Student Opportunities

Research

The Villanova Physics Department enthusiastically supports student research, both during the summer and the academic year. In 2018, 13 students were on campus during the summer conducting research in the department. Below are some ways students can get involved in Physics research at Villanova and elsewhere—a great opportunity for students interested in graduate school or a career in a quantitative field.

Villanova Research Opportunities

Faculty Mentored Research

Students who are interested in research should reach out to faculty directly to discuss opportunities. Faculty can often support student research via external grants, or students can earn academic credit via a Supervised Study.

University Support

Villanova has several programs to support student research, including Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowships (VURFs), travel grants, and the First-Year Match Program.

Departmental Support

The Physics Department is able to offer additional support for students interested in working on campus in the summer. In recent years, the department has been able to help fund three to five students—in addition to Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows—for summer research.

External Research Opportunities

  • The National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program offers fellowships for students performing research away from their home university. Programs are available in Physics, Astronomy, Materials Science, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Economics, Ethics and Value Studies, Ocean and Earth Studies, and more.
  • Pathways to Science keeps a database of funded research programs. Many of these are REUs, but some institutions may have internal summer programs that are open to students from other colleges and universities.
  • NASA invites applications for internships every summer. These opportunities span the Agency’s Science and Exploration directorates.
  • The Society of Physics Students has a competitive multidisciplinary internship program based in the Washington, D.C., area. Interns in this program span fields as diverse as development of NASA technology to Physics Education Initiatives to Science Policy.

 

Life after Villanova  

Students who graduate with a Physics degree from Villanova have a strong background in the diverse fields of fundamental physics and excellent laboratory and data analysis skills. With experience in a highly quantitative field and plenty of practice communicating about science and data, students are ready for any modern career—be it graduate school and academia or industry and consulting. Good quantitative skills are valuable in many fields, and Physics students have pursued successful careers in physics, chemistry, engineering, biotech, computer science, medicine, technical writing, law and business.

The Villanova Physics faculty are happy to serve as a resource for students navigating the graduate school application process or exploring career possibilities.

Graduate School

For students interested in an academic career or a career in a quantitative field, graduate school may be an option—in some fields even outside academia, a PhD can be very useful for job hunting. U.S. News & World Report provides rankings for graduate schools in Physics, and sorts by specialty.

Other Careers

A Physics degree is not limited to one career path. The American Physical Society provides only a summary of career prospects including research and development, high school teaching, software engineering and private sector jobs such as market research.

Graduate school is a big life choice, some questions to consider are:

  • What do you want to study?
  • What kind of school do you want to go to?
  • Do you have geographical preferences or personal decisions to consider?

Applications are usually due in December and January. In order to apply, students need to write a research statement and a personal statement explaining their research area of interest and their interest in grad school. These are good to tailor for each school, so students should do their research. Applications also typically require three letters of recommendation—preferably from professors who know the student well and can testify to their intelligence, motivation and research abilities. Students should request these letters at least a month in advance.

Students will also have to take the GRE (both the General test and the Physics subject test). The subject test is about two hours with about 100 multiple choice questions on all areas of physics covered by an undergraduate curriculum. Students shouldn’t expect to have time to solve each problem quickly, so they will have to know how to find the answer quickly (try conservation of energy or momentum). Some graduate schools are starting to move away from the test, but it’s still important for students to do their best. Tests are offered every few months, and students should start looking at practice tests the summer before their senior year. Remember to try hard on the GRE Verbal test: communication skills DO correlate well with success.