Physics 4601 – Senior Seminar I

Spring 2024 F 2:00-2:50 PM
Howey L4

Instructor: JC Gumbart
Office: Howey W202
Phone: 404-385-0797
Office Hours (by appointment)


In this course, you will learn a number of skills in preparation for life post-degree, like how to wake up before noon and which laundry detergent to use. More importantly though, we will discuss how to select graduate schools, what careers are available (with just a BS degree or with a PhD), and how to apply to any and all of them. A portion of the course will also be spent on developing a proposal suitable for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Learning Goals for the Course

  • learn how to write a résumé (or CV) and apply to jobs
  • prepare for the GRE Physics test
  • choose graduate schools to which to apply
  • learn how to write a proposal


Attendance is mandatory. If you will miss a week for any reason, please let me know why, in advance. Attendance will make up HALF of your grade. In-person attendance is expected, and a sign-in sheet will be present at the front of the room before each class.


Grading will be based primarily on attendance (50%) as well as a few assignments. These will include

  • write a résumé (15%)
  • write a cover letter for a job OR write a personal statement for graduate school (15%)
  • write a research proposal suitable for the NSF graduate fellowship (two pages, including references, in Latex; worth 20%)

See the right-hand side for due dates for each of these.


Attending seminars and colloquia is an important part of being a scientist and a physicist in particular. There are a few ways to find out seminars on campus.

  • Read your department emails (haha!)
  • Check dept. webpages; Physics, Biosciences, IBB, etc.
  • sign up for GT Physics’ slack and join the events channel: slack


Jan. 12: guest lecture on résumés additional materials
Jan. 19: more tips on résumés and the career fair; résumé cross-reading
Jan. 26: summer internships
Feb. 2: “alternative” careers (outside of academia) APS careers talk
Feb. 9: guest talk from GT BS Physics alumna
Feb. 16: applying to grad schools APS webinar
Feb. 23: personal statements (statement tips)
Mar. 1: Q&A with grad students
Mar. 8: personal statement/cover letter cross-reading
Mar. 15: no class (spring break comes early!)  
Mar. 22: spring break
Mar. 29: NSF GRFP – (see “Fellowship Info” on the right for more) (class slides)
Apr. 5: GRE prep (class slides)
Apr. 12: scientific papers and publishing (class slides, paper box)
Apr. 19: Proposal cross reading