Loyola University Chicago

Department of Physics

Undergraduate Experiences

What to expect as a Loyola Physics Student

The Department of Physics offers numerous opportunities through its academic programs, research experiences, and clubs for students to develop the skills, knowledge, and networking to pursue careers in the sciences, law, medicine, economics, and beyond. Our students have a broad range of interests, and the physics education is supportive for numerous career tracks. Many students pursue double majors in physics and other sciences, fine arts, and humanities. All physics majors are assigned a physics faculty member as an advisor. They will meet with this advisor at least once per semester to review academic progress, approve class schedules, and chat. Regardless of the physics program, the first two years are similar for all students to build a foundation for their upper-level courses. 

First-year students will complete the introductory physics sequence in the fall and spring semesters. In their first spring semester, students will also take the Freshman Projects course in which they will work in small teams with a faculty member on a semester-long research. This first-year course provides an excellent introduction to research for students. Students present their projects in a seminar at the end of the semester. 

Second-year students will take Modern Physics, which introduces quantum mechanics, relativity, and cosmology. The accompanying lab course allows students to explore these topics experimentally. The spring semester focuses on expanding their mathematical toolbox in Mathematical Methods and transitions students to more challenging theoretical approaches in Mechanics.

Juniors and seniors in the physics program will be largely focused on the upper-level courses specified by their degree programs. These courses will be mainly in Physics but can also include courses in Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science, and Mathematics. These two years are an important time for students to work on research projects if interested, pursue summer internships, and prepare for their next steps by visiting the LUC Career Center and writing applications for graduate schools.

The Department has numerous offerings to help student outside of the classroom. Cudahy Science Hall has a student lounge that provides a great place for students to relax, socialize, and study. There are three student clubs that organize different activities, including movie night, trivia night, lab tours, and speakers. The Department also hosts a biweekly seminar series each semester that gives students an opportunity to meet Loyola alums, graduate school recruiters, and researchers from different physics fields.

Students are strongly encouraged to begin talking with faculty during their first and second years to learn about research opportunities in the Physics Department and other departments at Loyola (Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science all regularly have physics students working in their labs). Loyola offers research fellowships to support student research, and several faculty members have National Science Foundation grants to fund student work in the summer months. All physics majors working with faculty on research projects are encouraged to participate in the Physics Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

Students can also gain experience teaching (and earn money) by working as a teaching assistant for the introductory physics labs. Here, students assist a faculty member in teaching lab sections. This is a great opportunity for students to develop communication skills and improve their understanding of the labs.

At the end of each spring semester, the Department recognizes the academic achievements of students at each level of their education at an awards luncheon.

At the conclusion of students' time at Loyola, the Department enjoys celebrating its graduates and their accomplishments.