The opportunity to work directly with faculty on research is one of the strengths of our program, and it’s possible to get involved as early as Freshman year. It is a great way to see how new discoveries are made, and some students even end up with their work published in scientific journals. The skills you gain doing research will be of great benefit for future careers in science, engineering, and medicine, and even in areas such as finance and consulting.
To participate in research projects in the Department of Physics, you will need certain physics, math or computer skills. Some of these you will acquire as you progress through your coursework, but for others, you will simply need enthusiasm about figuring out how Nature works.
How to get started
First you need to figure out what kind of research is interesting to you and which faculty members have opportunities available. To get started on that, take a look at our Department of Physics Research page and explore what our faculty members study. You can view a list of recent senior research projects. Each Spring semester, we also hold information sessions at which some of the faculty members describe research opportunities in their groups.
Once you have an idea of what type of research you might want to do, just stop by our offices or send us email. Even if we haven’t advertised an opportunity, we might have one available. We are a friendly department, and if one of us doesn’t have a spot available for you, we might be able to point you to someone else who would.
The time commitment for research can vary quite a bit. It’s possible to get involved informally with only a few hours per week. When you’re ready for greater involvement, you can get course credit through our Independent Research courses. Over the summer, we also offer opportunities to get paid for doing research full-time.
Independent Research courses (PHYS 300-314)
Juniors and Seniors may take up to four semesters of Independent Research for course credit. Independent Research requires a time commitment of at least nine hours per week and you will be rewarded with an opportunity to take a research project and really make it your own. This extra time will allow you to delve deeply into the physics of your research in a significant manner. By the end of your first semester, you will likely start thinking of some of your own ideas for the next steps in your project. With the progression of each semester, you will gain more experience, skills, and independence, and you might publish your work in a highly-regarded scientific journal.
For each semester of Independent Research, you will also be learning how to present your research to other scientists. The formal requirements for the written and oral presentations are described on our Physics 3XX webpage. If you complete at least two semesters of Independent Research, you will also be considered for Honors in Physics at the end of your Senior year.
Summer research at Georgetown and beyond
We strongly encourage you to start research as early as the summer after your first year at Georgetown. You can stay at Georgetown and work in one of our research groups or you can take advantage of the many summer programs at other universities and research labs across the country. Either way, participating in summer research is a great chance to get some experience and maybe even make a new discovery.
- GUROP: Through the Georgetown University Research Opportunities Program you can apply for funding for a summer of research at Georgetown.
- Department of Physics Hichwa Summer Research Fellowship
- Beyond Georgetown: Hundreds of universities and labs across the country (and a few outside the country) run summer programs for undergraduates. Click on this link for a list of the current research opportunities and their deadlines.