The Sciences at W&L

The term "science" commonly refers to a set of methods of investigation leading to knowledge of the natural world. These methods include systematic observation, the formation of hypotheses and theories, and the construction of experiments to test these theories and hypotheses.

Washington and Lee offers curriculum and majors from all three areas of scientific study: Formal Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Science.

  • The formal sciences study the symbol systems used to express ideas in the other sciences and to express ideas about these symbol systems themselves.
  • The life sciences are concerned with the study of living organisms, including human beings, and the manner in which they interact with their natural environments.
  • The physical sciences investigate the underlying materials and processes of the universe, ranging from the subatomic to the intergalactic.

Environment and Benefits:

  • Close and supportive student-faculty relationships
  • Abundant opportunities and funds for student research guided by PhD faculty
  • Excellent facilities
  • Successful placement in top graduate and professional programs
  • In short, many of the benefits of studying at larger institutions with the added strength of far more individual attention and assistance.

Formal Sciences

A "formal science" is an area of study that uses formal systems to generate knowledge such as in Mathematics and Computer Science. Formal sciences are important subjects because all of quantitative science depends on them.

Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences are the areas of sciences concerned with the study of inanimate natural objects. It is the study of the physical properties of the world around you. Studies in the physical sciences advances knowledge of the forces and principles that give order to the natural world and are the foundation for engineering, technology, medicine, and all other sciences.

Interdisciplinary Science Programs

Within the Sciences at W&L, there are three interdisciplinary programs, two curriculum-based programs and one grant initiative. Environmental Studies and Neuroscience involve complementary, cross-departmental studies to provide the appropriate context and research experiences to develop disciplinary expertise in these fields of study. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute Initiative provides funds for facilities and courses which increase accessibility of science studies to a broader academic audience as well as retain more students in STEM areas.