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Degree Programs

Pacific offers a number of Physics degree and concentration combinations which, broadly speaking, provide students with the following.

Bachelor of Science

  • Preparation for advanced study (Ph.D.) toward a career as an academic or research physicist in a specific field such as particle physics or astrophysics, among many others.
  • A very flexible entry into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) career where a deep understanding of the laws of physics is needed.
  • The ability to move across disciplines into areas where synthetic problem solving and scientific expertise is required, such as medical technology, patent law, financial modeling and governmental science policy.

Students can further choose to focus their studies by choosing a Concentration for their Bachelor of Science degree, which builds on the research strengths of the department faculty in close one-on-one activities and undergraduate research opportunities. A student declaring a concentration in one of the following areas must take two specific upper division electives, and will have advanced laboratory and senior thesis work related to the topic of their concentration.

At present, three Concentrations are available:

  1. Computational Physics: using supercomputers to simulate the physics of complex phenomena.
  2. Astrophysics: the study of planets, stars, galaxies and the large scale structure of the universe.
  3. Mathematical Physics: the interface of Math and Physics (for the theoretically inclined).

Bachelor of Science in Engineering-Physics

This degree is for students who enjoy the design and applied nature of engineering, but want to remain broad in their understanding of different fundamentals which are part of the research and development of new technologies. Engineering-Physics majors are employed in fields of research where new technologies are being developed, such as (to just name a few):

  • Alternative energy development
  • Nanotechnology and engineered materials
  • Applications of superconductivity
  • Lasers/Quantum optics
  • Fluids and plasmas

A joint degree with Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Engineering-Physics degree is a five-year degree in which two semesters are done in a paid industrial Co-op. Engineering-Physics majors tend to do Co-ops with firms that have a significant research and development thrust, such as:

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Cisco Systems
  • Nvidia
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Intel
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Bachelor of Arts—Physics Teaching Track

In addition to training the current generation of college students to be physicists, there is a great need in the U.S. for highly qualified secondary (8-12th grade) physical science teachers who will prepare the following generation of scientists. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics includes slightly fewer specialized upper division courses, so that the student interested in becoming a teacher can focus on building a strong content foundation across the physical sciences by taking additional courses in chemistry and geosciences, as well as courses in education though the Pacific’s Benerd School of Education.

The Physics Department has been a partner with the San Joaquin County Office of Education for over 10 years, running the Delta Sierra Science Project (DSSP), a professional development network for science teachers of all grade levels. The DSSP runs intensive summer institutes and other year-round programs for teacher development, serving the region of Amador, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties.

Thus, opportunities for internships, research projects and networking within the northern California community of science teachers are easily available.

The Physics Minor

A minor in Physics provides the student of any discipline with a very strong understanding of the foundations of science and the workings of the physical world. The study of physics teaches abstract problem solving skills which are both of great benefit to the student and impressive to prospective employers.