Physics: A Major

October 17, 2007

Exactly what is a Physics Major?

Once again the course catalog has a wonderful description of this major: “[Physics] investigates the properties, changes, and interactions of matter and energy. The study of physics does not involve following a recipe; rather, it entails developing an attitude or way of looking at phenomena and asking questions.” This is a great degree for anyone who loves science and solving problems. You learn to ask the right questions to determine the different phenomena around the world. Why is the sky blue? Why does the Earth travel around the sun? And other phenom

But where can you go with this degree? Anywhere! Over the next month we will be delving into the different aspects of the Physics degree and how you can utilize it. You will have the opportunity to learn more from alumni who chose this major. Other features will include loads of links to aid you in discovering the different possibilities. So take a moment and come discover the different quarks of the Physics degree.

Visit the Department of Physics and Astronomy website for lots of great information. The Alfred P Sloan Foundation has provided a great overview of the field of physics, click here for a pdf summarizes different opportunities.


Now What to Do with a Physics Degree

There are a lot of options for the physics major but you do have one choice to make first: do you want to work or do you want to go to graduate school? This decision will help you decide what you want to do later on in life. If your dream career is working at NASA then I do suggest going to graduate school. A lot of different career fields in the sciences require a higher degree beyond the bachelors.

While it is a little difficult to pinpoint actual job titles I can give you a taste of the different types of employers you can look forward to with a degree in physics.

o Colleges and universities

o Meteorological organizations

o Commercial industry

o National Aeronautics and Space Administration

o Research

o Planetariums

o Federal government e.g., Military, Coast and Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Map Service

o Industry e.g., automobile, jet engine, space vehicle design, controlled fusion device design

o Plus many more!

Here are a few resources to help you get started in discovering what you want to do with your physics degree.

o The Society of Physics Students

o The Nucleus: A Resource for Physics and Astronomy Undergrads

o Careers in Science and Engineering

o Print resources in the Career Center

o Your Physics professors!

Physics Resources

When looking at different resources to find more about a degree area and careers always think of variety.  Don’t stick with just one type of resource to use in your research.  Below you will find a good list of different types of resources you can use to find more about physics and related careers.


o       American Association of Physicists in Medicine

o       American Association of Physics Teachers

o       American Institute of Physics

o       American Physical Society

o       Society of Physics Students

o       The American Mathematical Society

o       Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics          

o       The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Job Websites

o       Tip Top Jobs for Physicists

o       Energy Jobs

o       Computerworld

o       Tech Interns

Graduate Schools

For those of you on the road to post-secondary education you have a lot of choices to make regarding the right graduate school for you.  One of the best websites in helping you narrow down your list of graduate schools is  There you can search by program and specialization.  So start searching because graduate application deadlines are fast approaching.

Print Resources in the Career Center Office

o       Job Choices For Science, Engineering, & Technology Students magazine (Free copy to CofC students)

o       Careers in Science by T. Easton

o       Careers in the Environment by M. Fasulo and P. Walker

o       Careers in Science and Engineering by the National Academy Press

o       Careers in High Tech by N. Basta

o       Plus hundreds more that can help you with your career and graduate school search

Please note that some of the associations may also have job links or other resources you can use during the job search.  And of course one of the best resources are your professors.  They have an in depth knowledge of the fields you want to enter into and can give you a wealth of information about them.

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