Physics BA

General Education Requirements

Majors must complete the university and college general education requirements. Any of the following courses may be used to satisfy the physical science requirement:

ASTRON 1001Cosmic Evolution Introductory Astronomy3
ASTRON 1011Planets and Life in the Universe3
ASTRON 1012The Violent Universe and the New Astronomy3
ASTRON 1050Introduction to Astronomy I (MOTR ASTR 100)3
ASTRON 1051Introduction to Astronomy II3
ATM SCI 1001Elementary Meteorology3
GEOL 1001General Geology3
GEOL 1002Historical Geology3
PHYSICS 1001How Things Work (MOTR PHYS 100)3
PHYSICS 1011Basic Physics I3
PHYSICS 1011LBasic Physics I Laboratory1
PHYSICS 1012Basic Physics II3
PHYSICS 1012LBasic Physics II Laboratory1
PHYSICS 2111Physics: Mechanics and Heat4
PHYSICS 2112Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics4

Declaring the Physics Major

Students seeking to major in physics are first designated as ‘pre-physics majors’ until they have completed both PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 or equivalent courses. Upon successful completion of PHYSICS 2111 and PHYSICS 2112 with grades of C- or better, students will be allowed to declare physics as their major. Each of these courses must be completed successfully within two attempts.

Degree Requirements

All physics majors in all programs must complete the physics core curriculum with the exception that majors pursuing the Physics Education option are not required to take PHYSICS 1099 and CMP SCI 1250. In addition to the core courses, each individual program has its own specific requirements. Required Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer Science courses for a major or minor in physics may not be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading basis.

Core Curriculum
The following physics courses are required: 23
Windows on Physics
Physics: Mechanics and Heat
Mechanics and Heat Laboratory
Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics
Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics Laboratory
Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics
Electricity and Magnetism
Introduction to Modern Physics I
Also required are: 26
Analytic Geometry and Calculus I
Analytic Geometry and Calculus II
Analytic Geometry and Calculus III
Introduction to Differential Equations
Introductory Chemistry I (MOTR CHEM 150L)
Introduction to Computing
Total Hours49

Note: Students are urged to begin the calculus sequence [MATH 1800, Analytic Geometry and Calculus I] as soon as possible to avoid delays in graduation.

Students with experience in digital computer programming may be excused from CMP SCI 1250.

Bachelor of Arts in Physics

The B.A. program is tailored to students wishing to preserve the option for specialization in graduate school without sacrificing the advantages of a liberal arts education. In addition to the core curriculum, including the foreign language requirement, at least three electives at the 3000 or 4000 levels must be completed. It is recommended that at least one of these three electives include ASTRON 4322, PHYSICS 4311, or PHYSICS 4347 for the required capstone course. The Department of Physics and Astronomy will accept the three-course sequence in American Sign Language as a substitution for the foreign language requirement for the degree. At least 31 hours of physics courses, but no more than 45 hours, are required.

B.S. Ed. in Secondary Education with Emphasis in Physics 

The B.S. Ed. is a professional education degree designed for students who wish to pursue a teaching career in secondary schools.  Much of the discipline-specific coursework parallels the B.A. or B.S. degree in the discipline; however, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires specific coursework for teacher certification.  Therefore, students interested in the B.S. Ed. should contact the advising office (OASIS) 314-516-5937 in the College of Education for discipline-specific requirements.  Note:  To obtain teaching certification, DESE requires a 3.0 GPA in the discipline and professional education coursework, as well as a 2.75 GPA overall. 

B.A. or B.S. in Physics with Master’s Level Coursework for Secondary Teacher Certification

In addition to the B.S. Ed., students may opt to complete a B.A. or B.S. degree in their discipline as an undergraduate, followed by admission to the Graduate School for Master’s level teaching certification.  The College of Education has a one-year accelerated program for post-graduate certification called Teach in 12, or students can choose a traditional path to certification.  Graduate coursework for certification can apply towards a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education, with additional coursework.  Students interested in Master’s Level teacher certification should contact the advising office (OASIS) 314-516-5937 in the College of Education.  Note:  To obtain teaching certification, DESE requires a 3.0 GPA in the discipline and professional education coursework, as well as a 2.75 GPA overall. 

Program Purpose

The purpose of the B.A. in Physics program at the University of Missouri at St. Louis is to prepare students for a professional career and/or graduate or professional studies in a field that combines the physical sciences with aspects of the humanities or other professions, such as science advocacy, science policy, patent law, or science journalism.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate an of basic physics concepts including classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language
  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding several advanced undergraduate areas of physics/astronomy, such as observational astrophysics, biophysics, quantum mechanics, or experimental design
  • Students will be skilled in problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical reasoning as applied to scientific problems
  • Students will be proficient in both written and oral communication of the results of scientific work
  • Students will have the skills necessary for conducting original scientific research as part of an interdisciplinary problem-solving team
  • Students will have the skills necessary to identify possible errors in scientific data, and to assess the significance of observed results

Sample Four Year Plan 

First Year
INTDSC 100311CHEM 11115
PHYSICS 10991MATH 18005
MATH 10303Foreign Language 10025
MATH 10352 
Foreign Language 10015 
ENGL 11003 
 15 15
Second Year
MATH 19005MATH 20005
CMP SCI 12503CORE - US History and Government3
Foreign Language 21013EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 16 16
Third Year
MATH 20203ENGL 31603
CORE - Communication Proficiency3EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3Cultural Diversity Requirement3
 15 15
Fourth Year
PHYSICS/ASTRON 3000+ Physics or Astronomy Elective elective3PHYSICS/ASTRON 3000+Physics or Astronomy lective3
PHYSICS/ASTRON 3000+ Physics or Astronomy Elective elective3EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3
EXPLORE - Social Sciences3Elective or minor3
EXPLORE - Social Sciences3Elective or minor3
Elective or minor1-3Elective or minor3
 13-15 15
Total Hours: 120-122

Please Note: This plan is an example of what a four year plan could look like for a typical student. Placement exam scores in math as well as the completion of coursework may change the plan. It should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester. All requirements are subject to change.