Why Choose Physics?

Physics emphasizes critical thinking skills. Physics graduates often work in many other disciplines (engineering, medicine, law, etc.)  A degree in physics will make you more attractive to university recruiters and future employers.

Questions you should know the answers to before choosing a univeristy at which to study physics

1. What qualifications should I have to be able to successfully complete a physics major curriculum?

You must like mathematics and the sciences. You must enjoy doing difficult problems and investigating phenomena in the laboratory. It is desirable that your composite ACT score be 26, with a score of 27 or above in math and science. It is desirable that you have completed high school courses in physics and chemistry as well as a pre-calculus or calculus mathematics course.

2. Can I get credit for any of my academic work taken prior to entering your university?

There are four ways you can bring college credits to Bradley University when you enter. (1) Transfer credits from an accredited college or university. (2) Perform at a satisfactory level on the Advanced Placement Tests. See your high school counselor for advice on taking AP exams. (3) Perform at a satisfactory level on the College Level Equivalency Programs (CLEP) Examinations. For information on CLEP exams, contact the Office of Admissions by calling 309-677-1000 or 800-447-6460. (4) Take a proficiency examination administered by the department at Bradley offering the course for which you wish credit. Contact that department when you visit the Bradley campus.

3. Are there any scholarships available specifically for physics majors?

There are two scholarships designated for physics and engineering physics majors. The Ising Scholarship is awarded annually to junior and senior physics/engineering physics majors and is based on scholarship and need. Academically qualified sophomores majoring in physics/engineering physics are eligible for the Stutz Family Scholarship.

Many physics and engineering physics majors have high grade point averages in high school and therefore qualify for other scholarships. The Financial Assistance Office has scholarship information. You can access its website from the Bradley homepage or you can contact the office by phone at 309-677-3089 or by FAX at 309-677-2798.

4. What are the qualifications of the physics department faculty?

The eight faculty members who make up Bradley’s Department of Physics have the Ph.D. in physics and several years of teaching experience. All but two courses offered by the department are taught by these faculty members and the remaining two courses are taught by part-time faculty who are experts in their fields. The research interests of the faculty include solid state theory, materials science, medical physics, chemical physics, and particle theory. Although the faculty are involved in doing research, their principal responsibility is teaching undergraduate physics courses and laboratories.

5. Will I have the opportunity to take courses in computer science, engineering, and technology if I wish to pursue applied physics as a career goal?

The Bradley Physics Department offers students two degree options, Physics and Engineering Physics. The traditional physics degree major, based in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offers a great deal of flexibility in selecting elective courses. Because Bradley has electrical, mechanical, civil, manufacturing, and industrial engineering departments, courses in any of these departments may be selected to fulfill elective requirements. Computer science courses are also available through the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The student looking toward employment in industry or government immediately after completing the bachelor's degree may want to consider majoring in Engineering Physics. Engineering physics is a curriculum designed to educate engineers to work in areas where technology is changing rapidly or in areas where the boundaries of the traditional engineering disciplines overlap. The curriculum aims to develop sufficient depth in both engineering skills and science to produce students who are able to relate basic knowledge to practical problems in engineering. The engineering physicist is a person trained to exploit basic knowledge in any branch of science.

6. What are the opportunities for me as an undergraduate to become involved in research projects?

There are numerous opportunities for students to work with faculty members on research problems of mutual interest. In fact, each major is required to participate in a research or design project prior to graduation. NSF grants provide students with the opportunity to work closely with faculty members in the area of condensed matter physics and materials science. During their junior and senior year students can apply to work as summer interns in undergraduate research programs at other universities or national laboratories. Caterpillar, Inc. also provides opportunities for our majors to work as paid interns during the academic year and summers.

7. Are there campus honor societies and student groups in physics on your campus?

Bradley has had active chapters of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma on its campus since 1970. These two organizations provide opportunities for students to meet and share experiences. Sigma Pi Sigma is the honor society of the Society of Physics Students. To become a member of this society the student must have successfully completed a junior level physics course and maintained a high grade point in all freshman and sophomore courses.

8. Do physics majors have the opportunity to earn extra money and gain experience by assisting in the teaching laboratories and on research projects?

Once physics students have successfully completed their freshman year physics courses they are usually invited to assist faculty members in one of the introductory laboratories. This experience is valuable in a number of ways. Helping other students is a good way to learn more physics; the teaching experience prepares students for what is expected of them if they go on to graduate school with a teaching assistantship or go into teaching at the secondary level; and having a little extra income is always helpful in meeting expenses.

9. What graduate schools are your graduates attending?

Our graduates usually receive teaching or research assistantships. They have attended the following universities: University of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa State, University of Missouri, University of Utah, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Arkansas, University of Pittsburgh, University of Illinois, Michigan State University and University of Cincinnati.

10. If I do not choose to go to graduate school can I find employment with just the bachelor's degree?

Many of Bradley's majors in engineering physics chose to seek employment following graduation. Most were able to find challenging and rewarding positions that offer salaries comparable to engineers in other areas. Physics majors who received degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who sought employment in industry and government were also successful at such places as AT&T, TRW, Texas Instruments and Los Alamos National Research Laboratory.

11. Where do I get materials to apply for admission and financial assistance?

You will find information online at the Admissions webpage. To contact the Department of Physics, call 309-677-3010 or email the chairman, Dr. Kevin Kimberlin, slimedog@bradley.edu.