Physics BS, General Physics Emphasis

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.

General Physics Option

This option may be elected by students desiring a greater concentration in physics and mathematics and is recommended for students wishing to enter graduate study in physics. At least 50 hours are required. In addition to the core curriculum, the following physics courses are required:

PHYSICS 4310Modern Electronics3
PHYSICS 4311Advanced Physics Laboratory I3
PHYSICS 4323Modern Optics3
PHYSICS 4331Intro to Quantum Mechanics3
PHYSICS 4341Thermal and Statistical Physics3
PHYSICS 4350Computational Physics3
Select three electives at or above the 4000 level in physics or astronomy. 9
ASTRON 1050Introduction to Astronomy I (MOTR ASTR 100)3
or ASTRON 1051 Introduction to Astronomy II
MATH 2450Elementary Linear Algebra3
Select one elective in mathematics at or above the 3000 level, or in computer science at or above the 2000 level.3
CHEM 1121Introductory Chemistry II (or equivalent)5
Total Hours41

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.S. in Physics (General Physics Option) program at the University of Missouri at St. Louis is to prepare students for a professional career in physics or a related field, or for graduate studies in physics.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of basic physics concepts including classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal and statistical physics, quantum mechanics, and modern electronics
  • Students will be able to design and perform basic physics experiments, assess the significance of their results, and interpret the observed outcomes
  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of some areas of the most recent physics research, such as advances in materials physics or nanoscience
  • 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 a 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 100311ASTRON 10513
PHYSICS 10991CHEM 11215
CHEM 11115MATH 18005
MATH 10352CORE - US History and Government3
ENGL 11003 
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3 
 15 16
Second Year
MATH 19005MATH 20005
CMP SCI 12503MATH 24503
EXPLORE – Social Sciences3CMP SCI 2XXX course or MATH 3XXX MATH course3
 16 16
Third Year
MATH 20203PHYSICS 43413
EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts3PHYSICS/ASTRON 4XXX Physics or Astronomy Course3
CORE - Communication Proficiency3EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 15 15
Fourth Year
PHYSICS 43233PHYSICS/ASTRON 4XXX Physics or Astronomy Course3
PHYSICS/ASTRON 4XXX Physics or Astronomy Course3EXPLORE - Humanities and Fine Arts23
ENGL 31603EXPLORE - Social Sciences3
 15 15
Total Hours: 123

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.