Frequently Asked Questions
Physics boils down problem solving to its essence. In this program of study, the methods of problem solving (theory, computation, and laboratory investigation) are employed to solve complicated problems that we face today. A degree in physics is not direct preparation for any job which exists today, but it may be the best preparation to enter fields which do not yet exist and to enter fields which are constantly changing. You will find computer programmers, analysts, engineers, entrepeneurs, professors, lawyers, and industrial researchers on this list. Prominent physics majors outside of academia include Elon Musk (CEO), Jimmy Carter (former president), Sally Ride (astronaut), and Brian May (guitarist for Queen).
Perhaps the main reason why students major in physics is that they have a deep interest in the subject. It is wonderful to be able to study the nature of the physical universe for four years as an undergraduate, exploring subjects such as space and time, biological physics, quantum mechanics or astronomy. However, while an intuitive feeling for physics is very valuable in many contexts, perhaps equally important to your job prospects is that a physics education is as much about learning to do physics as it is about studying the great discoveries of the past.
This aspect of a physics education is often described as "developing problem solving skills." The term "skill" is probably not the best word for what's involved here. "Problem solving skill" is not about learning calculus or how to wire up the electrical circuits for an experiment -- although you will do both of these things as a physics major. Instead, "problem solving" involves confronting problems which no one has told you how to solve -- and finding in yourself and in the resources around you some way of cracking the problem.
A combination of engineering and physics is attractive to some students. Several students at any time are pursuing degrees that combine the two fields. This combination makes sense intellectually, as much technological progress takes place and some basic questions are asked in this area of intersection. Graduating with strength in both areas also can be useful to one's career. The following are examples of different options that students pursue. Working with an academic advisor in physics at S.U., students can decide what is the best option for them.
One can earn a double major by satisfying the degree requirements of one college (Arts and Sciences or Engineering and Computer Science) and satisfying two major requirements (e.g., engineering courses and physics courses.) In this way you earn one degree with two majors.
The combined degree option allows one to earn two degrees from the two colleges. For engineering and physics, you need to satisfy the degree requirements, including core courses, for both programs.
You can minor in one of the fields while completing a degree in the other.
The glass case on the first floor is filled with demos and maintained by Sam Sampere.
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For information about research, teaching, and other opportunities, consult the research page.
Get your questions answered by a faculty member, see the Advising page or contact the department.