The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to ensuring that your campus experience is the best it can be. Thirkield Hall serves as the building for the Physics and Astronomy program.

Alumni and friends, we are here to facilitate your engagement with and philanthropic support of Howard University. 

Our History

  • The Department of Physics & Astronomy is the oldest Historically Black College & University (HBCU) Physics program in the United States to offer a B.S. (degree conferred in 1920), M.S. (program initiated in 1934) and PhD. degree (program started in 1958).


Our Mission

  • The mission of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Howard University is to strive for a recognized level of national and international excellence in research and teaching in physics and to assure that students of African American descent and other underrepresented groups are given the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential in physics.
  • The Department has offered the baccalaureate degree since the early 1920's. The primary undergraduate goal of the Department of Physics and Astronomy is to produce a significant number of underrepresented minority students at the baccalaureate level who are prepared to enter graduate school in physics or pursue alternate careers in education,industry, medicine, etc.


The Department first offered the Master of Science degree in the early 1930's and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the early 1960's. The goals of the Department at the graduate level include:

  1. Being the largest producer in the country of African American physicists at the doctoral level
  2. Being the premiere program of its size in the country within a few selected areas of physics.

The department currently has a full time faculty of 20 members, majority of whom are African Americans. In the mid 1990's undergraduate enrollment averaged 20 students per year and graduate enrollment averaged about 30.Over the years, the programs have produced more than 80 PhD. graduates in physics and over 175 masters students. Approximately 70% of the doctorate and 75% of the masters graduates have been students in groups that have been traditionally under-represented in the field of physics.


NSBP Group Photo

Karen Wright
Administrative Assistant