Training in physics emphasizes practical mathematical skills, problem-solving techniques, and abstract analytical thinking.
What is physics?
Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences. It attempts to describe the basic laws that govern all of the physical world. From unimaginative small subatomic particles to the collision of galaxies, the laws of physics describe an incredibly vast array of phenomena with astounding accuracy and precision.
Where is physics used?
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. Physicists working in pure research try to discover new laws of nature or better understand the known laws. They might be interested in answering questions like "How did the universe begin?" Those involved in applied research try to apply the known laws to new situations. "What are the limits on how much information can be packed in computer memory?" is a question that might concern an applied physicist.
What kind of career choices can I expect?
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, 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.
How should I prepare for a physics major?
Physics is a science that is highly mathematical. An aptitude and enjoyment of mathematics is required for any physicist. You should also like solving puzzles, be interested in science, and enjoy working with computers.
Typically, students who plan to study physics in college take four years of math in high school. Two courses in algebra, one course in geometry, and one course in trigonometry form a solid basis for studying physics. If possible, a high school physics course and/or calculus 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.
What programs are available at Shippensburg University?
The physics department at Shippensburg University offers three options. They are:
- The bachelor of science degree in physics prepares the student for entry directly into the job market or graduate school. Students gain a sound foundation in all the major subdisciplines of physics.
- The bachelor of science in education degree in physics prepares the student for state certification to teach high school physics.
- The applied physics/engineering program allows the student to enter a career in engineering while still enjoying benefits of a liberal arts education. Three years are spent at Shippensburg and then two years at an Engineering School such as the University of Maryland or the Pennsylvania State University. This results in two bachelor degrees: a degree in Applied Physics from Shippensburg University and the second degree in an engineering discipline from the partner university.
Can I minor in physics?
Shippensburg University offers a minor in physics, which includes 42 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.
What student organizations are there?
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.
Why study physics at Shippensburg University?
You will have a wide variety of career choices with the three separate programs offered at Shippensburg University. In addition, the university offers you a comfortable atmosphere where the emphasis is on quality teaching and student-faculty interaction. Small class sizes (the maximum size of any physics lecture is 32 students, maximum laboratory size is 16 students) and a dedicated faculty (even our labs are taught by the faculty) ensure quality. If you wish to get solid training in physics at an institution where you are treated as an individual and where the faculty have time for you, then consider attending Shippensburg University.
The Shippensburg University Department of Physics also has a computer laboratory for physics majors and a state-of-the-art computer interfaced video facility for creating educational videos. We also offer the opportunity for top undergraduate students to get involved in research projects, a privilege most universities reserve for graduate students.