Professor in front of class


"We all cared about each other and helped each other succeed, and the professors went out of their way to make sure we were learning and learning well. There isn't a lot more you can ask of a professor than staying with you until 11 p.m. to help you work out a problem. Our professors would do that, and I think I'm speaking for all of my class when I say we loved them for it."  — Ryan Barley, '12  

The Physics major provides knowledge of the physical laws of nature and experience applying these laws in the lab. You can also pursue advanced study in areas including electronics, solid state physics, astrophysics, and elementary particle physics.

Student photographing an eclipse Photos of the eclipse

Ryan Barley and his solar eclipse photo

Why MCLA is Different

You work closely with faculty in both experimental and theoretical aspects of physics. Faculty specialties include astrophysics, relativity, low temperature, and elementary particle physics. In the laboratory, you gain hands-on experience sought by the technical community. In the classroom, you gain valuable problem-solving skills that aid you in any profession you choose. You also learn the place and importance of physics in our society.

MCLA offers these degrees:

Bachelor of Science (BS)
 The BS degree is designed for students who want to continue in physics or engineering after MCLA. If you want to pursue an advanced degree, such as a Masters or PhD, or if you want to pursue a career in research, this degree is for you.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)
For a career in engineering, primary or secondary teaching, or a profession outside of physics such as law, pursue this degree. 

Physics Minor

Students and professor performing an experimentThe physics department is a close-knit community. Our classes are small. Faculty and students gather weekly for pizza and conversation. You can often find our students working together or hanging out in the physics common room. 

You should definitely consider joining our vibrant chapter of the Society of Physics Students. Our chapter was recognized in 2012 as an Outstanding Chapter by the national SPS office. Also in 2012, MCLA inducted its first members into Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honors society. Be sure to check out the MCLA SPS Facebook page

Who Is Hiring Physics Bachelor’s?
A state-by-state listing of the many employers who recently hired physics bachelor’s into science and engineering positions.

Latest Employment Data for Physicists and Astronomers
Reports that provide the latest data on where physicists work and what they do throughout the economy and at different degree levels.

Bachelor of Science (BS)
View a sample 4-year plan to complete your major

 Bachelor of Arts (BA)
View a sample 4-year plan to complete your major


For more information contact Department Chair Dr. Kebra Ward or 413-662-5266.

Physics in the News

Students and professor at a conference

Around this time last year, Kiah DaViega ’21, a physics major, came upon a pamphlet quite by accident. It was the first time DaViega, president of the MCLA physics club, had heard about the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Congress (PhysCon), an undergraduate conference held every four years. The pamphlet stated the next PhysCon would be held from November 14-16, 2019 in Providence, R.I. She knew she had to attend.

Jordan Darling

Jordan Darling ’19 recently participated in a highly competitive research experience program at the University of Rochester. Because scientists believe that warm dense matter may be found inside the cores of giant planets, brown dwarfs, and small stars, “Building HADES will help us understand how these certain bodies form in space.”