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Student Opportunities

"What can I do with physics?"

Anything! But sometimes it can be overwhelming to find the right research, internship or job opportunity for you. And what about graduate school applications and GREs?

Smith Physics majors have gathered these resources and student feedback to help with your search for a great research program at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

This page contains three sections:

Career Information

Careers Using Physics (CUP)
People are using physics in their jobs in ways you might not even imagine. Read, listen and watch video clips about some of these people and the many different career paths that are possible with a degree in physics.

CUR Registry of Undergraduate Researchers
Hosted by the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR), the purpose of this registry is to facilitate match-making between undergraduates who have research experience and a desire to pursue an advanced degree, with graduate schools seeking high quality students who are well prepared for research. There is no charge to post your CV, which is then made available to member graduate schools.

Physics Is For You!
A guide to physics in careers and careers in physics. Need we say more?

PhysicsToday.org — Jobs
An excellent physics career site where you can look at job openings in physics, find out about job fairs or browse other links related to physics careers.

Graduate Schools

Applying to Graduate School

Acing the Physics GRE: Tips and Strategies (on-demand webinar)
This pre-recorded American Physical Society (APS) webinar describes the content and format of the Physics GRE subject test, provides advice and tips on how best to prepare for the test, and offers test-taking strategies. Instructor: Jeremy Dodd, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Columbia University.

Everything you wanted to know about Physics grad school (but were afraid to ask)!
This pre-recorded APS webinar features a panel of graduate students in an open, informative, and candid discussion about their experimences. Topics include grad school selection and application process, financial support through teaching and research grants, coursework and qualifying exams, and research and thesis writing.

American Institute of Physics GradSchoolShopper.Com Site
Your guide to graduate programs in physics and related field. Search by research speciality and field, school location, degree type, student/faculty ratio, and total research budget. Helpful!


Some Schools You Might Not Have Thought Of

Northern Arizona University Applied Physics Program (M.A.)
A two-year master's program for students who wish to pursue non-academic, technical employment in the aerospace, defense and high-technology industries, government laboratories and private research institutes. Trains students in various laboratory skills and provides a basic foundation in physics. Click here for a flyer. Application deadline: January 15, 2011

Penn State Medical Physics Program (M.A.)
Medical physics is the branch of physics associated with the practice of medicine, such as therapeutic radiology and nuclear medicine. This is a multidisciplinary program with courses in the Departments of Physics & Astronomy and Radiation & Radiation Oncology. Applications deadlines: Priority (January 15, 2011) and regular (March 1, 2011)

Princeton Neuroscience Institute (Ph.D. only)
This program strongly encourages students with training in quantitative fields such as physics, mathematics, computer science, or engineering to apply. They have a Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience track within their neuroscience Ph.D. that teaches students with a quantitative background about neuroscience problems to which they can apply their quantitative skills. For more information, you can download a brochure here (PDF). Application deadline: December 1, 2010

Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Imaging Science (M.A., Ph.D.)
This center offers masters and doctoral degrees in imaging science and color science, and is affiliated with graduate studies in the astrophysical sciences. This encompasses physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics. These programs cover a wide range of subject areas, including optics, statistics, topology, engineering sensors and data mining. Rolling admissions.

Summer Research Programs

Many Smith students have participated in REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) and SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) programs. They are typically eight- to 12-week programs where students have the opportunity to work closely with a research mentor. Also, some of them are really well funded and give good stipends. REUs are announced between November and January.

If you wish to stay on campus, visit the Smith SURF program's Web site.

If you are looking for an off-campus program, start with the NSF REU sites directory and the Smith College Clark Science Center list of summer research opportunities beyond Smith.

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program
NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. A REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where she works closely with the faculty and other researchers. An REU Site may be at either a US or foreign location. Browse the directory here.

