Department of PhysicsAcademics

About the Department

Empowering Scientific Minds

Physics studies the interactions in our universe, which can involve anything from designing buildings, transit, and medical devices to understanding the furthest corners of distant galaxies. The physics department at Gustavus is dedicated to educating future scientists and engineers. Learning physics in a liberal art setting prepares you to be a well-rounded problem-solver, with one-on-one instruction by your faculty members, research experiences, and a vibrant community-oriented learning environment. You'll work in facilities designed to teach and involve undergraduate researchers with top-end equipment, from the observatory on top of Olin Hall to the state-of-the-art acoustics lab.

Throughout your degree program, you'll experience a dynamic, student-centered learning environment. Your award-winning professors are at the top of their fields and engage in active research collaborations with students. With Gustavus physics, you can achieve your full potential in the classroom, lab, and career. If you plan to attend a top-rated graduate program in physics, engineering, or some related field, the Gustavus physics program will prepare you to excel. Whether you want to explore space, create tomorrow's sustainable technology solutions on Earth, or anything in between, Gustavus physics is where it all begins.

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Recognized as One of the Best Physics Programs in the Country

As a physics student at Gustavus Adolphus College, you will be part of a strong and engaged community of scholars in the beautiful State of Minnesota, and a member of an academic program that has been a leading undergraduate source of successful engineers and physicists. Located in St. Peter, MN, the stunning Gustavus Adolphus campus is a perfect place to build close-knit relationships with proximity to big-city opportunities. You're minutes away from the medium-sized city of Mankato and an hour from the dynamic Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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Discover your path:
Majors, Minors, and Related Programs

Approximately two-thirds of Gustavus physics graduates attend graduate or professional school in physics, engineering, law, or medicine. The Gustavus physics major is designed to prepare students to be highly skilled and innovative leaders. In your first two years, you'll study the broad foundations of physics, from classical mechanics to quantum theory. Then, you'll expand and deepen your learning to advanced and applied physics, including electronics and instrumentation, experimental physics, and core theory areas like mechanics, electromagnetic theory and quantum mechanics. Gustavus physics students also frequently double major, recently involving music, mathematics, economics, or philosophy.

Opportunities in Physics

Strong Academics in a Strong Community

The Department of Physics is a close cohort extending their learning beyond the classroom. The department hosts two annual picnics, a competitive ultimate frisbee match, and more. The Society of Physics student chapter also hosts events for the Gustavus and St. Peter community, including Science on Saturdays for elementary kids and highway clean-ups. The physics program prepares you for graduate school and your career through an environment where you can receive a strong academic foundation, receive individual support, and connect with like-minded individuals, all within a vibrant community.

Explore ways to connect with physics

  • Research — There are ample opportunities for physics research all four years, allowing you to engage in hands-on scientific exploration and collaborate with faculty mentors. Physics students frequently win state, national, and international awards for their research including securing positions at top research labs and organizations.
  • Faculty Advising and Academic Support — The physics department has resources such as tutoring and study groups and faculty who are dedicated to support your success.
  • Internships — Many physics students complete a summer internship to gain hands-on experience, explore different career paths within physics, participate in research activities, enhance their resume and professional network.
  • Study Away — By planning ahead and working closely with your faculty advisor, you can successfully incorporate studying in another country with your physics major and gain an enriching and transformative learning experience.
  • Student Organizations — There are several student organizations and an honor society to help you build strong connections outside of class.
  • Student Awards — The Department of Physics has several awards and scholarships to encourage students in their pursuit of physics careers and recognize their achievements.
  • Facilities and Equipment for Learning — The department's facilities provide a well-equipped environment for you to study, conduct research, and explore the field of physics. The availability of specialized equipment and dedicated spaces promotes active learning, collaboration, and hands-on experience.
  • Alumni Network — The physics department maintains a strong network of alumni who are actively involved in supporting the experiences of current students.
  • Career Paths and Graduate School — The versatility of a physics degree allows you to pursue diverse career paths and the physics department offers resources to help guide your decision. The majority of Gustavus physics majors do choose to pursue such a graduate-study option.


Meet the extraordinary students and faculty in physics. They are pioneering research across disciplines, from sustainable engineering to measuring radio waves on Jupiter.

Meet our Faculty

Mary Davenport ’25

Mary Davenport ’25

Physics Major

“The physics major challenges me to my limits but I enjoy every step of the way. The challenge has brought me closer to my peers and my professors.” Developing a passion for physics in High School, Mary has found the Gustavus Physics Department to be a place where she is challenged, but never bored and […]

Read more about Mary Davenport ’25

Keep in Touch with Physics

The Gustavus physics program prepares you for career success in anything from advanced physics research, to subfields of engineering, medicine, or even law. The supportive community and close relationships with faculty are an ideal environment for you to thrive. Plus, even though the courses can be challenging, physics students do more than study. They are involved in athletics, fine arts, student leadership, community service, and many clubs on campus. This holistic approach to a liberal-arts education will make you well-prepared for your future career.

Contact Physics

Phone: 507-933-7308

Olin Hall, 214
800 West College Avenue
Saint Peter, MN 56082