BA in Physics (Teacher Preparation)

Units required for Major: 86-87
Total units required for BA: 120

Program Description

The Science Subject Matter Program (SSMP), with emphases in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics, leads to a BA degree in the area of emphasis. It also meets the latest California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) subject-matter requirement to enter a teaching credential program in California. In order to obtain a California K-12 Teaching Credential, a program of professional education preparation (a teaching credential program) is required in addition to completing the SSMP. Completing the SSMP and teaching credential program allows graduates to teach all four sciences (biology, chemistry, geoscience, and physics) at the general/integrated 7th-12th grade science level, in addition to the student's area of concentration at the advanced high school level. A typical credential might read, for example, SCIENCE: Chemistry.

Physics is the most fundamental science and underlies our understanding of nearly all areas of science and technology. In a broad sense, physics is concerned with the study of energy, space, and matter, and with the interactions between matter and the laws that govern these interactions. More specifically, physicists study mechanics, heat, light, electric and magnetic fields, gravitation, relativity, atomic and nuclear physics, and condensed matter physics.

The BA degree is recommended for students who are interested in teaching Physics in high school or who want a liberal arts education with an emphasis in Physics. Physics majors are encouraged to take additional mathematics and to develop skills in the use of computers.

Currently there is a serious need in public school education for well-educated science teachers. Physics majors who have an interest in teaching should see the credential advisor in the Department (Dr. Vera Margoniner) to plan an academic program and to explore ways to get involved in teaching-related activities such as tutoring, grading, and working in the schools.

Currently there is a great need for K-12 teachers educated in science. Changes in State Board of Education Standards and increasing interest in Biological Sciences have created significant demands for students with this credential. Biological Sciences majors who have an interest in teaching should contact one of the credential advisors in the Biological Sciences Department, Melanie Loo.


  • It is also possible to obtain admission to the Professional Education Program by passing a series of subject-matter examinations specified by the CTC in lieu of this Science Subject Matter Program. For information about this option contact the Teacher Preparation Program Office, Eureka Hall 216, (916) 278-6403.
  • Due to policy changes from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the federal No Child Left Behind mandate, the Science Subject Matter program was under review at the time of this catalog printing and is subject to revision. As a result it is important to consult a credential advisor for current details.

Minimum Grade Requirement

A grade of at least a "C-" in all required Science Subject Matter Program courses is necessary in order to meet subject matter requirements for admission to a teaching credential program. If a grade of "C-" is not achieved in all SSMP courses, then the current CTC approved subject matter exam must be successfully passed in order to be eligible for admission to a teaching credential program (the current exam is the CSET, tests I, II, and III). 

Note: It is recommended that all coursework for the SSMP be completed before starting the Teacher Education Program. At least 15 units of the coursework or equivalent work experience must be current, i.e., completed within the past six years.

Program Requirements

Required Lower Division Courses (58 Units)
ASTR 4AIntroduction to the Solar System3
or ASTR 4B Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
or ASTR 4C Introduction to Astrobiology
ASTR 6Astronomical Observation Laboratory1
BIO 1Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology 15
BIO 2Cells, Molecules and Genes5
CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry I5
CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry II5
ENVS 10Introduction to Environmental Science3
GEOL 10Physical Geology3
GEOL 10LPhysical Geology Lab1
MATH 30Calculus I 14
MATH 31Calculus II 14
MATH 32Calculus III4
MATH 45Differential Equations for Science and Engineering3
PHYS 11AGeneral Physics: Mechanics 14
PHYS 11BGeneral Physics: Heat, Light, Sound, Modern Physics4
PHYS 11CGeneral Physics: Electricity and Magnetism4
Required Upper Division Courses (22-23 Units)
PHYS 105Mathematical Methods in Physics3
PHYS 106Introduction to Modern Physics3
PHYS 110Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 115Electronics and Instrumentation4
PHYS 124Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 135Electricity And Magnetism3
PHYS 175Advanced Physics Laboratory2
PHYS 191Senior Project1 - 2
Elective Upper Division Requirements (6 Units)
Select 6 units of upper-division coursework chosen in consultation with physics advisor 26
Physics Colloquium Attendance
Fulfill a minimum attendance requirement 3
Total Units86-87

Elective List

PHYS 115Electronics and Instrumentation 44
PHYS 116Advanced Electronics and Instrumentation3
PHYS 130Acoustics3
PHYS 136Electrodynamics of Waves, Radiation,and Materials3
PHYS 142Applied Solid State Physics3
PHYS 145Optics 43
PHYS 150Quantum Mechanics3
PHYS 151Advanced Modern Physics3
PHYS 156Classical and Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 162Scientific Computing: Basic Methods3
PHYS 163Scientific Computing: Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization3
PHYS 195Teaching Internship1 - 2
PHYS 196 Series
PHYS 197Laboratory Teaching Assistant1 - 2
PHYS 199Special Problems1 - 3
ASTR 150Dark Matter and Dark Energy3
MATH 105BAdvanced Mathematics for Science and Engineering II4

General Education Requirements1

Area A: Basic Subjects (9 Units)
A1 - Oral Communication3
A2 - Written Communication3
A3 - Critical Thinking 33
Area B: Physical Universe and Its Life Forms (3 Units)
B1 - Physical Science 20
B2 - Life Forms 20
B3 - Lab (Note: Lab experience to be taken with one of the following: B1, B2 or B5) 20
B4 - Math Concepts 20
B5 - Additional Course (Any B to reach 12 units) - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area C: Arts and Humanities (12 Units)
C1 - Arts3
C2 - Humanities3
C1/C2 - Area C Course3
C1/C2 - Area C Course - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area D: The Individual and Society (9 Units)
Area D Course3
Area D Course3
Area D Course - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area E: Understanding Personal Development (3 Units)
Area E Course3
Area F: Ethnic Studies (3 Units)
Area F Course3
Total Units39

Graduation Requirements1

Graduation Requirements (required by CSU) (9 Units)
American Institutions: U.S. History3
American Institutions: U.S. Constitution & CA Government3
Writing Intensive (WI)3
Graduation Requirements (required by Sacramento State) (12 Units)
English Composition II3
Race and Ethnicity in American Society (RE)3
Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement 26