Physics - From Classroom to Career Sophomore Year


Research Opportunities
Talk to your professor or department chair about opportunities for summer research as paid research assistants on campus or in NSF sponsored summer intern programs at other institutions throughout the country. Current opportunities at Fairfield University include research in Medical Physics to detect cancer with non invasive techniques, high energy particle physics data analysis and detector development in collaboration with CERN and Fermilab, and medium energy particle physics data analysis in collaboration with Jefferson Lab.

Students also consider the program Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Deadlines fall between December and March.

phys_ctc_dwinnI did research with (Prof.) Dave Winn (pictured) the summer after my sophomore year and used this to bolster my application for an REU program during the summer after my junior year.... Participation in an REU program is extremely valuable, especially for those who wish to study Physics in grad school. I participated in an REU the summer of my junior year and learned a great deal about how to conduct research and physics in general. It also looks very good on a grad school or job application. Also, it can be a lot of fun to spend the summer at a large research university in another part of the country and meet new people. - John Stupak III; Physics

Keep Dreaming
What happens after Fairfield? What would be your "dream job" - and how do you get there? Talk to your faculty advisor and other mentors: How can you use your remaining time at Fairfield to prepare for it?

Physics Club
The mission of the club is to "put the fizz back in physics." All too often, it seems that the field of Physics is viewed as unbearably hard and entirely unfathomable - especially by those for whom it is the major course of study. Through events, meetings, projects, and activities, the FUPC brings the wonderful world of physics to the campus and surrounding community and hopes to demonstrate the necessity and enjoyment of understanding the universe - for both physicists and non physicists alike! It's also a chance 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.

phys_ctc_students3BASE 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. Look for the annual listing of summer events.

Tutoring Opportunities
Students can work with the office of Academic Disabilities to tutor peers in General Physics.

Honors Program
Qualified Physics students participate in the Honors Program at Fairfield University. For students with an exceptional academic record of achievement, there is an opportunity to be elected to the country's premier honor society, Phi Betta Kappa.

Talk to your faculty advisor and start planning now for potential internships. Think about "trying out" a career, gaining work experience, marketable skills, potential mentors and a competitive edge. Look for potential matches between an internship with your career.

phys_ctc_vagosMore Advising
Use your faculty advisor and peer advising to choose the best courses, given your interest. Be prepared for your annual meetings.

Line Up References
Start to look for 3+ professors in Physics and elsewhere who might serve as professional references for you. Discuss your future plans with them and ask for guidance. Stay in touch with them so they can speak about your successes in an informed way.

Some majors tutor younger students, independent 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

Sigma Xi
Attend the annual Sigma Xi poster session, held in Bannow every spring. See the work of other Physics majors, and imagine how your work will be displayed in future years. Contact: Dr. Jim Biardi, advisor, (203) 254-4000 ext. 3465; e-mail:

The Association of American Medical Colleges has a terrific set of tip sheets available for students interested in this career path.

Varied options
In general, are you interested in the health professions at Fairfield? You can receive specific advice on how to best prepare yourself to become a strong applicant for admission to a health professions school. Each semester, in addition to regular program meetings with all other pre-health students, you'll meet one-on-one with the program advisor. Those strategy sessions will help you determine how to best plan and carry out all of the components of building your application packet for graduate programs. The health professions advisor also works with students to offer general and specific advice, to anyone on campus, concerning the many professional opportunities in the health sciences. In addition to the necessary science courses, internships and research opportunities, Fairfield also provides you with a strong background in the liberal arts that emphasizes the ethical and human side of medicine, through appropriate courses in the social sciences and humanities. This helps students to build a broad perspective on healthcare and its associated issues, such as patient's rights, health care policy and legislation, ethics, etc.

phys_ctc_bccAll of this serves to make Fairfield applicants stand out during the very competitive admissions process. In sophomore year, you should be earning good grades in all your classes, especially the science classes. The best time for students to gain valuable experience within the health care setting is usually during the summer before the junior year. Make sure that you investigate various options for clinical exposure or research with the health professions advisor during the sophomore year so that you know what you will be doing for the summer.

Also talk to your faculty advisor about:

Many Physics majors also minor in engineering due to interrelationships between the two fields. 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.

To become a high school Physics teacher, students can minor in education or pursue a five-year program that gives 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.


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.

Physics career activities by class year

Freshman Year | Sophomore Year | Junior Year | Senior Year

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