Working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory | Glassdoor

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Overview

Laurel, MD
5001 to 10000 employees
Nonprofit Organization
Aerospace & Defense
$1 to $2 billion (USD) per year

Working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a university-affiliated research center (UARC). APL solves complex research, engineering, and analytical problems that present critical challenges to our nation.

Mission: APL provides critical contributions to critical challenges. Our scientists, engineers, and analysts serve as trusted advisors and technical experts to the government, ensuring the reliability of complex technologies that safeguard our nation’s security and advance the ... Read more

Company Updates

  • Our engineers and researchers are always looking for opportunities to apply their expertise to new, complex challenges. In his latest paper, APL's Dr. Paul Stockton offers his perspective on defending our nation's electric grid.

    Press Release

    The study also recommends how power companies and government agencies can craft emergency orders to sustain electric service to vital military bases, regional hospitals, and other critical facilities that an adversary may seek to cripple.

  • Parker Solar Probe--designed, built and managed by APL--launched last week. The historic mission is on its way to our Sun's blazing solar atmosphere, making its closest approach at 3.8 million miles. Parker will reach speeds of roughly 430,000 miles per hour, setting the record for the fastest-moving object made by humanity.

    Parker Solar Probe

    Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Video

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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory – Why Work For Us?

Who we are

The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a not-for-profit center for engineering and research and development. APL is a division of one of the world's premier research universities, Johns Hopkins University. As a University Affiliated Research Center, we serve as a liaison between government and industry—a trusted, impartial, and noncompetitive technical agent.  

What we do

APL solves complex research, engineering, and analytical problems that present critical challenges to our nation. That's how we decide what work we will pursue, and it’s how we've chosen to benchmark our success. APL works on more than 600 programs serving the Navy, Air Force, Army, NASA, and numerous other government agencies. The expertise we bring includes highly qualified and technically diverse teams with hands-on operational knowledge of the military and security environments. 

APL promotes work-life balance, health and financial peace of mind, and life-long learning with our generous package of employee benefits. 

Flexibility to fit your schedule

Our staff members enjoy flexible working hours and, when possible, remote work. Paid leave is offered for major holidays, up to seven sick days, and one personal day during the year. Paid leave is also available for military leave, jury duty, continuing education, and bereavement. Paid vacation and annual carryover is based on years of employment and staff level.

Education assistance for you and your family

APL encourages staff members to further their education. Our Part-Time Study Program pays tuition and fees for approved courses, through either prepayment or reimbursement, up to 24 credit hours per year. Dependent children of staff members (with at least 5 years of service at APL) are eligible to apply for college tuition scholarship grants up to $10,500 per academic year. 

The importance of a secure future

APL contributes up to 10.5% of staff members' pay to their retirement plans. This includes an APL contribution equal to 2.5% of pay, plus matching contributions of $2 for every $1 of staff member contributions, up to a maximum APL contribution of 8% of pay. Staff members become eligible for APL's contriubtions after one year of employment and are immediately 100% vested.

APL has you covered

APL offers medical, vision, prescription, and dental insurance to staff members and their families, including same-sex domestic partners. Staff members also enjoy life insurance, legal services, and disability benefit options.

For more information about APL's benefits, click here

College internships at APL

Our summer internship program offers students practical work experience and an introduction to APL. Students spend the summer working with APL scientists and engineers, conducting research, developing leadership skills, and growing professionally.

This summer, more than 350 interns from 100+ colleges interned at APL. These interns ranged from freshmen to Ph.D. level, worked on projects across APL, and had the opportunity to network throughout the summer at seminars, social events, and workshops.

Typical internship assignments may include:

  • Software Design and Development
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Testing and Evaluation
  • Hardware Design
  • Data/Systems Design
  • Scientific Research

Ready to apply? Click here

Commitment to STEM

We are committed to inspiring, engaging and preparing the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Through APL’s STEM programs, students from elementary to high school are able to build interest, develop skills, and explore real-world applications of what they are learning.

APL's staff members are passionate about their work, and many seek opportunities to engage their technical interests beyond APL’s missions. With STEM programs that reach over 3,000 students annually, our staff members are able to exercise their passions and expertise, while inspiring students and promoting the future of STEM.

