B.A. or B.S. in Physics

The Physics major provides a rigorous grounding in fundamental physics, fosters critical thinking and creative problem solving, and provides broad practical training in science and technology. It is designed to prepare you for advanced study in physics, engineering or other technical disciplines, for employment in industry, or for teaching at the secondary level. Physics graduates are in high demand in any area where analytical thinking and problem solving are important, and our students have also gone on to careers in computer programming, business, finance, law, and medicine.

All physics majors complete a core of courses covering the foundations of the discipline: classical mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics. Electives allow more specialized areas to be explored in greater detail, for example condensed matter physics, particle physics, optics, and general relativity. In the advanced and electronics laboratories, you have access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, and gain experience in experimental design and data analysis.

A distinctive feature of our program is the integration of numerical and computational methods for solving physical problems throughout the entire physics curriculum. Students get experience in programming, numerical analysis, and data visualization. These skills are vital for real-world scientists and engineers.

You are also encouraged to participate in research with a faculty member, which, depending on interests, may start as early as the freshman year. Such projects take you far beyond normal classroom and textbook work, engaging your curiosity, creativity, and collaboration. The value of these experiences, both for deepening understanding and for enhancing self-confidence and intellectual maturity, are tremendous.

Example Course Schedule for BA Physics

Based on the 2018-2019 catalog

Note: most courses are offered every other year, so schedules will change depending on whether you start in an even or an odd year.

When starting in Fall of an Even year

Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
First FYS – 3 hrs
MATH 1700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 1500 – 3 hrs
MATH 1800 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1600 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
Sophomore INST 2000 – 3 hrs
MATH 2700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3000 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 4000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Junior INST 2400 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3100 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2600 – 3 hrs
PHYS 2500 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Senior INST 2800 – 3 hrs
SYE – (2-3) hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15

When starting in Fall of an Odd year

Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
First FYS – 3 hrs
MATH 1700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 1500 – 3 hrs
MATH 1800 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
Sophomore INST 2000 – 3 hrs
MATH 2700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3100 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 2500 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Junior INST 2400 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2600 – 3 hrs
PHYS 4000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Senior INST 2800 – 3 hrs
SYE – (2-3) hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15

Total number of hours should equal 120

Notes while creating plans:

  1. INST classes are placeholders. They can be moved around within the 4 years. We just ask that
    students are paced at one INST per term (FYS is considered an INST Class). We know some majors
    might have a term with the need for 2 (Student Teaching, internships, etc) and that is okay on a
    limited basis. Also, INST 3000 can only be taken after 4 of the 5 thread classes are complete.
  2. Skills courses are also placeholders and can be moved (or noted if a major requirement also fulfills a
    skills course).
  3. The number of elective course in the grid should reflect how many credit hours are needed to reach
    120 once all major and general education courses have been completed.

Example Course Schedule for BS Physics

Based on the 2018-2019 catalog

Note: most courses are offered every other year, so schedules will change depending on whether you start in an even or an odd year.

When starting in Fall of an Even year:

Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
First FYS – 3 hrs
MATH 1700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 1500 – 3 hrs
MATH 1800 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1600 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
Sophomore INST 2000 – 3 hrs
MATH 2700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3000 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3050 – 3 hrs
PHYS 4000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Junior INST 2400 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3100 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 4050 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2600 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3150 – 3 hrs
PHYS 2500 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Senior INST 2800 – 3 hrs
SYE – (2-3) hrs
PHYS 3500 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15

When starting in Fall of an Odd year:

Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
First FYS – 3 hrs
MATH 1700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 1500 – 3 hrs
MATH 1800 – 4 hrs
PHYS 1500 – 5 hrs
Elective – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
Sophomore INST 2000 – 3 hrs
MATH 2700 – 4 hrs
PHYS 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3100 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2200 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3150 – 3 hrs
PHYS 2500 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
Junior INST 2400 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3500 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 2600 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3050 – 3 hrs
PHYS 4000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15
Senior INST 2800 – 3 hrs
SYE – (2-3) hrs
PHYS 4050 – 3 hrs
PHYS 3200 – 3 hrs
Total Hours: 15
INST 3000 – 3 hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
PHYS Elective? – (3) hrs
Total Hours: 15

Total number of hours should equal 120

Notes while creating plans:

  1. INST classes are placeholders. They can be moved around within the 4 years. We just ask that
    students are paced at one INST per term (FYS is considered an INST Class). We know some majors
    might have a term with the need for 2 (Student Teaching, internships, etc) and that is okay on a
    limited basis. Also, INST 3000 can only be taken after 4 of the 5 thread classes are complete.
  2. Skills courses are also placeholders and can be moved (or noted if a major requirement also fulfills a
    skills course).
  3. The number of elective course in the grid should reflect how many credit hours are needed to reach
    120 once all major and general education courses have been completed.
Student Learning Outcomes University Learning Goals (KMERI*)
I. Understand core physics concepts and principles.
I. (a) Understand principles of classical mechanics.
Knowledgeable
I. (b) Understand principles of electrodynamics (under I. Understand core physics concepts and principles.) Knowledgeable
I. Understand core physics concepts and principles. (c) Understand principles of quantum mechanics Knowledgeable
I. (d) Understand principles of statistical and thermal physics (under I. Understand core physics concepts and principles.) Knowledgeable
I. (e) Understand principles of at least one major subfield of physics (under I. Understand core physics concepts and principles.) Engaged
II. Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills: (a) Be able to identify the essential aspects of a problem and formulate a strategy for its solution using mathematical, graphical, and conceptual representations as appropriate Multi-literate
II. Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills: (b) Be able to apply appropriate techniques (mathematical, computational) to solve a problem Multi-literate
II. Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills (c) Be able to critically evaluate a solution for correctness, for example using estimation, examination of limiting cases, and dimensional analysis. Multi-literate
III. Develop laboratory experience and skills (a) Given guidance and appropriate equipment, be able to collaboratively design and carry out an experiment to test a hypothesis or measure a physical constant. Inquisitive
III. Develop laboratory experience and skills (b) Be able to analyze experimental data, including identifying sources of statistical and systematic error and quantifying uncertainty. Responsible
III. Develop laboratory experience and skills (c) Be familiar with standard lab equipment. Knowledgeable
IV. Develop communication skills (a) Be able to express in writing their understanding of physical principles, the results of experiments, and their analysis of physical problems Multi-literate
IV. Develop communication skills (b) Be able to express orally their understanding of physical principles, the results of experiments, and their analysis of physical problems Multi-literate

*NOTE: KMERI refers to Otterbein's learning goals. It stands for KnowledgeableMulti-literateEngagedResponsible, and Inquisitive. To learn more about KMERI, visit our University Learning Goals page.

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