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School of Science

Course VIII -- Physics

“One of the best things about the Physics Department is that everyone truly loves what they do,” said Virginia Esau, Physics Course Administrator.

The Physics department at MIT is world renowned for both its undergraduate and graduate education. In a recent report, the Physics PhD program at MIT was ranked second in the nation by US News and World Report.

A unique feature of MIT’s physics program is that renowned professors will often teach introductory level courses. For example, famed cosmologist Alan H. Guth ’68 taught 8.01, the introductory freshman physics course.

Physics majors have a wide variety of job opportunities available after graduation. Some graduates pursue openings available in research laboratories, while others choose to apply their extensive mathematical background to financial analyst positions.

The undergraduate curriculum in physics also offers excellent preparation for graduate work in a variety of different professional fields such as medicine, law, and management. “A physics major offers such strong analytical and reasoning skills that employers in virtually any line of work will hire someone with a physics degree,” said Esau.

Approximately 70 percent of physics majors continue their education after graduation.

A physics major at MIT requires 138 units to be completed beyond the graduate institute requirements.

A number of the required courses are offered during IAP. These include 8.033, Introduction to Special Relativity; 8.21, Classical Mechanics II; and 8.122, Advanced Project Laboratory.

Opportunities and funding abound for UROPs within the physics department at MIT.

“UROPs are definitely available for freshmen and sophomores. In fact, the physics department encourages students to get involved early so that they can work on projects for three years or more,” said Esau.

Funding for UROPs comes from a variety of different sources including the UROP office, the physics department, the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, and the Orloff Fund, a special endowment fund for physics UROP research.

The tutoring program within the physics department has recently undergone a number of changes. Many more graduate students have been hired as tutors and new tutoring rooms have been added this year to accommodate the greater influx of students.

Tutoring is required for students in freshman introductory physics courses. However, higher level tutoring is usually arranged on an individual basis between students and professors.

--By Kristen Landino