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Physics & Astronomy

Research & Opportunities

Students studying physics and astronomy at Carthage can take advantage of multiple curricular and co-curricular programs, from a pre-engineering dual-degree program, to undergraduate research opportunities with NASA, to the College’s associations with observatories across the country.

Curricular Programs

3+2 Engineering Dual-Degree Program

For students who want to become engineers, Carthage offers an engineering 3+2 dual-degree program. Students spend three years at Carthage and two years at a partnering engineering school. Upon completion of the program, students earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carthage and a Bachelor of Science in engineering degree from the engineering school. Many Carthage physics majors have completed the program and are now engineers.
Learn more about the 3+2 Dual-Degree Engineering Program

ScienceWorks: Entrepreneurial Studies in the Natural Sciences

ScienceWorks is a unique offering at Carthage. The program focuses on the business of science by integrating important skills such as written and oral communication, graphics and artwork, business accounting, management, and marketing. Students get hands-on experience and coursework that prepares them for the job market and career advancement.
Learn more about ScienceWorks

Climatology and Meteorology Minor

This program — unusual at a small liberal arts college — combines geography and physics. The climatology/meteorology minor is directed toward students who are interested in studying climate change and global warming issues and pursuing atmospheric scholarship and research.
Learn more about climatology and meteorology at Carthage


January Term is a month-long period of study in January in which all academic departments offer innovative courses on campus, as well as study tours in other countries. The Physics and Astronomy Department has been extremely active in J-Term, offering courses to both majors and non-majors that display physics in many different, concrete ways.

Recent on-campus offerings include Good Vibrations: The Science of Music, in which students studied the science of music, from acoustics to hearing loss; and Planet Quest, which focused on the search for new planets and extraterrestrial life in the universe. Other courses have focused on climate change, global warming, and making telescopes.

Recent off-campus study tours include Observational Astrophysics, in which students traveled to Arizona to use the 84-inch telescope at Kitt Peak and the 61-inch telescope at Mt. Lemmon.
Learn more about J-Term at Carthage

Research Programs

SURE: Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

SURE offers Carthage students the opportunity to conduct significant research with a faculty mentor during the summer months. Students receive a stipend, room and board on campus, and a small research budget.
Learn more about SURE

Space Sciences / NASA Research

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. Participating students regularly travel to and work with researchers at NASA Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 

Microgravity Program

Carthage students and faculty regularly conduct research aboard NASA’s zero-gravity aircraft.


Students design research payloads that fly aboard sounding rockets that achieve 75-mile apogees and several minutes in the space environment.

High Altitude Balloons Research

Students build payloads for near-space balloon launches. Payloads are carried to altitudes of 100,000 feet and stay aloft for 2+ hours. 
Learn more about Carthage Space Sciences

Observatory Research

The Carthage Physics and Astronomy Department has associations with many regional and national observatories, giving Carthage students access to the best astronomical equipment. Students have the opportunity to use telescopes at the nearby Yerkes Observatory, Kitt Peak in Arizona, and the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, among other facilities.
Learn more about observational research opportunities 

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Carthage physics and astronomy students are involved in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a cutting-edge program in astrophysics and one of the most ambitious and influential surveys in the history of astronomy. An international effort, SDSS has imaged 1 million galaxies and created three-dimensional maps containing more than 930,000 galaxies and more than 120,000 quasars. The data is accessible to the public, is 100 percent digital, and can be used by Carthage students and researchers for advanced astrophysics research.
Learn more

Additional Opportunities

Community Outreach

At Carthage, students are both encouraged and inspired to serve the community. The Carthage chapter of the Society of Physics Students performs outreach for Kenosha schools, teaching elementary, middle and high school students about science and physics.

Student Employment in the Physics Department

Students looking for work as lab assistants, Supplemental Instructors or Department Fellows should contact the department chair. The department regularly hires supplemental instructors for introductory physics courses and lab assistants.

Mid-States Math and Science Consortium

Carthage is a member of the 11-state Mid-States Science and Math Consortium, giving Carthage students access to facilities at other schools including the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Computer science students watch Prof. Mark Mahoney’s recorded lecturers in their free time, so he can nearby “when they do their real learning,” he says. He has company: Physics professor Brant Carlson’s quantum mechanics video playlist has been viewed more than 170,000 times. 

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …