Physics - FAQ's

What skills do I need to succeed?

Come to CMU armed with a natural curiosity as to “how things work,” along with a love of science. Students should possess analytical and mathematical skills; if you have an interest in building and designing things, and in “how things work,” you may be ideally suited to the physics major. Strong computer and communication abilities, and a willingness to work with others in a “team approach” to problem solving, will suit you well, too.


What will I learn?

Students majoring in physics will develop analytic and mathematical problem solving skills as well as learn how to work with a variety of experimental tools. Further, the student will learn how to identify research projects and how to develop, conduct, and present these projects.

At the upper division, students have an opportunity to work one on one with faculty in both courses and in research areas. Faculty will help the student develop career choices and will provide assistance to the student to help them realize their career goals upon graduation.


What opportunities are there for internships or other hands-on learning experiences?

"Hands-on learning" is an essential component of the physics major at CMU. Many students participate in the work-study financial aid program and assist faculty with laboratories and courses. Some students assist faculty during public open hours at CMU’s heralded Morrison Observatory, which dates back to 1875. Students also support activities involving area middle school and high school students.

Internships with regional laboratories and businesses are available, including summer research opportunities. Qualified students may find themselves involved in research at government laboratories or universities, often involving a stipend (pay), scholarship, and/or living and travel expenses.


What are some possible entry-level careers with a degree in this field?

Many exciting career opportunities await physics graduates. Work in a wide variety of technical areas…pursue a graduate degree... teach at the middle or high school level (where demand far exceeds the supply of teachers, a matter of growing concern on a national scale). Aerospace, nanotechnology, astronomy, materials science, biotechnology, alternative energy are just some of the exciting fields available to physics majors. Graduate studies cut across many fields of science, and students often find themselves recipients of generous stipends to work as research or teaching assistants.

Want more information? Check out the Major Resources provided by the Career Development Center.