Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences
Degree Offered: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
Minor Offered: Physics
Also Offered: 3+2 Pre-Engineering Dual Degree Program
“The science of physics seeks to understand the behavior of matter and energy at the most general and fundamental level. The sister sciences of chemistry, earth sciences, and biology (including parts of medical science) build on the laws of physics and rely on many instruments originally devised by physicists. Physics underlies engineering and most of modern technology, and it plays a basic and essential role in our economy and our culture…” (National Academy of Sciences)
The mission of the Physics Program at Truman State University is to support the liberal learning of all students at Truman State University by teaching well and by broadly espousing the notion that the pursuit of understanding in physics is worthwhile, interesting, and deeply satisfying; to support students whose primary field of study overlaps with physics (e.g., chemistry, biology, medicine, and mathematics); and to provide physics majors with the knowledge, skills, methods, and attitudes necessary to understand and engage professionally in inquiry into the nature and behavior of the physical world.
In order to serve this mission, the Physics Program is designed to achieve the following general goals: 1) to help students appreciate and understand the process of science, in particular its ever-changing nature, the fact that it is a human endeavor, the back and forth between experiment and abstract reasoning, and the importance of internal consistency; 2) to stimulate lifelong, independent learning; 3) to awaken and nurture appreciation for the beauty of physics; and 4) to contribute to a realistic understanding of technology and its role in society.
Specifically, the physics department strives to provide an environment where all our students: 1) develop a broad and coherent knowledge of physics; 2) experience activities unique to scientific research; 3) develop positive work habits, including collaboration, self-discipline, high aspirations, responsibility and honesty; and 4) are successful in graduate school, professional school, engineering school, or in the workforce.
The Physics Bachelor of Science degree is a rigorous and challenging program designed to prepare students for graduate-level study in physics or a related field. A key feature of the Physics BS is the faculty-mentored research experience that allows students to deeply explore some aspect of the physical world in modern research facilities and provides students with valuable skills and insights into the processes of physics inquiry.
The Physics Bachelor of Arts degree is also intellectually challenging, but provides more flexibility for students planning a career more distant from physics such as medicine, education, or law. The Physics BA features a student-designed learning plan adding breadth to the physics education.
For all physics majors, a strong emphasis is placed on close and frequent contact with individual faculty members. Upper-level classes are small, and one-on-one interactions between the faculty and students are common. Many physics majors have strong ties to other disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, chemistry, music, philosophy, education, business, or political science which then become part of their research endeavors, minors, second majors, and post-graduate study.
Because physics is so fundamental a science and because it involves intense training in critical thinking, quantitative analysis, and creative problem solving, the physics graduate adapts easily to a large number of high-tech fields including biophysics, geophysics, engineering, systems analysis, information science, and medicine. Physics majors are also well-prepared to follow careers in the technology sectors of business and law.
Students intending to receive a bachelor’s degree in Physics must take the Major Field Test-Physics during their last regular semester (fall or spring). In addition, students who wish to apply for admission to graduate programs in physics should take the Graduate Record Examination (subject Physics) in the semester prior to submitting applications.
OVERVIEW OF THE INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS COURSES
In all introductory physics courses, students will make extensive use of quantitative reasoning in applying the fundamental laws of physics to real-world problems, and will explore the physicist’s approach to inquiry through laboratory investigations. Students will explore some of the history of physics, its technological, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects, and its place in the history of ideas.
PHYS 100, 185, 186, 195, 196 all satisfy the Scientific: Physical Science Mode of Inquiry within the Liberal Studies Program. PHYS 245 Astronomy and PHYS 246 Meteorology also meet this LSP requirement. All include a laboratory a component.
PHYS 100 (“Concepts in Physics”): This is a one-semester course focusing primarily on the conceptual understanding of physics. It is typically taken by students not majoring in science. It does not prepare the student for advanced courses in physics; however, it has occasionally been taken by students as preparation for the PHYS 185-186 or PHYS 195-196 sequences. Basic algebra skills are expected of the student.
PHYS 185-186 (“College Physics”): This is a two-semester sequence which primarily surveys the core of classical physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, waves, and thermodynamics) at a level suitable for those with a strong background in algebra and trigonometry. This sequence is more broadly focused than PHYS 195-196 in its topical coverage, less deep in its treatment of physics, and less rigorous mathematically. It is not intended as preparation for advanced courses in physics. College Physics is often taken by students following certain science major or pre-professional programs other than Physics, Pre-engineering, and Chemistry–Option I. It does not satisfy the requirements of these last three major programs, or of the physics minor. It does satisfy the major program requirements for Biology and for Chemistry–Option II.
PHYS 195-196 (“Physics with Calculus”): This two-semester sequence covers mechanics and electromagnetism at a level suitable for those with knowledge of calculus, and prepares the student for advanced courses in physics. The primary audience for this sequence consists of those planning advanced work in physics, engineering, or a related area. Students majoring in the natural sciences, in mathematics and related fields, or in other technical areas, and who wish to take introductory physics, should seriously consider taking PHYS 195-196 because of its depth. Students following major programs in physics or engineering are required to take the two-semester sequence PHYS 195-196.
DEPARTMENTAL HONORS IN PHYSICS
Departmental Honors in Physics are awarded to graduating students who meet at least one of the following two requirements:
- a grade point average in physics courses required for the major which equals or exceeds 3.50, and a score at or above the 90th percentile in the Physics Major Field Test, OR
- a grade point average in physics courses required for the major which equals or exceeds 3.75, and a score at or above the 80th percentile in the Physics Major Field Test.
This program offers a combination of degree programs from two institutions that allows a student to receive two related degrees in five years. The 3+2 Dual Degree allows the student to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Truman and a Bachelor of Science from an engineering school (e.g., Rolla, MU, Iowa State, etc.) in ten semesters. The advantages of this program are many. Students graduate from Truman possessing a strong background in physics and a broad liberal arts background. The engineering degree provides the depth and focus of an engineering discipline, and the expertise to be a professional in the technical world. Such a background gives flexibility and breadth, the ability to communicate well, and the capability to work independently and in challenging environments.
The BA in Physics is a typical “four-year” degree from Truman. It provides the strong liberal arts core, the solid foundation of physics, and a personalized 15-hour learning plan through which a student tailors his or her degree to suit future plans. Students must complete the Liberal Studies Program and all Truman graduation requirements. Engineering courses comprise the entirety of the BA learning plan. Eight credit hours are to be finished at Truman and the remaining 7 hours are completed at the chosen engineering school. The Physics BA also requires 6 credit hours (2 courses) of physics-related electives, which are typically engineering courses taken at the engineering school. The Truman Residence Requirement for graduation is waived for students in this dual degree program.
Each 3+2 dual degree student will have a three-person engineering advisory committee who will work with the individual student before and after his or her transfer from Truman. This committee will serve as a liaison as the engineering courses are completed and the student applies for graduation from Truman. Please see a Physics faculty academic advisor for a more specific course listing for this dual degree program.