B.A. 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 a variety of 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, 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.

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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