One employment option for Physics majors is graduate school. You can attend graduate school in Physics or any number of subfields in Physics. You can attend graduate school in other disciplines as well. Many of our graduates have gone on to study Physics in graduate school. Some of our recent grads have found themselves at excellent schools such as the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Washington University, University of Chicago and Michigan State University while others have gone on to study other topics such as Meteorology and Geology.
It is never too late to initiate planning for graduate school. Good grades are important to establish yourself as a promising candidate. Research with a faculty member is something that should be a part of your package. Presentations at a regional or national meeting are always a good thing and publication in a journal is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. Leadership roles, professional societies, honorary societies, and academic awards are all excellent goals to strive for during your undergraduate career.
You must apply to graduate schools. This process will be like to the process of applying to college from high school. Just as colleges and universities differ, not all graduate schools are the same. Some are large, some are small, and some have many areas of specialty while some have only one or two available. The quality of education that you receive in graduate school depends on the faculty there. Choosing your graduate advisor will be one of the most important decisions of your entire graduate career. There are many issues to take into consideration as you decide upon a graduate school. A website that might be able to help you decide is the grad school shopper (http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/ ). You can also get a hard copy of a Comparison of Graduate Programs in Physics and Astronomy from the SPS Advisor.
Most graduate schools offer Teaching Assistantships (TA) or Research Assistantships (RA) to students. The TA and RA pay for tuition and living expenses. Typically, graduate schools offer a TA or an RA only to students that are admitted. A TA or an RA comes with some responsibility, usually about 20 hours per week is expected. Teaching in a lab or problem session is common for a TA while an RA often begins the research that will eventually become their thesis topic.
A third type of funding for graduate school is the fellowship which usually comes with no teaching or research responsibilities. Some graduate schools offer fellowships to select students. There are national organizations that also offer fellowships that can be used anywhere. One needs to apply for fellowships and the following links will start you on that process.