Jun 19, 2024  
2008-2009 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2014 
2008-2009 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2014 [Archived Catalog]

Physics (BA)

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Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences
Degrees Offered: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
Minor Offered: Physics
Also Offered: Pre-Engineering Program and 3+2 Physics/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 Department 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 Arts degree strikes a balance between breadth and depth in the study of physics, and provides flexibility for students planning a career remote from physics such as medicine, education, law, or engineering. 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. 


Departmental Honors in Physics are awarded to graduating students who meet at least one of the following two requirements:

  1. 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
  2. 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.


Liberal Studies Program Requirements: 34-58 Credit Hours

Missouri Statute Requirement: 1-3 Credit Hours

Bachelor of Arts Requirements: 0-6 Credit Hours

Intermediate proficiency in ONE foreign language


The Physics BA Major consists of two (2) parts: Required Support and Major Requirements. Each student must complete both parts.

Part II: Major Requirements: 49 Credit Hours

Learning Plan****: 15 Credit Hours

Physics Electives

  • Choose at least 6 hours from the list below; at least one course must be PHYS 386, PHYS 482, or PHYS 486:


*Capstone Courses

**May be used to fulfill LSP requirements.

***The one credit for PHYS 491 will be attributed to the Major Requirements section above.

****The learning plan may be any existing minor (excluding Physics) of which at least 15 hours are not counted elsewhere or it may be a group of appropriate courses chosen by the student and his or her advisor. The initial learning plan and any subsequent changes must be approved by a committee consisting of the student’s advisor and two other physics faculty members (normally approved by the end of the sophomore year).

Electives to Total: 124 Credit Hours

Further Degree Criterion:

All Physics majors must score at or above the 20th percentile on the nationally-normed senior exam (MFAT).

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