Physics Scholars Program

We are happy to announce PSP will be offered again during the Fall 2022 semester!

PSP aims to bridge the gap between high school and college physics for those in need and interested in majoring in physics. If you are a prospective physics major and feel like you could benefit by getting involved, let us know you're interested by filling out this form!


Spectra initiated the Physics Scholars Program (PSP) in Spring 2021 as a way to offer first-years the opportunity to bridge the gap between high school physics and introductory sequence physics at Columbia. Due to various socioeconomic circumstances, low-income students may enter college without foundational skills in both math and coding, which lead to a disparity between levels of preparation for both classes and research. PSP aims to teach those skills and build community, while providing students with a support system to succeed in physics.

In the fall, PSP students will meet once a week for a 75 minute active learning session that will cover a number of fundamentals that will be relevant for all physics courses and research. Topics will include basic coding, steps on obtaining a research position, calculus, and other focus areas that are relevant for the class of students. The point is to learn how to solve problems together, build a concrete foundation for your future physics career, and, most importantly, make friends!

In the spring, PSP students will break off into small groups with an assigned graduate student based on fields of interest. This will allow students to be given a first look at what research entails, including the day to day and skill needed. In the past, this has been a great resume builder for freshmen students and helped in getting into research positions across the country, including Princeton's Plasma Physics Laboratory and the University of Washington's Astrophysics department for astrobiology.

PSP has no grading, but optional handouts for additional practice. There are no prerequisites for the course except an interest in majoring in physics. We hope that this program will encourage more students to pursue physics beyond the introductory level.