What Can I Do with My Physics Major?

Overview

What is Physics? Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions. The fundamental ideas of physics underlie all of the basic sciences – astronomy, biology, chemistry and geology – and all of the applied sciences and engineering. Physicists explore a range of natural phenomenon from an understanding of the forces of electricity, magnetism, and gravity, to an examination of the structure of a proton, to the birth of the universe. Their discoveries and inventions, like the transistor and the laser, have changed the way we live. If you like science and math and if you like to explore why things are the way they are, you will like physics.

Because physics underlies all basic science and engineering, physics majors have many career choices. A significant percentage continue their education in prestigious graduate and professional schools – studying physics, engineering (especially electrical and computer engineering and computer science), law, medicine, and other fields. Those entering the job market directly after graduation find their knowledge and technical skills, including modeling of physical systems and computer and electronic skills, are strong selling points.

Skills

The study of physics allows for the development of analytical and critical thinking skills that permits students to succeed in virtually any profession. A sample of these skills and qualities follows.

Research

  • Gathering information
  • Using original sources
  • Applying theoretical approaches to problems
  • Establishing hypotheses
  • Defining problems
  • Synthesizing and analyzing information
  • Experiment design, testing and validation
  • Continually learning new skills and information

Critical Thinking

  • Problem solving
  • Quantitative analysis and interpretation
  • Mathematical skills and modeling
  • Approaching problems from diverse perspectives
  • Avoiding simplistic conclusions
  • Perceiving patterns and structures
  • Reading critically
  • Thinking independently
  • Seeking and understanding logical sequences
  • Systematically analyzing and solving problems

Communication

  • Writing effectively
  • Reading critically
  • Conveying complex information
  • Creating logical arguments
  • Documentation and publication of results
  • Teaching, communication and listening skills
  • Working effectively as part of a team
Sample Internship Opportunities
  • Applied Physics (e.g., Acoustics, Astrophysics, Atomic/Molecular, Biophysics, Chemical, Computational, Condensed matter, Fluid, Nuclear, Optics, Particles and fields, Polymer, Plasma)
  • Basic Research/National Laboratories (e.g., Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Government (e.g., Department of Energy, The State Department, NASA)
  • Education (e.g., Learning First Alliance, The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)
  • Publishing (e.g., National Geographic Magazine, Oxford University Press)
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (e.g., the World Bank)
  • Technology (e.g., Software Engineering/Blue Reference Inc., Optical Engineering /JDSU)

Where are Georgetown Physics Majors Now?

  • Physician
  • Professor
  • Radio Producer
  • Editing Assistant
  • Computer Engineer
  • Computer Scientist
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Consultant
  • Investment Analyst
  • Paralegal
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Research Analyst
  • Policy Analyst
  • Lawyer
  • Teacher
  • Statistician
  • Engineer
  • Actuary
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Technical Writer
  • Research Physicist
  • Technical Sales
  • Scientist/ Research & Development
Relevant Web Sites and Publications
Professional Organizations

For information about career options, internship and full-time opportunities, contact the Career Education Center at One Leavey Center, (202) 687-3493. For more information about the major and degree requirements, contact the Physics Department via Professor Joseph McClure at (202) 687-6016 or mcclure@georgetown.edu.