Department of
Physics and Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy are disciplines that examine the fundamental laws and organizing principles underlying the structure of the natural world. This pursuit plays out across all length and energy scales — from elementary particles to the size of the universe, and from nano Kelvin temperatures of ultracold atomic gases to the fireball of the Big Bang. Physics teaches us about the properties of the basic building blocks of matter and how interactions within ensembles of particles lead to the emergent properties of complex systems found in condensed matter and biology. Astrophysics applies these lessons to understand planets, stars, galaxies, large scale cosmic structure, and the origin of spacetime itself.

Students in our programs will acquire and demonstrate a solid foundation of knowledge in physics and/or astronomy and deeper knowledge of subdivisions of the field related to their interests. They will build the theoretical, computational, and laboratory skills necessary to succeed in graduate school or in the workplace and become leaders in their chosen discipline. Graduates from our programs have diverse careers, ranging from science and engineering research to data science, medicine, the law, education, and public policy.

Physics and Astronomy is the largest department at Rice, with close to 50 faculty and ample opportunity for students to become involved in research.