Why Study Physics

Training in physics emphasizes practical mathematical skills, problem-solving techniques, and abstract analytical thinking. Physics is used in the design and construction of everything from toasters to super computers, from bridges to particle accelerators, from umbrellas to medical imaging devices. No process, natural or man-made, can violate the basic laws of nature. An understanding of these laws therefore is crucial to both scientists and engineers.

Why Study Physics at Ship

Ship students get solid training in physics at Ship with 3 separate degree programs offered in the Department of Physics:

The university offers a comfortable learning atmosphere where the emphasis is on quality teaching and student-faculty interaction. Small class sizes (most physics lectures have less than 40 students, and the maximum number of students in labs is 18) and a dedicated faculty ensure quality. You will be treated as an individual and have plenty of opportunities for face-to-face interaction with faculty.

The Department of Physics also has a combined library/computer laboratory and a dedicated study lounge for physics students. We encourage all our undergraduate students to become fully involved in joint student-faculty research projects, a privilege most universities reserve for graduate students.

Career Opportunities and Salary Estimates

Many physicists work in research laboratories in industry, universities, and government, but that is only the beginning. Training in physics emphasizes practical mathematical skills, problem-solving techniques, and abstract analytical thinking. These skills are highly valued in today’s fast-paced, technology-based world. A degree in physics is a very good background for law school, medical school, and business school and for graduate work in biophysics and medical technology. Engineering, patent law, consulting, management and teaching are just a few of the career options available to the physics graduate.

The average salary for physicists in PA is $68,000.  

If you plan to study physics in college, we recommend you take 4 years of math in high school: one year each of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. If possible, taking a high school calculus course and/or physics course is beneficial. Communication skills, both oral and written, are essential in any field and especially in the sciences, where you are required to explain phenomena clearly.

All of the physics degrees offered at Shippensburg University require you to complete courses in the Physics Core (55 credits). If you are interested in earning a Bachelor of Science from the Physics Department, we offer two tracks: Advanced Physics (29 credits) and Computational Physics (31 credits), and a certificate in nanofabrication to complement the general Bachelor of Science in Physics (20 credits).

The Applied Physics program (98 credits) results in a dual Physics-Engineering degree, and it is controlled by 3+2 agreements between Shippensburg’s Physics Department and several engineering schools.

The Bachelor of Science in Education program (135 credits) leads to teaching certification in Physics at the secondary level. A certification in General Science can be obtained by taking three additional credits in Computer Science and six in Biology.

Shippensburg University offers a minor in physics, which includes 41 credits of math and physics courses. Mathematics, computer science, and chemistry majors will find the physics minor especially helpful. More and more employers in these fields seek out applicants with a physics background.

The physics department has a chapter of the Society of Physics Students, which is affiliated with the American Institute of Physics. Our active chapter organizes many interesting events each year. Trips to national laboratories, tours of engineering departments, and social events are just a few. New students are welcome and encouraged to become contributing members. Our top students may also be elected to membership in Sigma Pi Sigma, the national Physics Honor Society.

Franklin Science Center 215B, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1570
Department Website