Stetson University

College of Arts and Sciences

Careers and the Selection of Electives in Physics

 

Physics majors are only required to take one elective course in the Physics Department; it must have a course number of 250 or higher and it must have a laboratory.  It is generally recommended that physics majors fill out their schedules with as many physics courses as they can so they develop as solid and broad a foundation in their understanding of physics as possible.  Physics electives should be selected to compliment a student's career goals.  Below are suggesions for courses that would be appropriate for students interested in pursuing different career paths.

 

Graduate Studies in Physics 

It important that students who are planning to continue the study of physics in graduate school take as many physics electives as possible.  The courses listed below are roughly equal in importance.  The three advanced theory courses, PHYS 422, PHYS 432, and PHYS 443, bolster the student's preparation for the courses taken during the first year in graduate school.  Students interested in pursuing a track in theoretical physics in graduate school should also consider MATH 361, Numerical Analysis, and MATH 411, Complex Analysis.

Intermediate Courses:
PHYS 352 Optics
PHYS 356 Electronics
PHYS 362 Thermophysics
MATH 211 Linear Algebra
Advanced Courses:
PHYS 422 Mechanics II
PHYS 432 Electro Magnetic Theory
PHYS 443 Quantum Mechanics II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Technical Employment Immediately Following Graduation 

Students who are planning to start careers using their scientific and technical skills for employers immediately upon completing a B.S. in physics can often find jobs in research and development, quality control, and manufacturing.  Students interested in this career path should try to take the four electives listed below.  Additional electives, particularly in computer science, would be a good idea.

PHYS 352 Optics
PHYS 356 Electronics
PHYS 362 Thermophysics
CSCI 141 Introduction to Computer Science I

 

Non-Technical Employment Immediately Following Graduation

Student who want to major in physics because they enjoy science, but who are interested in a non-scientific area like business, finance, and government, find that physics is an excellent liberal arts degree because of its heavy emphasis on critical analysis and problem solving; additionally, there is a high demand in those fields for people who understand science.  Students interested in this career path should seriously consider taking PHYS 362, Thermophysics, as an elective because it introduces the concepts that are critical to understanding energy conservation and fuel efficiency.  The student's electives should mostly be chosen from outside the Physics Department, with courses that will build communication skills or build an understanding of public policy issues, business, or finance.  Completing a minor in one of the Humanities, one of the Social Sciences, Business, or Finance would significantly strengthen a student's resume.

PHYS 362 Thermophysics

 

Teaching High School Physics

High school physics teachers are always in demand in Florida's school districts as well as across the country.  For teaching in Florida, most students interested in teaching physics complete the standard physics major, and then apply for a Temporary Teaching Certificate when they graduate, and immediately begin applying for teaching positions.  The Temporary Teaching Certificate is good for three years, during which time you work on completing the courses (usually three courses) required for the regular Professional Certificate.  Recent alumni who are now teaching have said that the classes needed for full certification are readily available and not difficult to pass.  Other states have similar requriements.  Students should contact the Stetson's Teacher Education Department to find out what the current requirements are.

Students interested in teaching high school physics should try to take the three electives listed below.  Additional courses are generally a good idea, but they may be selected according to interest.

PHYS 352 Optics
PHYS 356 Electronics
PHYS 362 Thermophysics

 

Electrical Engineering

Students interested in pre-engineering or a dual-degree program in engineering should see the descriptions of those programs. Students who are interested in graduate study in electrical engineering after completing a B.S. in physics at Stetson should try to take the electives listed below.  Additional courses are generally a good idea, but they may be selected according to interest.

PHYS 356 Electronics
PHYS 362 Thermophysics
PHYS 432 Electromagnetic Theory
MATH 211 Linear Algebra

 

Civil, Mechanical, or Aeronautical Engineering

Students interested in pre-engineering or a dual-degree program in engineering should see the descriptions of those programs. Students who are interested in graduate study in civil, mechanical, or aeronautical engineering after completing a B.S. in physics at Stetson should try to take the electives listed below.  Additional courses are generally a good idea, but they may be selected according to interest. 

PHYS 362 Thermophysics
PHYS 442 Mechanics II
MATH 211 Linear Alebra

 

Medical School of Other Health Professional Schools

Students interested in pursuing a career in medicine or other health profession will need to work with advisors in both the Physics Department and the Pre-Health Professions Program to lay out a sequence of courses that best suits the student's needs.  In addition to the courses required by the physics program, the student will probably need to take the following biology and chemistry courses:

BIOL 141 & 142 Introduction to Biology I & II
CHEM 141 & 142 General Chemistry I & II
CHEM 201 & 301 Organic Chemistry I & II
CHEM 204 Biochemistry


One possible sequence for the courses is shown here.
 These additional courses will not leave much room for extra physics courses.  If the student does have time for extra electives in physics, some good choices might be:

PHYS 352 Optics
PHYS 356 Electronics
PHYS 412 Advanced Laboratory Techniques 

 

Other Career Paths

There are other career paths that a physics major can be well-prepared to pursue.  Students considering other career paths should talke extensively with their advisors so that their course selections can be tailored to best fit their needs.  Students interested in entering the work force immediately after completing their B.S. degree may make themselves more marketable by supplementing their physics major with a minor ina  complimentary field.

 

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