Career Options

Careers for Physics Majors

Today’s world is complex and often confounding, but physics graduates are well prepared to enter this world. They have begun to understand the laws that govern the way things work and the physical principles behind these laws. Products and technology change constantly, but physical principles do not.

Training in physics mixes observation, imagination, calculation, and reasoning with finely tuned oral and written communication skills. The resulting expertise provides an invaluable foundation not only for graduate school, but for careers in a wide variety of fields, including medicine, music, engineering, education, law, business, public administration, and more.

  • Because it provides the basic underpinning for all of the sciences, physics is one of the most versatile of all undergraduate majors.
  • Physics majors acquire knowledge and discipline that are applicable to many fields of employment, including technical positions.
  • Coursework, lab work, and an integrated program of colloquia offer tremendous preparation for both careers and graduate work.

The most important thing is not any one particular piece, but finding enough pieces and enough connections between them to recognize the whole picture.
Christiane Nusslein-Volhard

Post-Gettysburg Employment:

Physics graduates are prepared to fit easily into any one of a number of technical jobs. The broad nature of the subject leads to such acquired skills as the ability to solve experimental and mathematical problems; the ability to use a wide range of general-purpose scientific instruments; and the ability to carry out a complicated set of instructions requiring organizational, research, reasoning, and communication skills.

Past physics majors have successfully entered such diverse fields as:

  • Astronomy
  • Biomechanics
  • Business
  • Computer science/programming
  • Economics
  • Electrical and mechanical engineering
  • Energy and environmental research
  • General and technical sales
  • Geophysics
  • Insurance
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Medical technology
  • Medicine
  • Metallurgy
  • Meteorology
  • Molecular biology
  • Ocean and environmental engineering
  • Pollution control
  • Psychology
  • Publishing
  • Secondary education
  • Small business
  • Systems analysis
  • Telecommunications
  • Theology
  • The many sub fields of physics

Explore Career Options

Physics majors have many avenues for exploring potential careers:

  • Visit Gettysburg College’s Center for Career Engagement for information on job preparation, as well as long-range career planning and in job placement.
  • Visit the packed-with-information websites of the American Institute of Physics, including its listing of companies that are hiring physics majors. Physics Today Jobs delivers a diverse array of competitive opportunities upon graduation, and also offers free physics-specific career resources including career advice, webinars and document templates.
  • Take every opportunity to talk with faculty, alumni, parents, and friends about potential career paths/jobs.
  • Seek a technically-oriented summer job/internship. Check the Physics Department’s Summer Research Opportunities web page, as well as your college email for announcements that are forwarded on to physics majors and faculty as soon as they're received, and watch the bulletin boards for announcements.

Graduate Studies

The study of physics prepares students for graduate work in a variety of fields. Students considering graduate school are urged to meet with a faculty adviser as soon as possible.

Gettysburg graduates have undertaken graduates studies in such fields as:

  • Astronomy
  • Astrophysics
  • Biophysics
  • Business
  • Education
  • Electrical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Geophysics
  • Law
  • Materials science
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Meteorology
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Ocean engineering
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Systems Engineering
  • Theology

Among the graduate schools attended by recent Gettysburg College alumni are:

  • American University
  • Brown University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • George Washington University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kansas State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rutgers University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of California/San Diego
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Florida
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • University of West Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Wesleyan University Graduate Studies in Planetary Science
  • Wharton School of Business