Physics (B.S.)

Why Study Physics at NIU?

Do you want to change the world by helping to explain it? That’s what physicists do. They investigate and attempt to explain the physical universe. From the small scale study of electrons, protons, neutrinos and quarks, to the large scale study of small and large collections of atoms, the work of physicists has changed our world. It has led to advances in technology – such as transistors, lasers and microwaves – and given us tools to see aspects of the world which are invisible to our ordinary senses.

You’ll learn the physical laws which explain the workings of the universe and which are technology’s foundation. You’ll learn to apply these laws in different situations to solve physics problems, and get training in analytical skills and laboratory methods along the way. Your problem-solving skills will be especially attractive to employers in diverse areas from financial modeling to product development.

There are three emphases within our major:

  • Professional physics
  • Secondary school teaching
  • Applied physics

Careers with a Physics Degree

Physicists find rewarding careers in industries such as:

  • Aerospace
  • Aircraft manufacturing
  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Computer software and hardware manufacturing
  • Electronics
  • Medical schools
  • Petroleum
  • Research
  • Education
  • Military
  • Government

Physics Faculty

With an average class size for junior and senior courses being fewer than 15, there are plenty of opportunities for you to interact with our world-class research faculty. Their research interests include:

  • Higgs boson physics
  • Formation of nanostructures by electron beam methods
  • Quark and gluon jet production
  • Randomness in quantum fluids
  • Nuclear resonance scattering
  • Supersymmetry
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Dynamics of disordered elastic systems

Hands-on Learning Opportunities

You’ll have several undergraduate research opportunities, some as paid internships. There are special programs for undergrads at Argonne and Fermilab, both of which are located within an hour’s drive of our campus. You can pursue your own research projects for credit, as well as participate in myriad projects faculty are leading. We are also home to an active chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

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