Information for Prospective Students

Rhodes physics majors are vibrant, involved, motivated, hard-working men and women. We count many student-athletes among our majors, as well as students involved in music, community service, and a wide variety of other extra-curricular activities. Over the past eight years, 30% of our majors have been female (which is above the national average of 22%). The student experience in the physics department at Rhodes is one that imparts fundamental knowledge of physics, encourages creativity in the application of physics through research (see Student Research Opportunties), and provides for the transformation from student of physics to physicist.

Why Take Physics?

From a practical standpoint, much of modern everyday life and advances in technology are rooted in physics. In physics, we learn valuable critical thinking skills and logical ways of quantifying the natural world. This way of thinking about problems can be very valuable outside of physics in any discipline that involves logical analysis (economics, law, engineering, and architecture, among others). Many branches of science, such as chemistry and biology, rely on basic physical principles.

From an intellectual standpoint, taking physics introduces us to a unique way of looking at the world. Physicists analyze the world using a “first principles” approach. We try to interpret a problem in terms of its simplest pieces and make connections to basic underlying principles in order to fully understand the problem. When we study physics, we learn to express ideas with the clarity and precision of a scientist.

What Do Physics Majors Do?

Physics is a strong base for many careers, including those outside the sciences. Many students use the physics major as a springboard for rewarding careers in areas such as finance, law, and education. The majority of physics majors do go on into scientific careers, however. Roughly one third of our graduates pursue graduate study in physics, obtaining masters and doctorates in physics. Another one third of our graduates pursue advanced studies in a closely related field such as engineering, medicine, or other related science. Another one-third of our graduates find jobs using their physics backgrounds and work as engineers, computer scientists, laboratory specialists, etc.