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Academic Program Guide

Physical Science

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree: BS
Limited Access: No

Contact: Antonio Valencia
Address: Keen Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4350
Phone: (850) 644-3245

Description of Major

*Please Note: Face-to-face/in-person instruction of this program is available ONLY at the main campus in Tallahassee, FL. This program is NOT available via Online/Distance Learning.*

The physical sciences play a central role in our understanding of nature and the technologies that serve our society. The Physical Science degree program provides students with opportunities to explore the natural and technological worlds broadly, from the Earth and space sciences to modern physics, computer science and mathematics. The Physical Science degree provides a strong foundation in quantitative skills that prepare a student for employment in entry-level scientific and technical jobs, and postgraduate work in a variety of fields.

The FSU Physics Department also offers majors in Physics, Physics& Astrophysics, and Physics & Materials.

Prerequisite Coursework

Prerequisite Coursework: (0 beyond other requirements)
Students must complete the following prerequisites required for admission in preparation for the upper division major. All of the following may also apply toward major and/or General Education requirements.

MAC X311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC X312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC X313 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III
*CHM X045, X045L (3,1) General Chemistry I, Lab (or equivalent)
*CHM X046, X046L (3,1) General Chemistry II, Lab
PHY X048C (5) General Physics A
PHY X049C (5) General Physics B

*Chemistry I and II are State of Florida “common prerequisites,” but are not required for this major at FSU. Both may be used to satisfy the “Additional Required Courses” requirement.

Note: State-wide common prerequisites are always under review. For the most current information and for acceptable alternative courses, visit the “Common Prerequisites Manual.” This is available from the “Student Services” section of .


Requirements for graduation in the College of Arts and Sciences include:
The College of Arts and Science requires proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate (2220 or equivalent) level or sign language through the advanced (2614 or equivalent) level.

Requirements for Progression to the Upper-Division Major
To be admitted, students must complete at least 52 hours of credit with an adjusted GPA of 2.00 on FSU coursework and at least half the hours required in General Education, including English composition and mathematics. Students must earn a minimum grade of C minus or higher in each required physics and mathematics course.

Departmental Policy on Grades and Continuation in the Major
No physics, chemistry, computer science, geology, meteorology, scientific computing, engineering, or math course with a grade below C minus may be used to satisfy the requirements for this major.

Major Program of Studies at FSU: (at least 51 hours)

1. All of the following Physics courses (13 hours)
PHY 2048C (5) General Physics A
PHY 2049C (5) General Physics B
PHY 3101 (3) Intermediate Modern Physics

2. At least one Digital Literacy course selected from the following (3 hours)
COP 3014 (3) Programming I
COP 3363 (3) Introduction to Programming in C++ for Majors

3. Additional required courses; select eleven (11) courses from the following list (at least 35 hours)
MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations
MAS 3105 (3) Applied Linear Algebra I
AST 4211 (3) Introduction to Astrophysics
PHY 3045 (3) Physics Problem Solving
PHY 3221 (3) Mechanics I
PHY 3424 (3) Optics
PHY 3802L (2) Intermediate Laboratory or AST 3721L Astrophysics Laboratory
PHZ 3113 (3) Mathematical Physics
PHZ 4400 (3) Condensed Matter Physics
PHZ 4390 (3) Particle and Nuclear Physics
CHM 1045 and CHM 1045L (3,1) General Chemistry I with Lab [both must be taken]
CHM 1046 and CHM 1046L (3,1) General Chemistry II with Lab [both must be taken]
CHM 2200 and 2200L (3,1) Survey of Organic Chemistry and Lab or CHM 2210 (3) Organic Chemistry I
CHM 3120 and 3120L (3,1) Introduction to Analytical Chemistry and Lab
CHM 3400 (4) General Physical Chemistry
COP 3014 (3) Programming I (unless already used to satisfy the computer skills competency requirement)
COP 3330 (3) Object Oriented Programming
COP 3353 (1) Introduction to Unix
GLY 2010C (4) Physical Geology
ESC 3100C (4) History of Earth Systems (includes lab)
GLY 3200C (3) Mineralogy and Crystallography
MET 2101 (3) Physical Climatology
MET 2700 (3) General Meteorology
MET 3300 (3) Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics

Note: Other upper-division courses in Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geology, Meteorology, Scientific Computing, and Mathematics may also satisfy this requirement. Please speak with a Physics advisor to see if particular courses satisfy the requirement.

Collateral coursework: (13 hours)
Majors must complete the courses listed below. As collateral courses, these may be used to satisfy General Education or minor requirements. If not, they must be taken in addition to other requirements.

MAC 2311 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC 2312 (4) Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC 2313 (5) Calculus with Analytic Geometry III

Minor Coursework: At least 12 hours from an approved minor area or 15 hours from an approved interdepartmental minor or requirements as stated by the minor area. The required mathematics courses constitute a minor.

Digital Literacy: (0 hours beyond major requirements)
COP 3014 (3) or COP 3363 (3) fulfills the requirement for this major.

Oral Communication Competency: (3 hours)
Students must demonstrate the ability to orally transmit ideas and information clearly. This requirement may be met with an approved college-level course.

Minimum Program Requirements - Summary
Total Hrs. Required: 120
General Education: 36*
Prerequisite courses: 0 beyond other requirements
Major coursework: at least 51
Collateral coursework: 13
Digital Literacy: 0 beyond major
Oral Competency: 3
Foreign Language: 0-12 (depending on placement)
Electives to bring total hours to 120

*NOTE: Required coursework may often apply toward more than one area (for instance, collateral and major courses may also apply toward Liberal Studies). Students who begin college prepared to start with calculus will have a greater number of hours available for electives.


Mapping is FSU’s academic advising and monitoring system. Academic progress is monitored each Fall and Spring semester to ensure that students are on course to earn their degree in a timely fashion. Transfer students must meet mapping guidelines to be accepted into their majors. You may view the map for this major at


1. A minimum of 45 hours at the 3000 level or above, 30 of which must be taken at this University.
2. Half of the major course semester hours must be completed in residence at this University.
3. The final 30 hours must be completed in residence at this University.

Employment Information

Salary Information:For more information go to: National Association of Colleges and Employers ( or the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Representative Job Titles Related to this Major: Radiation Safety Officer, High School Teacher, Scientific Sales Representative, Environmental Scientist, Computer Systems Analyst, Consultant, Technical Writer.

Representative Employers: Hospitals, Community Colleges, Manufacturers, School Boards, Utility Companies, Research and Development Firms, Electronic Firms, Governmental Agencies, Petroleum Companies, Engineering Firms.

View Physical Science Academic Map