Physics is the study of matter and energy and the fundamental forces of nature that govern the interactions between particles. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena, from quarks to black holes, from individual atoms to the many-body systems of superconductors. It is the foundation of all the physical sciences. The knowledge and problem-solving skills acquired by physics graduates enable them to pursue careers in a wide range of scientific and professional disciplines.
A Bachelor of Physics Degree from the Department of Physics at Purdue University prepares students to pursue careers in an extraordinary variety of areas, including technical and managerial careers in industry, and basic research in universities, industrial laboratories, and national laboratories. The general problem solving skills developed in physics studies serve students well not only in careers in physics, but also in careers in other sciences, engineering, law, medicine, management, finance, and government. A master's degree empowers students to obtain advancement in secondary school teaching in Indiana, or to gain employment in research or other science-related positions in government or industry. About fifty percent of graduating seniors from the Department of Physics at Purdue University pursue a Ph.D degree, which is required for advancement at universities and at higher-level positions in research in industries.
Purdue Department of Physics is the largest in Indiana, and one of the largest in the country, both in size and in breadth of its course offerings and research programs. While it is located at a Big 10 school with all of the opportunities of a major University, Purdue has the small-school advantage of special courses just for physics majors, with excellent student-teacher ratios. The Department of Physics at Purdue University is also unique in offering a thorough training in electronics, computational physics, and several choices in advanced laboratory.
The Department of Physics participates in several programs that enhance the academic experience of undergraduates, and assist them in gaining employment or entry into graduate schools.
Physics majors can optionally take several selected courses in other departments and earn a "minor" in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Earth & Atmospheric Science, Statistics, or in several other areas.
The Department offers a minor in Astronomy for all majors, as well as a minor in Physics for non-majors. See the links below for more information:
The Department of Physics at Purdue University emphasizes undergraduate research as an integral part of the learning experience that reinforces and amplifies skills acquired in the classroom. A seminar class is offered in the first semester that introduces freshman students to "Current Topics in Physics Research." The class serves to familiarize students with research being carried out currently in the department and prepares them to become involved in undergraduate research as early as their second semester at Purdue. The Department encourages also students to participate in one of the many summer internship programs offered around the United States.
Purdue physics majors are also encouraged to participate in a state-of-the-art research project. A two-semester course sequence, the Senior Project offers one-on-one collaboration with a professor chosen from a highly regarded physics faculty. The collaborating professors are usually chosen based on their research interests. The research specialties include condensed matter physics, nanotechnology, nonlinear optics, biological physics, high-energy nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics, accelerator mass spectrometry, and applied physics.
The Cooperative Education Program is a program in which students alternate periods of full-time work and full-time study. It gives students the opportunity to gain valuable experience and earn a substantial amount of their financial support while working toward a bachelor's degree. It is considered as a professional level employment in the students' fields of interest and a genuine educational experience.
Co-op students complete the same degree requirements as other physics majors and can expect to earn a "B.S. plus experience" in four-and-a-half to five calendar years.
Interested students can contact the Cooperative Education Coordinator (765-494-5383). Under the honors or applied physics program-honors programs, a student with a grade index of .80 or better, or under the regular or applied physics-regular programs, a student with a grade index of 3.00 or better (or in the upper half of class) is eligible to apply for the Cooperative Education Program. Normally, a student would complete the curriculum through the third or fourth semester before leaving campus for a work period.
It is highly recommended for physics majors to broaden their educational experience by taking some required courses in an approved university in a different country. Special programs such as the Transatlantic Science Exchange Program are also available to physics majors at Purdue University. Our students can also work as a teaching assistant in a state-of-the-art, nationally recognized, computer interfaced introductory laboratory, as an assistant in many internationally known research programs, or in national research laboratories including Fermi Lab and laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland, Andes Mountains, and Antarctica. www.studyabroad.purdue.edu
The basic core courses in physics and mathematics, supplemented by courses relevant to each specialized major option, provide a broad scientific education that enables students to obtain entry into physics-related careers, into graduate schools in physics, engineering, other sciences, and into professions such as law, medicine, and finance.
In the sophomore year, students may enroll in a one-credit hour seminar class that helps them explore different careers in physics. The class offers an opportunity for students to meet with alumni and professors in the Department of Physics, and to learn valuable career development skills from these experiences.
Some examples of careers chosen by physics majors include:
Teacher, Research Scientist, Lawyer, Physician, Architect, Technical Sales Person, Electrical Engineer, Aeronautical Engineer, Astronaut, Geophysicist, Software Designer, Technical Analyst, Reliability Engineer, Process Engineer.
For more information on Careers in physics, please visit http://www.physics.purdue.edu/career/.
Students in the Department of Physics at Purdue University are encouraged to join The Society of Physics Students (SPS), an organization dedicated to fostering a community of students interested in physics. This organization provides not only camaraderie and friendship but also valuable leadership experience, and information about current trends in employment for physics majors. The SPS also sponsors freshman mentoring programs and field trips, and operates an undergraduate lounge. Under its auspices, physics majors have successfully participated in the now-famous National Rube Goldberg Competition, a Purdue tradition.
A variety of other organizations are available to Purdue University Students.
Change of Degree Objective (CODO) is available for students planning to transfer from other majors into physics.