Professional Skills Classes

The three pillars of the academy are teaching, research and service.  The department provides our graduate students with ample opportunities to professionally develop in these areas.  The department offers a yearly "Professional Skills for Physics and Astronomy" course (PHYS:5000) that is aimed to equip physics and astronomy graduate students with some of the professional skills that they will need going forward after their graduations with M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Topics include: CV (curriculum vitae) and a resume preparation, career prospects and options with a physics/astronomy degree, diversity in the physics/astronomy workforce, how to get involved with research at all levels (first year graduate students), skills employers are seeking, and applying for postdoctoral positions, various fellowships and jobs of all kinds. The course has guest presentations from a variety of physics and astronomy faculty, postdoctoral students  and others from campus and the professional community.

Annual Review of Career Goals

During the yearly review, the research or academic advisor works with the graduate students  to try to determine optimal pathways for their career aspirations and provide feedback on the students matriculation. One strategy is to use Individual Development Plans to clearly articulate career goals and maintain good communication channels between mentor and mentee.


Through teaching assistantships, and tutoring opportunities, graduate students are able to hone their teaching skills as well as improve their own understanding of physics and/or astronomy. The Graduate College also offers a Certificate in College Teaching for students who are considering careers in post-secondary education.

Outreach and Public Engagement

The Department offers a variety of opportunities for graduate students to be involved in outreach and public engagement. Some of these opportunities are The Hawk-Eyes on Science and Hawk-Eyes in Space programs, Clear Skies, and working with the Society of Physics Students.

Peer-Mentoring though GradMAP

The GradMAP peer mentoring program is designed to help early graduate students succeed in their transition to graduate school, navigate department resources, and provide a network of mentorship.  This in-house community provides an additional space to build the personal and professional relationships which make our department a collaborative, welcoming, and inclusive space.

Career Resources for UI Graduate Students

The Graduate College offers robust professional development services, including career guidance, national grants and fellowships support, and Iowa's Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). For more information on graduate student professional development services, visit the Professional Development page in the Graduate College.