The contemporary study of the physical universe encompasses systems ranging from the microscopic — atoms, nuclei, and elementary particles, to the very large — planets, stars, and galaxies, and the Wellesley Physics department introduces students to the study of all that falls along that spectrum. Since physics covers such a broad band, students of physics develop concrete and transferable skills that can be applied in a number of different settings — academia, industry, research, government, nonprofits, and more.


General Career Advice


A lot can be accomplished in the physics career field depending on what area you specialize in as well as on whether you are exploring career paths with an undergraduate degree or a graduate/post-graduate degree. For instance, with a physics undergraduate degree, one can work as a research assistant or use transferable skills to transition to other areas such as business or law. A graduate or post-graduate degree can help you do more intensive work in areas of interest such as: astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, and more. Alternatively, one can also pursue a career in teaching or in the scientific publishing arena.

Regardless of your desired career path, each physics student should plan to pursue opportunities that provide valuable experiences and skills - such as campus involvement, research, internships, volunteering, and community engagement. Not only are these great experiences to add to your resume, but they can also help you determine what type of work environments, activities, projects, and “X factors” are a good fit for you.

For a snapshot of the post-Wellesley pursuits of physics alumnae, the Physics department maintains an excellent list of the careers and academic pursuits of their alumnae.


Pursuing a Graduate Degree in Physics

Graduate school is often part of the future career trajectory for physics majors. Some students choose to enter graduate school immediately after Wellesley, while others may choose to work for a few years before returning to school.

If you are considering pursuing a graduate degree in physics, there are plenty of great resources out there to help you start asking the right questions. Check out the Graduate School resource page in Handshake for a broad overview about graduate school, including the application timeline, asking for references, and financing your education. Similarly, the American Physics Society’s Choosing a Graduate School in Physics and Related Disciplines guide clearly outlines things to consider when applying to and choosing a graduate program.

When looking for physics graduate programs, you will need to do some in-depth research about those programs to gain a better understanding of their admissions requirements, the focus of their degree, research areas of the faculty, and the curriculum for the degree. While there are both objective and subjective factors that go into deciding what type of graduate degree or graduate program to pursue, some questions to start with include:

  • What are the research specialties/areas of the faculty?
  • What research projects do the current graduate student work on?
  • What are facilities, laboratories, libraries, etc. like?
  • What are the outcomes of the graduates — academia, research, industry, government, or other professional areas?
  • What is the quality of life for a Master’s or PhD student?

If you are looking for an in-person consultation about graduate school, a good place to start would be by meeting with Frances Adjorlolo ’08, who is the Career Community Advisor for Technology, Engineering, & Physical Sciences. Additionally, you should plan to speak with the faculty in the chemistry department, as your faculty (especially your advisor) will be an essential resource in your graduate school application process.


Career Resources and Professional Organizations

Organizations on Campus

  • Society of Physics Students

Physics Career Resources

Professional Organizations

Updated September 4, 2017
If you have additional resources, please feel free to send them to Frances Adjorlolo at