The Physics Department encourages all majors to become involved with research before they graduate. The usual way to become associated with a research group is by directly contacting faculty members. Descriptions of physics faculty research interests can be found on the faculty pages.
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
Summer programs called “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) are excellent paid research opportunities for undergraduate students organized on university campuses all over US. Information on these programs is widely available on the web. The main REU site at NSF is the official place to start your search. The national Society for Physics Students maintains an extensive list of internships, as well as the Department of Energy.
Teaching Experience for Undergraduates
For students considering teaching as a career, the department offers multiple opportunities to explore this profession. Paid teaching positions called “learning assistantships” are available to work in physics classrooms in Columbia Public Schools or in introductory physics courses at MU. Contact Dr. Karen King, the director of Tomorrow’s Outstanding Physics Teacher (TOP Teacher). Students interested in teaching positions (Teaching Assistant) for the introductory physics courses (College or University Physics) should contact either the Director of Graduate Studies or the Associate Chair.
Research Internships at national labs
The Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) provides an opportunity for students to participate in research at a Department of Navy (DoN) laboratory during the summer.
The Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program has been established by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing technical degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.
Invite your professor to lunch!
A very important part of the college experience is getting to know your professors. The “Invite your professor to lunch” program promotes student and faculty interaction outside the classroom. Physics majors can invite their professor to breakfast or lunch at any of the dining centers on campus. The department covers the cost of the students’ and faculty member’s meal. Three such events will be approved per semester: two for undergraduate students, and one for graduate students. Requests will be approved on a “first come, first served” basis. If there are numerous requests, more may be approved. How does “Invite your professor to lunch” work?
1) Form a group of 3-4 undergraduate/graduate physics majors and invite a professor to lunch by asking him/her before or after class; calling his/her office; sending him/her an e-mail.
2) Fill out this Invite your professor to lunch! form either electronically or by hand and turn it in to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Silvia Bompadre. Once the form is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email and instructions on how to proceed.
3) Take your professor to lunch! Have a great conversation with your professor. Consider talking about a topic discussed in class; an upcoming assignment; how the professor’s academic career developed; why the professor came to MU; what the professor enjoys about teaching; your career goals and aspirations; hobbies, sports, fine arts, or anything else. Get to know your professors on a personal basis too!
5) Give us your feedback! Send an e-mail and tell us more about your experience.
6) Encourage your friends, classmates, and others to experience “Invite your professor to lunch”!
Every spring the Physics Department hosts an Open House. If you are interested in helping with the event, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies. For more information and to see pictures from previous events, see the Open House webpage. Physics Club, the undergraduate physics majors association, is also involved in outreach events. Please feel free to contact them if you are interested in participating.
Career Options and Information
A Physics degree helps prepare you to do almost anything. It opens up for you an incredible range of careers that benefit from the quantitative and analytical skills of physics, and from an understanding of the fundamentals behind science and technology that a physics degree provides.
What can you do with a degree in Physics?
The national SPS web site has a comprehensive discussions of career options for physicists.
Occupational Outlook Handbook maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Physics in Careers
Careers using Physics
What are physics bachelors doing five years after earning their degrees?
What technical skills do physics bachelors use in their jobs?
What communication and people skills do physics bachelors use in their jobs?
What are the typical starting salaries for physics bachelors?
Big Bucks for Physicists
Who is hiring Physics Bachelors?
Alternate careers to physics (maintained by Caltech)
Society and Institution Web Pages
American Institute of Physics
Physics Careers Network (Physics Today)
Institute of Physics in Wales
Society of Physics Students
Interviews with Physicists
NPR story on physics jobs
Sloan Career Cornerstone Center