Simply put, Physics is the study of interactions of matter, however the knowledge that physicists aquire can be put to use in many disciplines. For more information, see the WPI Physics Department's own wiki site in the external links section below.

Mission Statement

The Physics Department provides education in physics to both undergraduate and graduate students and contributes to the growth of human knowledge through scholarly work.


Physics at WPI was one of the first subject areas to be offered, along with Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, and "Commercial Study". Originally the department of physics was located inside Boynton Hall. In 1887, it became clear that space was becoming an issue. Upon completion of WPI's third building, Salisbury Laboratories, the physics department moved into the new space along with the mechanical engineering and chemistry departments. In 1959 the department moved into its own building, Olin Hall. The current building houses a Van de Graff accelerator, along with research equipment for X-ray diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance.

Electrical engineering was originally part of the physics department. Plans for the electrical engineering discipline to have its own department and building started in 1897, and were realized ten years later when the Atwater Kent Laboratories were completed.

Academic Options

Undergraduates can obtain degrees for Physics or Engineering Physics. They can also specialize in different areas through coursework: Computational Physics, Optics, Electromagnetism, Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Thermal Physics.

Students can also obtain a minor in physics.

External Links