving them the resources and the tools to further the study of the nature and properties of matter and energy. Physicists are problem solvers. They are always looking for new ways to approach questions and challenges and develop solutions based on our observations and experimentations.

We want students to follow their passions so a physics degree from WPI is apt to look different for each person. The program is structured so you can take the path that appeals to your natural curiosity. Through project work, students explore everything from developing more protective equipment for athletes to exploring nanoparticles. Students in our specialized master’s in physics education program work in classrooms to improve physics education and teaching methods.

WPI’s world-renowned faculty members inspire both undergraduate and graduate students to become engaged in research projects—which often leads to students making important contributions and writing articles for research journals before graduation. Our faculty works collaboratively with students across disciplines, making discoveries in nuclear and particle physics, modern and classical optics, statistical and solid state physics, electromagnetism, and astrophysics. 

First Woman to Graduate from WPI

Audrey Carlan ’57 earned a master’s degree in physics as WPI’s first female graduate student. She proudly received her honorary doctorate in May 2017 after being greeted by a standing ovation from her fellow graduates. 

Audrey Carlan '57 — 60 years later a dream is realized

The Life of a Scientist

Physics professor David Medich and student Benjamin Dringoli '17 are among more than a dozen members of the WPI scientific community who shared what being a scientist means to them. 

The Annual Goddard Cup - Water Rocket Competition

June 14, 2017

The Annual Goddard Cup - Water Rocket Competition is hosted by the Department of Physics and honors the legacy of Robert Goddard at WPI.

This event is open to middle to high school student teams.  We look forward to you joining us in striving for the Cup!

Enriching Summer Programs

Now is the time to start planning for enriching pre-collegiate summer STEM programs hosted by the Department of Physics. Registration for our various programs opens on February 4, 2017. Students of many ages are invited to find out why STEM fields are so exciting and how they can turn their interests into a career.

SPARK is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
IGNITE is for rising 7th and 8th graders.
LAUNCH is for rising 9th and 10th graders.
Frontiers is an on-campus residential program for rising 11th and 12th graders.

The Department of Physics also hosts summer programs for Girls Inc. Eureka!® -- a year-round STEM-focused cohort program for girls in 8th through 12th grades.

Upcoming Physics PhD Launch Program April 15, 2017 - Postponed

The Physics PhD Launch Program has been postponed. Contact department head Doug Petkie at dtpetkie@wpi.edu for more information.

 

Interested in applying to a doctoral program in physics? Take the first step in an academic career in physics with the Physics PhD launch program at WPI. This program helps juniors and seniors prepare competitive graduate school applications. Women and traditionally underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply. Space is limited and admission to the workshop is competitive.

The Physics PhD Launch flyer offers more information and details about the program.

Exploring the Possibilities of Physics

At WPI, our curriculum empowers students to explore what physics means to them—and allows them to follow their passion. Germano Iannacchione, physics professor, explains:

Facts and Figures

23

current faculty members have won the NSF Career Award

National Science Foundation (2015)
#15

Best Career Placement

The Princeton Review (2017)
#18

for mid-career salary earning potential of undergraduates 

PayScale.com (2016)

Career Outlook

Physicists are some of the best problem solvers, so their career opportunities are vast. Graduates often move into research, academic, or management positions in fields ranging from medical to aerospace to power generation.

Physics Help Schedule

If students need help with physics coursework, they can receive additional assistance at our many Physics Help Sessions. Please look at the Physics Help Schedule (PDF) to find a time that fits your schedule.

In the News

  • Referring to her as “the first lady” of WPI, CBS Boston/WBZ-TV reported on 86-year-old Audrey Carlan ’57, who received an honorary doctoral degree during the university’s Graduate Ceremony yesterday, where nearly 800 master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded. Although she received the first degree awarded by WPI to any woman—15 years before the first female undergraduates were awarded degrees—she did not attend commencement because she was more than eight months pregnant.
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