The Department of Physics was established in 1968 as a Post Graduate Centre, University of Mysore, at KREC (now NITK), Surathkal and it was shifted to Mangalagangotri Campus in 1972. After the establishment of Mangalore University in 1980, the department continued to offer M.Sc, M.Phil and Ph.D. degree programs under Mangalore University.The department has produced around 1700 postgraduates, 31 M Phil and 170 PhDs since its inception.Currently, the department is fully equipped with basic infrastructure for academic and research programs with 128 M.Sc. students and 91 PhD research scholars, pursuing their studies.
The Department had started Materials Science Division in the year 1988 and Electronics Division in 1994 in collaboration with reputed Electronics Industries / National Laboratories as an expansion of academic programs. Subsequently, both the divisions became independent departments. M.Sc. Radiation Physics program was started during the year 2007 as a twinning program with Texas A & M University, USA.
Medical Physics Division is created by the University under the Department of Physics and it is offering M.Sc. in Medical Physics since 2018. This programme is approved by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Government of India and is being run in association with A.J. Hospital and Research Centre, Mangalore and Mangalore Institute of Oncology.
Significant number of post graduate students of the department have cleared CSIR-UGC JRF / NET, GATE, K-SET and other competitive examinations. Many of the alumni have obtained their PhD degrees from reputed institutions in the country / abroad and are also working as faculty members / scientists in reputed institutions of the world.
The faculty members of the department are engaged in research programs in thrust areas of Nuclear & Radiation Physics, Nonlinear Optics. Positron Annihilation Studies, Polymer Electrolytes, Thin Films, Nanomaterials and Nanocomposites. They have undertaken various research projects from national and international funding agencies like UGC, DST-SERB, DAE-BRNS, DRDO, TWAS, CSIR, etc. The faculty members have also been engaged in collaborative research work with scientists from BARC Mumbai, IGCAR Kalpakkam, RRCAT Indore, IUAC New Delhi, VECC Kolkata and many other Institutions in the country and abroad.