STEM outreach and volunteer opportunities include…

  • Judging a science fair or competition. Regional and statewide STEM competitions rely on the technical expertise and objectivity APL’s staff members bring as judges. Our staff members have opportunities to evaluate student projects, review technical papers, and judge competitions.
  • Volunteering at a STEM event. Our MESA Program, which advocates for STEM education, equity, and access in Maryland, is involved with numerous events and programs for students grades 3-12. APL staff members can volunteer as event facilitators, team leaders, and logistics assistants.
  • Teaching a course. APL’s STEM Academy supports students in middle and high school by building skills that will help them be successful in their STEM pursuits. Our staff members help teach STEM Academy courses in MATLAB, Python, and Critical Thinking.
  • Mentoring a high school student. Each year, our ASPIRE High School Internship Program brings more than 200 high school juniors and seniors to APL, providing opportunities to work with APL staff mentors on technical projects.  
  • Preparing a student for college. APL’s College Prep Program works to help students who do not have anyone in their lives to mentor them through the college application process. APL staff members work with students on essay writing, SAT Prep and how to succeed once they get to college.

APL takes pride in our commitment to STEM and in our staff members’ dedication to making a difference in the lives of students. Want to learn more about APL’s STEM programs? Click here.

It’s going to take all of us to create the unimaginable

At APL, we are cultivating an environment where brilliant minds of all backgrounds come together to build on each other’s ideas and collaborate as inclusive teams. 
Fundamental to the success of our envisioned future is an environment that encourages creativity, is rich in diversity of thought, and promotes inclusion of new ideas. This kind of environment can only exist if APL is a place where race, gender, religion, or other such characteristics do not define talent, and where our staff are distinguished by their diversity.
One of the ways we embrace diversity and cultivate an inclusive environment is through our culture of employee clubs and resource groups. From the Asian American Heritage Club to our Allies in the Workplace group, APL's self-organizing clubs welcome and encourage participation by all staff members. Learn more about our clubs and resource groups here

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Reviews

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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
Dr. Ralph Semmel
188 Ratings
  • Featured Review

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    "Amazing work in an environment that provides world-class work/life balance"

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    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
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    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time


    - The pay is good, particularly when you consider it isr a Not-for-Profit
     - The benefits are amazing. Fantastic medical, dental, etc. - if you have a family it might be one of the best. Retirement matching is unheard of. I may not get rich on annual salary but can retire a millionaire based on the match!
     - World class people in a diverse array of fields. You'd be hard pressed to find this many amazingly talented and smart people in one place working on a wide array of amazing things.
     - Service to the nation. APL provides "Critical contributions to critical challenges facing the nation." That alone motivates 99% of the work force to come in every day ready to rock and roll.
     - Flexibility - you can, to a reasonable degree, design your schedule. You can also move around the organization to different departments, technical areas, in/out of line mgmt, etc. with relative ease and really no negative impact (compared to other places I've worked).


    - If you want to be compensated highly, with bonuses being often, this is not the place.
     - While APL is a trusted agent of the government we are also at the whim of things like Government Shutdowns, potential downturn in defense spending, etc.
     - The freedom and flexibility of the org, the very matrix structure of teams, can make it a challenge at times. Just as you can find new work you can also roll off of work you don't want to really do (provided you find another option) with very little stigma or downside.

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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Photos

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: One of our many collaboration spaces, Central Spark
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: Advanced Cyber Analytics LIVE Lab
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: GSEL Environmental Testing
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: Winners of APL's innovation grant challenge
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: Biomechanics & Injury Mitigation Systems Lab
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory photo of: Broadcast Lab
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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Interviews



Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview




  1. Featured Interview


    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview


    I applied online. I interviewed at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in February 2017.


    Software Engineer, Associate Professional Staff I.

    Applied online, and received an on-site interview invitation a month or two later.

    APL is divided into sectors, and you'll interview with the sectors that are interested in you. Depending on the sector, group (subset of sector), and individuals you interview with, your experience will vary.

    Relaxed atmosphere, most of the technical portion was formatted as a casual discussion.

    I had competing offers that were soon to expire, so they kindly accelerated my process. Took ~2 weeks to get an offer.

    Interview Questions

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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Awards & Accolades

  • Top Supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Career Communications Group, 2017
  • The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space, Fast Company, 2018
  • The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare, Fast Company Magazine, 2016
  • Laureate Award for Space Exploration, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 2016
  • Bicycle Friendly Business – Bronze Designation, The League of American Bicyclists, 2014
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