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About us

Michigan State University's Department of Physics and Astronomy is one of the top-ranked departments in the country.

The department offers diverse courses in physics and astronomy. Undergraduate programs with different emphases may be planned through an appropriate choice of electives from the departmental courses. Other interests may be pursued by concentrating the electives in geophysics, computer science, or other branches of science and engineering.

In addition to our undergraduate program, we offer both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with specializations in accelerator physics, biophysics, chemical physics, elementary particle theory, experimental particle physics, low-temperature physics, many-body theory, nuclear physics, physics education, quantum computing, nanotechnology theory, condensed matter physics, atomic, molecular and optical physics, and observational and theoretical astrophysics.

Michigan State University has made it part of its mission to engage in global outreach. Our department has a long tradition of leadership in the area as well. We draw some of the best students from around the world into our graduate program, and almost half of our faculty members were born outside the United States. Many of our alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in countries around the world.

Our nuclear physics program can also point to a long tradition of international collaborations. The new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams(FRIB), expanding upon the long-successful National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory here on the MSU campus, will bring even more international scientists to our campus and will provide a major economic stimulus to the entire state of Michigan.

Researchers in the department are closely affiliated with a number of other scientific research facilities, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL or Fermilab).

The majority of our faculty members are housed in the Biomedical Physical Sciences (BPS) Building. The BPS Building is the largest academic facility on campus and is linked by skyways and at the basement level to the Chemistry and Biochemistry Buildings, as well as being in close proximity to other science-oriented buildings on campus, such as the NSCL/FRIB Building, Plant Biology, Crop and Soil Sciences, and the Anthony Hall/Engineering Building complex.

Why Physics and Astronomy?

Physics is the study of the physical universe. By means of observation, experiment, theoretical constructions and computer simulations, this science attempts to find the principles, which describe that universe. Among the topics of physics are motion and force, energy, sound, electricity and magnetism, light, atomic and nuclear structure, nuclear reactions, properties of condensed matter, the elementary particles and their interactions, and particle accelerators. A study of physics provides the basic understanding of nature, and develops the analytical skills, which are essential for progress in science and technology, e.g., conducting scientific research, solving environmental problems, advancing biomedical systems, and inventing cutting-edge technology of the 21st century.

Astronomy is the study of the universe beyond the earth. The laws of physics, as they are known from laboratory experiments, are applied to stars, interstellar gas, galaxies, and space itself in an attempt to understand the detailed physical states of these entities. Astrophysics frequently involves a study of matter under extreme conditions that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory; from this point of view the universe becomes a laboratory in which naturally occurring phenomena subject matter to very large ranges of physical parameters. Cosmology, a branch of physics and astronomy, attempts to use theory and current observations to comprehend the history and evolution of the universe.