Caltech SURFOpen to international students

Deadline: February 22, 2011
Each applicant writes her own research proposal, which is reviewed by perspective mentors. Stipend: $600/week

Coe College
Deadline: March 1, 2011

Coe College offers REUs in physics and biology. Next summer's research projects can be viewed here. Stipend: $3,400, plus free on-campus housing and some travel funds

"This material science program focused on glass fabrication, characterization, and analysis. The program emphasized developing a physics community, and my adviser was amazingly supportive. The range of scientific equipment available is extraordinary."
–Haley Dell'Orso '11

Deadline: February 18, 2011 @ 5 p.m.

This is a chance to work in one of the most prestigious physics laboratories in the world. The 2011 program runs from May 23 to August 12. Internships are offered in physics, electrical/computer engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science. Here is fact sheet detailing logistical data (PDF).

Kansas State University
Deadline: Application review begins February 18, 2011 and continues until all places are filled.
Student participants will be involved with a variety of research projects, including attosecond physics, nanoparticle formation, atomic and molecular dynamics, nonlinear fiber optics, and neutrino oscillations. Stipend: $4,050, plus partial travel expenses, and room and board.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Deadline: January 16, 2011
The goal of this program is to engage undergraduate and graduate students in ongoing experimental, computational, and theoretical research in the fields of hydrodynamics, atomic physics, plasma physics, inertial confinement physics, astrophysics, radiation/particle transport, and computer science. Must be an US citizen with minimum GPA of 3.3. Stipend: "competitive."

Lehigh University

Deadline: March 7, 2011
For current sophomores and juniors, this program offers research experiences in material science, robotics and astrophysics, among others. This program is intended for students who plan to pursue graduate study in physics or related fields. Stipend: $5,100 plus housing.

"My research was optics-based (Lehigh has a huge optics graduate program), and primarily involved the use of a Raman spectrometer. The majority of my guidance was provided by a graduate student; however this varied by person."
–Haley Dell'Orso '11

LIGOOpen to international students

Deadline: Hard-copy applications must be received by February 16, 2011.
The LIGO Project is an NSP-supported endeavor to design, build and operate an astrophysical observatory for the detection and study of gravitational radiation. Projects may cover many areas of science and engineering related to the detection of gravitational radiation. Stipend: $6,000.

Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio Wesley offers a research program in scientific computation. Projects are available in astronomy, computer science, mathematics and physics. All projects will focus on one or more aspects of scientific computation: numerical, symbolic and data visualization. Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply. Click here to download the program flyer (PDF). Stipend: $4,400, plus housing, food allowance, and travel funds.

Princeton University – MIRTHE
Deadline: March 1, 2011
The Engineering Research Center for Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) develops knowledge, technologies, and engineering systems for mid-infrared spectroscopy and provides unprecedented optical and chemical trace gas sensing capabilities. Stipend: "competitive."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Deadline: February 15, 2011
RPI's REU program is in its 20th year. Areas of research include astro-, bio-, condensed matter, optical, and particle physics.  Each participant becomes a member of one of the research groups, which include faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students.  Stipend: $4,400 plus on-campus housing.

RISEOpen to students from USA, Canada, UK
RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) program offers internships in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. It offers opportunities for undergraduates to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for two to three during the summer. Interns assist doctoral students who act as their mentors.

Smith College
Can't stand the thought of leaving our beloved campus during the summer months? Have no fear! In its 48th year, the Smith SURF program offers the opportunity to work with a faculty member on their ongoing research. This program is open to students from any U.S. college or university.

Deadline: February 18, 2011

Undergraduate students will work with a faculty mentor in ongoing experimental or theoretical research programs in plasma and beam physics, solid state physics, astrophysics and high-energy physics. Stipend: $3,750, plus housing and travel costs.

