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Bachelor of Arts

(updated on September 13, 2016)

The B.A. degree with a major in physics is our most flexible degree program.  Compared to our B.S. degree, there are 27 fewer required credits of physics courses, including 3 fewer advanced laboratory courses.  This makes the B.A. degree particularly attractive to students who wish to combine a study of physics with the pursuit of other interests.  Often such students complete a second major in the arts, humanities or social sciences.  B.A. students are frequently interested in following the B.A. with a professional degree in medicine, law or business.  The empirical foundations of modern physics provide a stimulating and coherent core for a diverse range of careers. The impact of science and technology on all areas of human activity is growing steadily.  Understanding the scientific enterprise can be crucial in business, finance, medicine, law, the media, literature, the arts, general education, government, and any number of other pursuits.

The 27 credits of required physics courses provide exposure to a broad range of physical phenomena as well as training in the scientific method, techniques of problem solving, data analysis, quantitative approaches to physical problems, and experimental procedures.  Although less intense than the B.S. program, the B.A. program still provides an excellent preparation for graduate study in physics, comparable to undergraduate programs in physics at some of the best liberal art institutions.  At the same time, a reduced requirement for technical courses in the physics B.A. program provides an opportunity to explore other disciplines in depth.

The freshman year is very similar for B.A. and B.S. students, the only differences being that the B.A. student has a wider choice of non-physics science electives and may choose to take the introductory physics and math courses designed for life science students.  In the second year, the B.A. physics major has a required course in modern physics and an opportunity to begin taking advanced electives in physics.  In the junior and senior years, the student will have lecture courses in quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics and two upper-level advanced physics electives, the latter chosen from a set of eleven approved courses. An important component of the senior year is the senior capstone. B.A. majors who choose to do their capstone through the Department of Physics have worked on a wide variety of topics with mentors from departments across campus and even off-campus.

Detailed requirements for the B.A. Degree with a Major in Physics for students entering in the class of fall 2016 are shown in the table below*. Students who matriculated to CWRU before fall 2016 should consult the General Bulletin for the year they started at CWRU for program requirements that apply for them.

*A student’s Academic Requirement page in SIS and the University’s General Bulletin, http://bulletin.case.edu/, are the definitive sources for course and degree information.  

Course  

Yr*

Cred

Course  

Yr*

Cred

PHYS 115,121 or 123

Intro Mech

1

4

Intro. Science 1***  

1

3 (4)

PHYS 116, 122 or 124

Intro E&M

1

4

Intro. Science 2***  

1

3 (4)

PHYS 221

Modern

2

3

ENGR 131 or EECS 132

CompP

1

3

PHYS 301

Adv. Lab I

3F

3

MATH 121, 123 or 125

Calc 1

1

4

PHYS 303
AdvLabSem
3F
1
MATH 122, 124 or 126

Calc 2

1

4

PHYS 313

Thermo

3F

3

MATH 223 or 227

Calc 3

2

3

PHYS 331

QM 1

3F

3

MATH 224

Dif. Eq.

2

3

Two of the following:       Subtotal    

23

PHYS 250

CompMeth

2S

3

       
PHYS 310

Clas. Mech.

2S

3

SAGES first/univ sem
 

1&2

10

PHYS 324

E&M I

3S

3

SAGES dept. sem ****
 

3 or 4

2 or 3

PHYS 315

Sol. St.

4F

3

SAGES capstone*****
 

4

3 or 4

PHYS 316

Nuc. & Par.

4S

3

Breadth requirement ******    
12
PHYS 320

Biophysics

3or4F

3

Open electives*******    

43

PHYS 326

Optics

S

3

PHED 2 semesters    

0

PHYS 327

Laser Physics

F

3

Subtotal    

70

PHYS 328 or 336**

Cosmology

4

3

       
PHYS 365

General Rel.

4

3

       
               
Subtotal    

27

Total    

120

* course usually taken in this year, ‘F’ or ‘S’ indicates it is normally offered in fall or spring. Other courses are offered both semesters (100 & 200 level) or on no fixed schedule..

** Students may choose only one of these two courses to satisfy the requirements of the BA degree.

*** A two course science sequence chosen from : ASTR 221 and ASTR 222; CHEM 105 and 106; CHEM 111 and ENGR 145; BIOL 214 and 215; EEPS 101 or EEPS 110 and EEPS 115 and EEPS 117; or another two course sequence totaling 6 or more credits in a quantitative science (other than physics), with approval of the Physics Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

**** PHYS 303 + PHYS 352 can be used to satisfy the SAGES departmental seminar requirement.

***** PHYS 351 can be used to satisfy the SAGES capstone requirement.

****** The breadth requirements include 6 hours of Social Sciences and 6 hours of Arts and Humanities. This may increase by 3 credits if the required Global and Cultural Diversity course is not also one of the breadth requirement courses. Courses required for the BS in Physics satisfy the 6 credit GER for Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sciences as well as the Quantitative Reasoning course requirement

******* The number of open electives will vary depending on course choices made by each student.  The BA degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours at the 300-400 level, of which only 16 are specified as PHYS courses. No more than 42 hours beyond the 100-level in any one department (the physics BA specifies 19 such credits) may be applied to the 120 credit total and at least 90 credits must be in the College of Arts and Sciences.


 

Typical Schedule

(* indicates options, 4-5 of the Open Elective courses are normally used to satisfy GER Breadth Requirements.)

 

Fall (Class Hours-Lab Hours-Credit Hours)

Spring (Class Hours-Lab Hours-Credit Hours)

First Year

PHYS 115, 121 or 123  Mechanics (4-3-4)

MATH 121 Calculus for Science and Engineering I (4-0-4)

INTRO SCIENCE I Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective = PHYS 166 Physics Today & Tom. (1-0-1)

FS** SAGES First Seminar (4-0-4)

PHED *** Physical Education Activities (0-3-0)

PHYS 116, 122 or PHYS 124 Electricity & Magnetism (4-3-4)

MATH 122 Calculus for Science and Engineering II (4-0-4)

INTRO SCIENCE II Elective (3-0-3)

ENGR 131 Elementary Computer Programming (2-2-3)

US** University Seminar (3-0-3)

PHED *** Physical Education Activities (0-3-0)

Second Year

PHYS 221 General Physics III  Modern Physics (3-0-3)

MATH 223 Calculus for Science & Engineering III (3-0-3)

US** University Seminar (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

PHYS 3** Physics Elective (3-0-3)

MATH 224 Differential Equations (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Third Year

PHYS 301+303 Adv.LabPhysics I+Seminar (0-7-3)+(1-0-1)

PHYS 313 Thermodynamics & Statistical Mech. (3-0-3)

PHYS 331 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I(3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (2-0-2)

PHYS 3** Physics Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Fourth Year

PHYS 351+353 Senior Project+Seminar (0-6-2)+(1-0-1)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

PHYS 351+353 Senior Physics +Seminar (0-6-2)+(1-0-1)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

Open* Elective (3-0-3)

  For more information, contact Prof. Gary Chottiner, gsc2@po.cwru.edu .

Page last modified: September 13, 2016