The Department of Physics is deeply committed to excellence in research, teaching and outreach, an important part of its mission. Our faculty are engaged in highly innovative and state-of-the-art research programs in optics, condensed matter physics, materials physics, astrophysics, and biophysics. Physicists at Oregon State have made path-breaking contributions to the development of leading technologies, such as transistors, semi-conductors, superconductors and magnetic resonance imaging. The department has pioneered twenty-first century teaching techniques through its award-winning Paradigms in Physics program which trains undergraduate students how to think like physicists.
A national leader in undergraduate education for more than 20 years, the department's National Science Foundation-supported Paradigms in Physics curriculum has transformed upper-division physics courses to emphasize conceptual learning, applied learning and problem-solving. In 2018, the American Physical Society selected the Department of Physics as one of top three universities for improving undergraduate physics education.
The department offers an undergraduate major and minor in physics. Students can select one of eight specialized options: Applied Physics; Biological Physics; Chemical Physics; Computational Physics; Geophysics; Mathematical Physics; Optical Physics; Physics Teaching. In addition to learning within the cutting-edge Paradigms in Physics curriculum, physics majors work on collaborative and original research projects with faculty in the areas of applied and theoretical physics.
Graduate students of physics pursue master's and Ph.D. degrees in close collaboration with faculty mentors and experts. Together, graduate students and faculty members address challenges in the research areas of high energy physics, cosmology, condensed matter physics, physics education, optical physics and biophysics.