May 25, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2022-2023 
Academic Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics, BS

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The program in physics is designed to prepare students for a variety of career paths including (but not limited to) physics and engineering graduate study, teaching, and direct entry into industry. Physics students gain practical experience through hands-on projects in classes, as well as a senior capstone research project or professional internship. Facilities are available for student research in nonlinear optics, condensed-matter physics, and nuclear physics. The majority of our graduates goes to graduate school in physics and related fields or take engineering-related positions in technical industries.


Program Length

Four years for a complete BS degree.  Two years for students transferring in with an AAOT degree.  Program length may vary depending upon the student’s course load and academic progress.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of a major in physics, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate conceptual understanding of fundamental physics principles
  • Communicate physics reasoning in oral and in written form
  • Solve physics problems using qualitative and quantitative reasoning including sophisticated mathematical techniques
  • Conduct independent research or work successfully in a technical position.

Baccalaureate Degree Core

Baccalaureate Degree Core Requirements   

Major Requirements

Total: 42 Credits

Traditional Physics Emphasis

Total: 20 Credits

Total Including Physics Core: 62 Credits

Environmental Science Emphasis

Total: 24 Credits

Total Including Physics Core: 66 Credits

Health Professions Emphasis

Total: 20 Credits

Total Including Physics Core: 62 Credits

Engineering Physics Emphasis

Total: 28 Credits

Required from Physics Core: 36**

Total: 64 Credits

* A minimum of 24 semester credits in engineering courses in an approved engineering program at another institution will be transferred back to Pacific University and counted towards the completion of the physics degree. Approved coursework taken at the engineering institution along with an approved public presentation will satisfy the requirements for the Senior Capstone. Of the courses used to satisfy the major, at least 28 CR must be at the 300 or 400 level, or equivalent, with at least 4 of these credits at the 400-level, or equivalent.

** PHY 470 , Advanced Analysis in Physics; and PHY 491  & PHY 493  , Capstone are omitted.

All physics majors are strongly encouraged to take MATH 311  (Differential Equations) and CS 150  (Introduction to Computer Science). Students also are encouraged to take other courses in Math and CS depending on their interests.

Students who are planning a career teaching physical science at the high school level may, with prior department approval, substitute either HUM 339 - History of Science  or PHIL 310 - Philosophy of Science  for four of the required upper-division elective credits. Students planning a teaching career also have the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience by serving as teaching assistants for lower division courses.

Because there are so many possible career paths for physics majors, we would like to offer some recommendations for upper -division electives (of which 8 credits are required for the major). Below are suggestions for electives that provide pathways for students to follow toward some common career goals. However, each student has unique interests; please discuss yours with a member of the department to develop a personalized selection of courses

Graduate School in Physical Science:

  • Relativity I & II
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Modern Topics in Physics
  • Electronics


  • Modern Topics in Physics
  • Electronics

Engineering/Applied Science/Health Science Careers:

  • Electronics
  • Engineering Mechanics: Statics I & II
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Teaching Physical Science in High School:

  • Relativity I & II
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • History of Science
  • Philosophy of Science

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