Program Overview

Program Overview
Examining the Meissner effect before learning about the Ginzburg-Landau theory of superconductivity

The Physics Program at Bard College is dedicated to helping students at all levels gain a better understanding of the universe and how it works.

As in all Bard programs, classes are small, with 20-30 students in the introductory classes, 10-15 in intermediate classes, and 1-5 in advanced classes and tutorials. This allows a high level of student-teacher interaction, as each faculty member handles all aspects of the course themselves: lectures, laboratories, discussion sections, and grading. That way, we are well attuned to the strengths and the needs of each of our students. Classes are never solely lectures, as student questions and comments lead to clarification or elaboration, or take the discussion in unexpected directions. Outside of class, faculty spend a great deal of time with individuals or small groups of students, discussing homework problems, laboratory work, or extensions beyond what was covered in class.

All Physics faculty have their offices adjacent to the classrooms and laboratories, which is where students often do their work between classes, late in the evening, or early in the morning.

We offer the full range of courses for a Physics major and in support of other majors in the sciences. The content of advanced courses and tutorials are tailored to the interests and backgrounds of our upper college students. Students have opportunities to engage in individual research projects with faculty, and each student works closely with one or more faculty members on her or his own senior research project. Students in who wish to pursue graduate study in the sciences or engineering are well prepared, and our recent graduates have been accepted into excellent post-graduate programs.

The learning atmosphere at Bard is informal but rigorous. Working closely with their faculty, students are expected to develop as scientific thinkers, learning how to pose problems as well as how to solve them. Care is taken to place each concept and method we teach into a context of how it was developed and what its limitations are. An unfamiliar idea is treated as a challenge to find the best way to approach it and to gain more understanding.

The faculty in the Physics Program are deeply dedicated to reaching all Bard students. For the student with little science preparation, we offer courses that are challenging but engaging, such as Light and Color, Acoustics, and Cosmology. We also offer a number of courses that deal with historical and philosophical issues in science. We encourage students so inclined to incorporate their study of physics into interdisciplinary programs, ranging from electronic music to science and religion. Understanding science forms a crucial part of any well-rounded education, and science is a cornerstone of the liberal arts education one gets at Bard College.