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Academic Program Guide

Physical Science

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

Contact: Brian Wilcoxon
Address: 307 Keen Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4350
Phone: (850) 644-3245

Description of Major
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 and Astrophysics, and Physical Science/FSU-Teach.

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

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, chemistry, and mathematics course.


Departmental Policy on Grades and Continuation in the Major
A student who has received more than five unsatisfactory grades (U, F, D minus, D, D+) in courses required for the Physical Science major, whether offered by the Department of Physics at Florida State University or elsewhere, whether or not repeated, will not be permitted to graduate with a degree in this major. No physics, chemistry, computer science, geology, meteorology, 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 43 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 computer skills competency course selected from the following (3 hours)
PHZ 4151C (3) Computational Physics Laboratory
COP 3014(3) Programming I
ISC 3313 (3) Introduction to Scientific Computing

3. Additional required courses; select nine (9) courses from the following list (at least 27 hours)
MAC 2313 (5) Calculus III
MAP 2302 (3) Ordinary Differential Equations or MAP 3305 (3) Engineering Math I
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 A
PHZ 3113 (3) Mathematical Physics
PHZ 3400 (3) Condensed Matter Physics
PHZ 4390 (3) Particle and Nuclear Physics
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
GLY 2100 and 2100L (3,1) Historical Geology and 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, and Mathematics may also satisfy this requirement. Please speak with a Physics advisor to see if particular courses satisfy the requirement.

Collateral coursework: (16 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
CHM 1045, 1045L (3,1) General Chemistry I, Lab or CHM 1050, 1050L Honors General Chemistry I, Lab
CHM 1046, 1046L (3,1) General Chemistry II, Lab or CHM 1051, 1051L Honors General Chemistry II, Lab

Minor Coursework: A minor is required for the Physical Science major. No coursework for the minor can overlap with courses used to satisfy the major, General Education, or foreign language requirements, but collateral coursework may be used. For a list of all FSU approved minors, go to

Computer Skills Competency: (0 hours beyond major requirements)
PHZ 4151C (3), COP 3014 (3), or ISC 3313 (3) fulfills the requirement for this major.

Oral Communication Competency: (0-3 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 43
Collateral coursework: 16
Computer Skills: 0 beyond major
Oral Competency: 0 beyond major
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: National Association of Colleges and Employers, Occupational Outlook Handbook

Representative Job Titles Related to this Major: Health Physicist, Chemical Physicist, Radiation Safety Officer, Community College Teacher, Biophysicist, High School Teacher, Geophysicist, Scientific Sales Representative, Environmental Scientist, Computer Systems Analyst, Consultant, Technical Writer, Nuclear Technician.

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