Physical Sciences

The physical sciences, as a branch of natural science, focuses primarily on the study of non-living systems. However, just as these areas of study are broad, the physical sciences intersect with a wide range of career opportunities, which can be found in the private sector, in education and academia, and in all levels of government.


The contemporary study of the physical universe encompasses systems ranging from the microscopic — atoms, nuclei, and elementary particles, to the very large — planets, stars, and galaxies, and the Wellesley Physics department introduces students to the study of all that falls along that spectrum. Since physics covers such a broad band, students of physics develop concrete and transferable skills that can be applied in a number of different settings — academia, industry, research, government, nonprofits, and more.


Geoscience is the study of earth and all of its systems, and geoscientists investigate these interactions using transdisciplinary approaches to address questions related to how the Earth formed, how it evolved over geologic time, and how its continued evolution affects the environment in which we live. With geoscience being such a broad major of the study of the earth, there are many areas in which one could specialize and use to pursue career opportunities.


Chemistry is the knowledge of the properties and behavior of atoms and molecules, and it is crucial to our understanding of medicine, biological systems, neuroscience, nanotechnology, environmental science and a myriad of other areas. Therefore, there are a wide range of career options for chemistry majors and minors!


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Wellesley Career Education

What is astronomy? In the most basic definition, astronomy is the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, gas, galaxies, gas, dust and other non-Earthly bodies and phenomena. As you think about careers in astronomy or astrophysics, the profession is a relatively small community compared to other science career fields.

"I think that it is important to remember, no matter your major or interests, that you should be open to ideas and paths that are not necessarily the norm. In doing so, you may ignite a passion within yourself you did not know you had. In my experience, it has almost always been worth it to take a chance and take a detour from the path I am following. I've had a lot more fun that way, and gained many valuable experiences I would not have had otherwise."

“Under the Andean sun, we excavate the site that shows evidence of occupation for nearly 3,000 years.”

“I previously had dreams to be an author, but found myself called by the combination of logic, mystery, and truth in science.”

[The Fulbright] is meant to achieve diplomacy in a different way, in the form of relationships between neighbors and coworkers and friends, rather than embassies and trade agreements

National Institutes of Standards & Technology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (NIST SURF) (students)

Kate Dailinger
Kate Dailinger

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) at NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, MD, and Boulder, CO. The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission.  Eligible are currently enrolled undergraduates who are US citizens or permanent residents, majoring in chemistry, computer science, physics, engineering, materials science, fire research, nanotechnology, information technology, mathematics, biology, manufacturing, statistics, or another STEM discipline.

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship (students)

Kate Dailinger
Kate Dailinger

Supports one or two years of undergraduate study in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and natural sciences. Eligible are college sophomores or juniors who are US citizens, permanent residents, and nationals intending to pursue research careers in STEM fields. Campus application deadline typically in late November/early December.

Churchill Scholarships (rising seniors & alumnae)

Kate Dailinger
Kate Dailinger

Supports one year of graduate study (including one-year research degrees) in science, mathematics, or engineering at Cambridge. Eligible: graduating seniors and recent alumnae of Wellesley College who are US citizens with majors in appropriate STEM fields. Campus application deadline typically in early October.