Physics, BA

Degree: Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Major: Physics

Program Overview

The mission of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics is to provide an education in fundamental areas of physics, including classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermal physics/statistical mechanics, and laboratory, data analysis and computational skills, while offering maximum flexibility to pursue other interests. Compared to the BS degree, there are 27 fewer required credit hours of physics courses, including 3 fewer advanced laboratory courses. This makes the BA degree particularly attractive to students who wish to combine a study of physics with the pursuit of other interests or customize their physics degree with courses of their own choosing. Such students often complete a second major in the arts, humanities or social sciences and they may apply to a professional program in medicine, law or business after completing their BA. Understanding the scientific enterprise can be crucial in business, finance, medicine, law, the media, literature, the arts, general education, government, and any number of other pursuits.

The required physics courses provide exposure to a broad range of physical phenomena as well as training in the scientific method, techniques of problem solving, data analysis, quantitative approaches to physical problems, and experimental procedures.  Although less intense than the BS program, the BA program can, with a judicious choice of electives, provide an excellent preparation for graduate study in physics. At the same time, a reduced requirement for technical courses in the physics BA program provides an opportunity to explore other disciplines in depth. 

The first year is very similar for BA and BS students, the only differences being that the BA student has a wider choice of non-physics science electives and may choose to take the introductory physics and math courses designed for life science students. BA majors who choose to do their capstone through the Department of Physics have worked on a wide variety of topics with mentors from departments across campus and even off-campus.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermal physics/statistical mechanics and other topics needed for a career in physics.
  • Students will be able to carry out experiments, take measurements and analyze data to support or refute a scientific hypothesis.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the methods of scientific inquiry, including critical thinking and problem-solving, and be able to formulate and solve quantitative problems using computational and analytical methods.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in communicating scientific concepts and results orally and in writing in styles appropriate to proposals, reports and formal publications.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of professional standards and ethics.

Teacher Licensure

Case Western Reserve University offers licensure programs in music education and art education as degree programs in each of those departments.  Additionally, CWRU’s Teacher Education Program offers a licensure track for students who wish to pursue a teaching career in their content area in grades 7-12 Adolescent to Young Adult.  Licensure areas are: English Language Arts (English major), Integrated Social Studies (history major), Integrated Mathematics (math major), Life Science (biology major), Physical Science (chemistry major), or Physical Science (physics major).  A Multi-Age license in grades PreK-12 is available in French, Spanish or Latin. Students must fulfill the degree requirements for their primary major and declare Teacher Education as a second major. The Teacher Education major consists of 36 hours in education, including a student teaching semester.  The program places students in mentored teaching situations at every stage of their training, capitalizing on the relationships the university has built with area schools.

For the subject area requirements for teacher licensure, please visit the program page for Teacher Education, BA.

Undergraduate Policies

For undergraduate policies and procedures, please review the Undergraduate Academics section of the General Bulletin.

Accelerated Master's Programs

Undergraduate students may participate in accelerated programs toward graduate or professional degrees. For more information and details of the policies and procedures related to accelerated studies, please visit the Undergraduate Academics section of the General Bulletin.