Physics - From Classroom to Career Freshman Year
What To Do with a Physics Degree
Use your academic advisor and the peer advising program to explore Physics and other potential majors, minors, programs and courses, given your interest. What core courses fit best with your career goals? Work them into your schedule.
What is your "dream job" after graduation? What are you passionate about? Talk to your faculty advisor and other mentors. As a Physics major, how can you use your remaining time at Fairfield to prepare for it through class work, internships, volunteer activities, summer jobs, leadership positions with clubs and organizations, and other relevant out of class experiences.
Work with Professors
A student majoring in physics at Fairfield has excellent opportunities for learning and maturing intellectually and professionally. Among the most important aspects of these opportunities are:
- A close-knit relation with other physics majors and with faculty who are routinely available to students in class, in their offices and in research laboratories.
- The opportunity to participate in the student-organized Physics Club, which arranges for various hands-on projects, guest speakers, and field trips.
- The opportunity to join the Society of Physics Students and the Physics Honor Society (Sigma Pi Sigma). These two organizations are student sections of the American Physical Society which numbers more than 40,000 members nationally and internationally.
- For qualified students, the opportunity to participate in the Honor's Program at Fairfield University and, for students with an exceptional academic record of achievement, the opportunity to be elected to the country's premier honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.
- Opportunities for summer research as paid research assistants on campus or in NSF sponsored summer intern programs at other institutions throughout the country.
Student Profile: Brittany Hunter, Physics major
"My high school science teacher recommended Fairfield, saying it had the best physics department around. The school also has a terrific education program, which is important because I plan to teach high school physics one day.
Besides majoring in physics, I'm minoring in mathematics and education. It's a tough load, but luckily the program is small and both the professors and students are very supportive. As students, we've all become very close knit and we help each other out a lot. I'm taking an optics lab this semester, and that's been one of my favorite classes so far - we made both a telescope and a microscope, and we get to play with lasers. I'm also secretary of the physics club, which meets weekly and allows us to work on small projects as well as tackle long-term ones, such as working on alternative energy sources."
Many related pursuits. Talk to your faculty advisor about these potential options:
Many Physics majors also minor in Engineering due to interrelationships between the two fields. Graduates with a Physics major often apply for the same entry-level jobs as Engineering majors and can continue their studies with a master or Ph.D. in engineering. (A double major of Physics and Engineering is extremely difficult at Fairfield.)
The Association of American Medical Colleges has a terrific set of tip sheets available for students interested in this career path.
In general, Physics majors interested in a career in the health professions can become part of a careful mentoring and advising process beginning in the first year (or whenever they decide to pursue a health professions career). A faculty advisor will guide each student in the selection of an appropriate course of study for a wide variety of careers in the health professions; review the academic standards applied by the various medical/professional schools, and the specific tests required by these schools; help students to identify internships, research, and volunteer opportunities; discuss a range of other important issues related to the world of the health professions; and organize program meetings where health care workers or professional school admissions officers present information. Here is the four-year course of study.
There is no "pre-health" major at the University. Although many pre-health science students select a major in Biology, or Chemistry, it is possible to take all the courses needed for admission to most professional schools while majoring in Physics. Students should explore all their interests regarding potential majors, there is no "best major" for a health professions program student. Freshman year, introduce yourself to the health professions advisor and pick up a copy of the Health Professions Handbook. They will sit down with you and discuss your plans or thoughts about a career in the health professions. Due to the number of required courses, your schedule is tight.
Physics majors also do well in applying to medical school. Physics is integral part of the MCAT standardized test for medical school.
Wall Street often hires physicists as financial analysts because majors have very strong computational skills which are needed in finance. Do some Internet research at such sites as Science Blogs.
To become a high school Physics teacher, students can minor in education or pursue a five year program that give them a physics major and a master in education.
Majors often do well in law school; patent attorneys need to have a science degree. The major also gives them a firm grounding to be a science journalist.
BASE Camp (Broadening Access to Science Education)
BASE Camp projects offer students an informative and fun week-long experience with actual scientific research, across all scientific disciplines at Fairfield. Projects change every year, allowing students to choose from a variety of topics including biomedical science, medicinal chemistry, forensics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, marine ecology, software engineering, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, biophysics, and applied mathematics. This camp is for Bridgeport high school students and physics majors can serve as counselors learning new physics and at the same time gaining experience in tutoring and education.
Some majors tutor younger students independently of the University.
I listed myself on a couple private tutoring websites and found Fairfield Prep and other high school students to tutor. I charged $35 an hour as opposed to ... (what I) would have gotten from the University. I think this also looks good on job/grad school apps. - John Stupak III; Physics
Freshman Housing Option
Take a look at the WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Living-Learning Community at Fairfield. This community is located on the third floor of Gonzaga Hall and is home to about thirty first-year student participants and two upper-class Resident Assistants. The mission of WiSTEM is to provide services and programming to women pursuing the STEM fields through a residential community which emphasizes connections with faculty, alumni, professionals, and peers in an effort to create a supportive environment where women can succeed at Fairfield University. The WiSTEM community enhances the educational experiences by providing academic development and leadership opportunities through its various services and programs.
Attend the annual Sigma Xi poster session, held in the Campus Center every spring. See the work of other Physics majors, and imagine how your work will be displayed in future years.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, was founded in 1886 as an honor society for scientists and engineers. Headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., it is an international research society whose programs and activities promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement. There are more than 80,000 Sigma Xi members in about 500 chapters at colleges and universities, industrial research centers, and government laboratories. Each year the Society initiates nearly 5,000 new members. The Society is a diverse chapter-based organization dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering through outstanding programs and services delivered in a collegial and supportive environment. The mission of Sigma Xi is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public's understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Vision: To be the global honor society of science and engineering. Contact: Dr. Jim Biardi, advisor, (203) 254-4000 ext. 3465; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
View a PDF of the entire list of department and University events.
That's just the start. Take a look at this career information from other University offices that we think is also valuable to Physics majors.