"Westwood is well-connected to Santa Monica and Venice Beach via bus, no car necessary. The program make a long weekend trip to Sequoia National Park. Unique in that it has projects in both astronomy and physics (since they share the same department at UCLA)."
–Anna Boehle '11

University of Alabama
Deadline: March 11, 2011
Join UA's research on Fluid Mechanics with Analysis using Computations and Experiment (FM-ACE). It is strongly recommended that applicants have successfully completed a sophomore-level course in fluid mechanics. Research might include wind tunnel studies and supersonic flow visualization. Stipend: $5,000.

University of Arkansas Space & Planetary Science CenterSpace Center REUs open to international students
Deadline: February 15, 2011

In this ten-week program, students will carry out research in astrobiology, astrophysics, astronomy, mission design/engineering, planetary atmospheres, or planetary geology/geophysics. Students participate in weekly seminar program and several field trips, including a visit to NASA's Johnson Space Center. Stipend: $6,500 inc. housing, travel, and meal allowances.

"The program was really nice, very laid back and people were super friendly. They didn't have super high tech equipment, but I think it's a fun thing to do, especially if you are a first year looking for an REU, as I was last year."
–Genevieve de Mijolla '13

University of California, Berkeley
Deadline: February 1, 2011
This program offers student opportunities in astronomy, astrophysics, chemistry, geology, geophysics, mathematics, physics and statistics. Must be sophomore, junior, or non-graduating senior, with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an interest in graduate study. Click here for the application (PDF). Participants receive: round-trip airfare, room and board, stipend, graduate school preparation workshops, GRE prep course, UCB application fee waiver and more.

University of Chicago Department of Physics & Materials Research Center

Deadline: February 15, 2011
This program offers undergraduates (especially underrepresented minority groups and women) the opportunity to gain research experience in the laboratory of research group of a physics department faculty member. Possible research areas include condensed matter physics, elementary particle physics, space and cosmic ray physics, astronomy and astrophysics and experimental biophysics, among others.

University of Michigan Biophysics Program
Deadline: March 15, 2011
REU students have the opportunity to participate in a biophysics laboratory utilizing various techniques such as x-ray crystallography and NMR. Because biophysics is a very diverse field, the program also aims to provide and overview of current research and commonly-used experimental methods and techniques. Stipend: $5000 plus housing and travel expenses up to $500.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Deadline: March 1, 2011
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln offers summer research programs in applied mathematics, bioenergy systems, biomedical engineering, chemistry, nanomaterials and nanoscience, optics and laser physics, redox biology and biochemistry, and virology. Stipend: $4,000-$5,000 (varies by program).

University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Deadline: March 1, 2011
This laboratory focuses on experimental condensed matter physics and high pressure science. Applicants must have complete sophomore or junior year and one year of physics courses. Previous lab experience is helpful but not essential. Stipend: "Competitive" plus food, lodging provided.

University of Pennsylvania
Deadline: March 1, 2011
Each fellow will work n a materials research project in chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biophysics, materials science, or engineering.  Women, minorities, and students with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply. Stipend: $4,000.

University of Toledo
This programs provides students the opportunity to do research in astronomy/astrophysics, atomic physics, biological/health/medical physics, condensed matter physics, materials science and plasma physics.

"I did medical physics research. It was a good experience, although I discovered that I don't want to go into the field (better sooner than later!), and I know many students who really enjoyed doing astrophysics research at UT."
Catherine McGuinness '11

University of Washington
Deadline: February 28, 2011
Open to physics major who have completed the junior year, with possible exceptions for highly qualified younger students. Women and minority groups are especially encouraged to apply. This program accepts 14 students for projects on topics such as astrophysics, atomic physics, biophysics, nuclear and particle physics and physics education. Stipend: $4,280 plus most meals and travel reimbursement up to $500.

Wellesley College
Deadline: February 9, 2011
Work with a chemistry, geoscience, or physics department faculty member one of many potential projects, from preparing novel antituberculosis compounds to predicting the behavior of Bose-Einstein condensed atoms or utilizing MRI and NMR to investigate a mouse model of schizophrenia. Stipend: $6,000 (including $1500 for housing).