Christian Higher Education Since 1892

Academics - Physics

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Physics attempts to develop a basic understanding of all forms of matter and energy. Today’s society needs persons trained in physics in order to maintain a high level of technology in our society. Physics uses mathematical techniques to describe processes and develops new ideas that are given to engineers for implementation. The Physics Department strives to give the student an understanding of the basic physical principles and show how these principles are adapted to many types of employment opportunities in our society.

For those majoring in physics, the department is prepared to meet the needs of three groups: students who plan to teach high school physics, students who plan to go on to graduate school in physics, and students who expect to go to work in a government or industrial laboratory following graduation. Students may choose to complete either a B.A degree or a B.S. degree. Students qualifying for the B.A degree must fulfill the Foreign Language requirements as outlined in the General Education guidelines. Students qualifying for the B.S degree must complete 4 - 8 credit hours of a practicum centered on a research experience.

The prospective high school teacher should plan to complete a major of ten courses before the semester of teaching experience. The additional coursework includes one semester of PHY 402 Senior Physics Lab and PHY 350 Science Curriculum Projects.

Students planning to enter graduate school in physics should take the same curriculum as the prospective high school teacher through the junior year. During their senior year, students engage in independent study with the guidance of their professors. Part of this independent study should include laboratory investigation of a research nature. Currently the department offers research experience in atomic and nuclear physics. Students may engage in on-campus work with faculty using the department’s ion accelerator and other major equipment. Students may also become involved with the research Greenville College is doing in collaboration with the Gammasphere group at Argonne National Lab. Another option is to participate in the NSF-sponsored REU program which provides summer research experiences for undergraduates at various sites off-campus. Students who choose an REU for their practica credit should participate in this program the summer prior to their senior year.

Students interested in working in government or industrial laboratories should complete the core curriculum. During the senior year the program will be independent in nature. It will differ from the graduate school-bound student preparation in that their independent work will be less theoretical and shall include shop and laboratory techniques as well as special laboratory projects.

Greenville College offers an Engineering 3/2 program through a cooperative agreement with two top-notch engineering schools; the University of Illinois and Washington University in St. Louis. This five year program results in a bachelor of arts from Greenville and a bachelor of science in Engineering from the cooperating school. Successful completion of Greenville’s engineering program, with an appropriate GPA, guarantees admission to top quality engineering schools for the remaining two years. Check the index under Engineering 3/2 for curriculum information.

Graduates of the physics program have gone into one of the three careers as outlined above. About one-third have gone into high school and college teaching, and one-third have taken positions in government or industrial laboratories. Over half of the graduates have taken graduate work in physics and one-sixth have completed Ph.D. programs. A study of physics majors during the years 1974-2004 indicates 81 graduates, all of whom entered graduate school or obtained employment in their chosen field.

All three introductory courses are calculus based. Students may enroll in PHY 120 and MTH 115 Calculus I concurrently. Concepts involving calculus are developed early in the PHY 120 textbook and in the course so students can handle the topics that are discussed. Those students with high school physics as a background start the physics sequence with PHY 120. Physics majors, pre-engineers, and prospective secondary school teachers should complete the entire three course physics sequence.


Majors & Minors


Physics Education Major
The Physics Education major requirements include 33 credits in physics, 26 credits in chemistry, computer science, and mathematics, and 46 hours of professional studies in education.
Physics Major
The physics major requirements include 33-37 credits in physics and 26 credits in chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. The physics major can lead to either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree.

Engineering 3/2 Emphasis: Physics Major
For nearly 50 years, our Engineering 3/2 students have seen great success at two of the best engineering schools in the country. Greenville College offers a unique program that allows students to earn a Physics degree from Greenville College along with an Engineering degree from the University of Illinois or Washington University. Formalized 3-2 plans have been in place with the University of Illinois for over 45 years and with Washington University for over a decade. Almost every student who has transferred to either of these institutions under the 3-2 plan has successfully completed their engineering degree. A physics degree from GC is also awarded when the engineering degree is complete. Students attend school for five years, but earn two degrees. The pre-engineering student must complete the same general education credits as required for any science major. A foreign language is required.


Physics Minor
Physics attempts to develop a basic understanding of all forms of matter and energy. Today's society needs persons trained in physics in order to maintain a high level of technology in our society. Physics uses mathematical techniques to describe processes and develops new ideas that are given to engineers for implementation. The Physics Department strives to give the student an understanding of the basic physical principles and show how these principles are adapted to many types of employment opportunities in our society. For a Physics Minor you will be required to take at least 20 credits in the Physics department.

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