At a glance

From its central role in international astronomy projects to the extraordinary research opportunities afforded to its students, Carthage offers a rigorous and exciting environment in which to study the mysteries of the universe.

Major

  • Physics (optional concentration: Astrophysics) 

Minor

  • Physics

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The physics program at Carthage ranks among the nation’s best in preparing students for STEM careers, according to the American Institute of Physics.

Introducing students to fundamental physical principles underlying the natural world, the the Carthage physics major provides a strong foundation for careers in engineering, medical physics, teaching, finance, data analytics, and other fields. Given the department’s deep involvement in space science research, the physics major often appeals to those interested in aerospace careers.

  • <div class="lw_widget lw_widget_type_blockquote"><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="blockquote__image"><img src="/live/image/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2133,2131/488_Liam_Carls.jfif" alt="Liam Carls ?23" class="lw_image" width="183" height="183"/></div><div class="blockquote__content"><div class="blockquote__quote"><svg aria-hidden="true" class="icon icon-round-left-quote" width="48" height="33"><use xlink:href="#icon-round-left-quote"/></svg><p> “I’ve been so fortunate to be able to fly onboard the zero-gravity plane, G-Force One! As I am a part of the space science projects with the Microgravity Team, I’ve designed and built experiments that gather experimental data in a zero-gravity environment.”</p></div><footer class="blockquote__footer"><span class="blockquote__author"><a href="/live/profiles/516-liam-carls">Liam Carls</a> ’23</span></footer></div></blockquote></div>
  • <div class="lw_widget lw_widget_type_blockquote"><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="blockquote__image"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/84/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,400/36370_Clayton-Markech-24.rev.1668538149.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/84/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,400/36370_Clayton-Markech-24.rev.1668538149.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/84/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,400/36370_Clayton-Markech-24.rev.1668538149.jpg" alt="Clayton Markech ?24" width="183" height="183" data-max-w="300" data-max-h="400" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </div><div class="blockquote__content"><div class="blockquote__quote"><svg aria-hidden="true" class="icon icon-round-left-quote" width="48" height="33"><use xlink:href="#icon-round-left-quote"/></svg><p> “I chose Carthage because I had the opportunity to get large-school experiences at a small school where the professors can get to know me personally.”</p></div><footer class="blockquote__footer"><span class="blockquote__author"><a href="/live/profiles/2159-">Clayton Markech</a> ’24</span></footer></div></blockquote></div>
  • <div class="lw_widget lw_widget_type_blockquote"><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="blockquote__image"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.jpg" alt="Logan Dales" width="183" height="183" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,26,738,764/36412_4902_163701665847155.rev.1668994992.jpg 3x" data-max-w="738" data-max-h="738" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </div><div class="blockquote__content"><div class="blockquote__quote"><svg aria-hidden="true" class="icon icon-round-left-quote" width="48" height="33"><use xlink:href="#icon-round-left-quote"/></svg><p> “I choose Carthage for the smaller size knowing that means I would be able to get to know professors as people, and I wouldn’t just be an ID number to them, which sometimes happens at large schools. The physics program here is amazing, with connections across the country that I’d hope would make for a great education and possibly help me find a job post-graduation. Lastly, I came to Carthage to continue my swimming career, and the pool faculty and the coaches were amazing.”</p></div><footer class="blockquote__footer"><span class="blockquote__author"><a href="/live/profiles/2177-logan-dales">Logan Dales</a> ’25</span></footer></div></blockquote></div>
  • <div class="lw_widget lw_widget_type_blockquote"><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="blockquote__image"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.jpg" alt="Julia Radtke?s Student Profile Image" width="183" height="183" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/99/width/183/height/183/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1498,1499/36057_Julia_Radtke_24.rev.1666275263.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1498" data-max-h="1499" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </div><div class="blockquote__content"><div class="blockquote__quote"><svg aria-hidden="true" class="icon icon-round-left-quote" width="48" height="33"><use xlink:href="#icon-round-left-quote"/></svg><p> “The science classes I have taken at Carthage have helped me see how interesting and complex science can be.”</p></div><footer class="blockquote__footer"><span class="blockquote__author"><a href="/live/profiles/2110-julia-radtke">Julia Radtke</a> ’24</span></footer></div></blockquote></div>

Student Opportunities

Conduct research with NASA

Members of the microgravity team working onboard Zero-G. The space sciences program at Carthage is a nationally recognized undergraduate program that provides students hands-on opportunities in technology development and atmospheric sciences through partnerships with NASA and academic researchers around the world. Carthage students and faculty regularly conduct research aboard NASA’s zero-gravity aircraft, as part of ongoing experiments and technology development for space hardware. Students also participate in NASA’s RockSat and CubeSat programs, with students designing and building experiments to be flown on NASA spacecraft. This work makes Carthage an excellent choice for students interested in aeronautical and space sciences. Many Physics Department alumni are now pursuing advanced degrees in aeronautical engineering or working in the industry. 

Learn more about space sciences at Carthage


Home to the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium

Carthage is the home institution for the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, the second-largest space grant consortium in the country with more than 40 affiliate members across academic institutions, government agencies, aerospace industry, and nonprofit organizations. The WSGC mission is to support STEM research at both the undergraduate and graduate level, aerospace workforce development, and K-12 STEM education and outreach at our affiliate institutions.

Learn more about the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium


Access to Top Facilities

Physics students at Carthage have access to some of the world’s best telescopes, from Yerkes Observatory near Lake Geneva, Wis., to Kitt Peak in Arizona. Students are involved in forefront research activities with faculty, including galaxy imaging for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and cutting-edge research for the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics. The department’s dynamic faculty is actively involved in many different research areas. Prof. Jean Quashnock studies the formation of the universe using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Prof. Brian Schwartz uses lasers to study the basic building blocks of matter.


Active Physics Community

The Carthage chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) is active and award winning. The chapter has earned distinction as a national Outstanding Chapter for two consecutive years. SPS is a student-led organization that runs education outreach to local schools.

Learn more about Student Organizations


Recognized for Excellence in STEM Careers

When it comes to preparing undergraduate physics students for careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Carthage is among the best in the country, according to the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The AIP selected the Carthage Physics Department for its new study on effective undergraduate physics programs. According to the AIP, Carthage was selected because of its strong record in preparing students with bachelor’s degrees in physics and placing them immediately into careers in STEM fields.

Learn more about careers in physics