Jul 15, 2024  
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics, B.A.

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Physics, B.A. Program (120 units)

Program Description

In Physics, one attempts to discover, formulate, explain, and apply the basic laws of nature. Physicists work in areas as diverse as astrophysics, relativity, properties of materials, or the standard model of fundamental particles and interactions. The Principles of Physics provide the foundation for other sciences as well as engineering. Some of the examples of modern technological development from the application of physical principles include radio and television, computers, laser scanners, and communication by fiber optics. In addition, physicists explore problems in astronomy and theories for the origin and evolution of the universe.

At Cal State East Bay students can choose between a Bachelor of Science (B.S) degree and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree with a major in Physics. The B.S. degree major program is designed to give students an understanding of the fundamentals of physics including concepts of atomic and nuclear physics, classical mechanics, wave motion and sound, electromagnetism and optics, heat and thermodynamics, relativity, quantum mechanics, and elementary particles and their interactions.

Whereas the B.S. degree provides more focus, the B.A. degree major program is designed to satisfy the needs of students who require greater breadth of study across the sciences than the B.S. program can provide. Students who might be more interested in the B.A. degree, for example, would be prospective secondary-school teachers, or students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary study (e.g., in biophysics), or graduate study in professional programs (e.g., in the health sciences), business, or law in technical fields. For those students interested in becoming secondary-school teachers, an option in Physics Education is available which has a larger breadth of science courses required for teaching in California. 

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a degree in Physics will be able to: 

  • Describe the fundamental principles of physics and be able to apply these core ideas to analyze physical processes;
  • Use quantitative reasoning and critical thinking to solve problems, both theoretical and experimental in nature;
  • Learn new technical subjects and skills;
  • Construct, assess and troubleshoot experiments, quantitatively analyze the results using appropriate statistical procedures and tests of systematic errors, and draw meaningful conclusions;
  • Effectively explain scientific ideas, both theoretical and experimental, to diverse audiences through written and oral presentations, both formal and informal;
  • Work professionally, effectively, and inclusively as a member of diverse collaborations to solve problems.

Program Roadmaps

These program roadmaps represent recommended pathways through the program. Please see an advisor to create an education plan that is customized to meet your needs.

4-Year Freshmen Roadmap

2-Year Transfer Roadmap

Career Opportunities

Astronomer • Biochemical Engineer • Device Engineer • Electrical Engineer • Electric Power Administrator • Geophysicists • Laboratory Assistant • Laser Technician • Mechanical Engineer • Pharmacologist • Physics Teacher • Pollution Control Technician • Professor • Renewable Energy Manager  • Research Scientist • Satellite Engineer  • Security Researcher • Software Engineer • Technical writer


With relatively small classes and teaching as a major emphasis of faculty members, the Physics major involves a considerable amount of individualized instruction. In addition, every faculty member runs a research program and students are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research.

Hands-on experience is a central theme of the programs. Upper division students use modern equipment to conduct experiments in such areas as fiber optics, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and solar cell construction and characterization. 

Physics majors have an opportunity to be inducted into the national Physics honors society, Sigma Pi Sigma. Additionally, students may join the Society of Physics Students (SPS). 

Degree Requirements Unit-Outline

  • The baccalaureate of arts degree requires a total of 120 units:
    • The major requirements consists of 45-49 units;
    • General Education (GE) & Graduation Requirements (GR) consists of 57 units;
    • Free Electives may consist of 14-18 units (actual number of free elective units may depend on GE/GR units).

Note: It may be possible to double-count units within the graduation requirements or that a course may satisfy both a graduation requirement and a major requirement.  Students should contact their program and AACE advisors for information.

Physics (B.A.) Major Requirements (45-49 units)

Lower Division Coursework

The following 21-25 units of interdisciplinary coursework is required:

Elective Courses

Choose a minimum of 6 units from the following:

Other Undergraduate Degree Requirements

In addition to major requirements, every student must also complete the University’s baccalaureate requirements for graduation, which are described in the Undergrad Baccalaureate & Program Requirements  chapter of this catalog. 

Department Courses Listed by Course Type

Physics Courses

Department of Physics

Go to information for this department.



Physics: Astronomy


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