Physics

Physics, Secondary Education—BA, BS

As a future teacher, you know not every student learns or thinks the same. In the university setting, this means providing students with as many options as possible for obtaining their degree. 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 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 disciplines—granting more options to those who identify their calling to become a teacher partway into their college career.

"The physics secondary education program has allowed me to work in small settings with teachers to really help me understand what is important about teaching. I have been given many opportunities to use my knowledge and skills within an actual classroom setting. I am excited to be a physics teacher because I want to inspire students to become interested in science and the application of science."Robert '18, physics–secondary education

Through specialized studies in physics at Michigan Tech, you 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.

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 a governmental agency. You will also be prepared for graduate school or positions in other STEM fields.

Get involved in research. Undergraduate students have opportunities to work with faculty on a variety of research projects. Students are paired with a faculty member for a minimum of two semesters of research, but students frequently exceed this degree requirement by taking advantage of the department's many opportunities for continued research. We take pride in providing hands-on education; undergraduate research experiences are just one of the many teaching-learning experiences in our program.

The physics department prides itself on a sense of collegiality. This comes not only from faculty-student mentoring but also 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 post-graduation success.

Physics in a group image at CERN sign
Physics students inside the European Laboratory for Particle Physics; Geneva, Switzerland, CERN.

Get Involved

Students broaden their degree experience by working directly with the physics department staff and faculty. Opportunities include working as an academic coach to students in the Physics Learning Center, design and execute real-world, textbook concept demos for classrooms on the Demonstration Crew, become a teaching assistant in labs, and work side-by-side with faculty on cutting-edge research projects.

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 develop into successful members of the professional physics community.

After Graduation

Our graduates have found jobs with the following companies and agencies:

  • Argonne National Lab Chicago
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Lab
  • Dow Corning

Our graduates have been accepted at the following graduate schools:

  • Michigan State University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center
  • Oregon Health and Science University

Program Learning Goals

We expect that all physics majors will finish their program of study as well-rounded critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Graduates will be prepared to successfully compete for and perform in graduate study or professional work in physics, engineering, education, or related fields.

Physics—BA with Secondary Education Certification

The Bachelor of Arts in physics with secondary-education teacher 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, compared to the BS version, may allow students to seek additional certifications, or to seek this major as second degree. Specific learning goals for graduates with a BA degree in applied physics include:

  • 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)
  • Students will be able to carry out basic laboratory work in physics
  • Students will be highly competent high school physics teachers
  • Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing

Physics—BS with Secondary Education Certification

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. Specific learning goals for graduates with a BS degree in physics with secondary teaching certification include:

  • 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)
  • Students will be able to carry out basic and advanced laboratory work in physics
  • Students will be highly competent high school physics teachers
  • Students will effectively communicate scientific work both orally and in writing