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Physics, Secondary Education—BA, BS

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If you’re ready to share your knowledge and love of physics with tomorrow’s learners and problem solvers, then a physics degree from Michigan Technological University—combined with a concentration in secondary education—will set you up for success.

With an ever-increasing demand for students who excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, the need for teachers who can elucidate these complex content areas has never been greater.

Through your specialized studies in physics at Michigan Tech, you will be able to concurrently complete additional course work in preparation for secondary-education teacher certification in the state of Michigan. You will also earn a required minor in biology, chemistry, computer science, Earth science, economics, English, integrated science, mathematics, or social studies, allowing you to teach in more than one subject area.

BA Versus BS

As a future teacher, you know that not every student thinks the same. In the university setting, this means providing our students with as many options as possible for obtaining their degree. Now, you can earn either a BA or a BS in Physics with a concentration in secondary education.

Students opting to study the BS track will take more physics requirements than BA students, serving to solidify their understanding of complex concepts. BA students have more flexibility in scheduling so that they may further enhance their teaching skills or expertise by exploring other fields more deeply.

The BA option, which offers more free electives, allows students to smoothly transfer into physics from other University disciplines—granting more options to those who identify their calling to become a teacher partway into their college career.

About the Program

  • Students in the physics secondary education program complete a BA or BS in Physics, a teaching minor in a secondary field, and one semester of student teaching. Students graduate from Michigan Tech prepared to be certified by the state of Michigan to become a secondary-level educator.
  • Following graduation, you can teach in public or private high schools and middle schools, become a researcher, or work for governmental agencies. You will also be prepared for graduate school or positions in other STEM fields.
  • The physics department prides itself on a sense of collegiality. This comes not only from faculty-student mentoring, but also from peer-to-peer support. With such a small undergraduate community (typically 25 students per incoming class), students quickly become an integral part of the department’s culture.
  • Students are exposed to many disciplines within physics throughout their undergraduate career, which greatly increases postgraduation success. Our faculty has research expertise in
    • astrophysics;
    • atmospheric physics;
    • computational physics;
    • experimental physics; and
    • computational biophysics.
  • The department also offers or significantly supports minors in
    • astrophysics;
    • nanoscale science and engineering (nanotechnology);
    • physics; and
    • remote sensing.
  • First-year physics students automatically become members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Physics Students—a national professional organization designed to help students transform themselves into successful members of the professional physics community.

Program Learning Goals—BA in Physics, Secondary Education

The Bachelor of Arts in Physics with Secondary Teaching certification is intended for students pursuing a career teaching physics high school. Secondary teaching certification in Michigan also requires that students pursue a teaching minor in another discipline, such as mathematics, for which they would also become certified to teach. The extra flexibility of this major as compared to the B.S. version may allow students to seek additional certifications, or to seek this major as second degree.

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study equipped as well-rounded critical thinkers and life-long learners. They will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields. Specific learning goals for graduates with a B.A. degree in Applied Physics include:

Goal 1 Students will demonstrate a foundational knowledge of the fundamental concepts and principles of the major areas of physics (e.g. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and thermal physics)
Goal 2 Students will be able to carry out basic laboratory work in physics.
Goal 3 Students will be highly competent high school physics teachers.
Goal 4 Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing.

Program Learning Goals—BS in Physics, Secondary Education

The Bachelor of Science in Physics with Secondary Teaching certification is intended for students pursuing a career teaching physics high school. Secondary teaching certification in Michigan also requires that students pursue a teaching minor in another discipline, such as mathematics, for which they would also become certified to teach.

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study equipped as well-rounded critical thinkers and life-long learners. They will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields. Specific learning goals for graduates with a B.S. degree in Physics with Secondary Teaching Certification include:

Goal 1 Students will demonstrate a mastery of the fundamental concepts and principles of the major areas of physics (e.g. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and thermal physics)
Goal 2 Students will be able to carry out basic and advanced laboratory work in physics.
Goal 3 Students will be highly competent high school physics teachers.
Goal 4 Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing.

Undergraduate Employment

There are many undergraduate employment opportunities within the department.

  • Work in the Physics Learning Center, where you act as an academic coach to fellow Michigan Tech students.
  • Join the demonstration crew—helping to dream up (and set up) real-world demos of textbook concepts for classrooms.
  • Assist in undergraduate physics labs as a teaching assistant.
  • Work side-by-side with faculty members on their research projects.