Jun 15, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Applied Physics, General Option, B.S.

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Program of Study

Physics is a study of matter and its interaction at the fundamental level. Physicists seek to measure, understand, model, and control the processes in the physical world around us. To this end, physicists use a variety of descriptive and quantitative techniques to represent their knowledge. Furthermore, this work is conducted in a community where collaboration, teaching, and communication of results are essential. Applied physics makes a connection between fundamental research in physics and its application to real-world problem-solving. Research in applied physics has led to the use of electricity and magnetism for lighting and propulsion, given birth to the semiconductor industry that has provided us with the conveniences of modern electronics, and played an important part in the development of biomedical technology. While engineers have perfected many of these inventions, applied physicists have been responsible for their discovery.

The degree in applied physics prepares students to succeed in a wide range of entry-level positions in the high technology and biotechnology industry by giving them a broad and rigorous grounding in the principles of physics, while at the same time emphasizing the application of physics to real-world problems.

Degree recipients will also be prepared for graduate study in physics, engineering, or related fields; as well as careers in physics teaching.

Applied physics baccalaureate-level graduates will have unique critical thinking and problem-solving abilities that will be valuable to employers in a wide range of technical fields.

The Applied Physics Degree requires the completion of 120 semester units in one of two options, Applied Physics or Applied Electronics, each of which allows students to focus on a particular area of interest. Both options will provide opportunities for student research in collaboration with faculty in the Physics Department. These undergraduate research opportunities will provide valuable training that will make graduates more competitive in the job market.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics will be able to:

  1. Carry out the process of scientific investigation, using appropriate lab techniques and safety procedures.
  2. Apply mathematical techniques to represent, model, and solve physics problems, including real-world problems.
  3. Write simple computer programs that control scientific experiments, gather physical data, and model or simulate physical processes.
  4. Apply specific knowledge in the areas of mechanics, electromagnetism, thermal physics, and quantum phenomena to problem solve in these fields and to real-world applications.
  5. Design, troubleshoot, and test analog and digital electronic circuits for real-world applications.
  6. Keep a laboratory notebook and know how to present scientific information as a technical article, as a formal journal article, or as a public oral presentation.


Freshman applicants must complete a comprehensive program of college preparatory study totaling between 25 and 28 units, depending on the option chosen. Transfer students entering at the junior and senior level should have completed the equivalent required physics and supporting courses elsewhere. All courses taken for the major, including supporting courses, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Degree Requirements

Either option for the Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics requires the completion of 120 semester units. As a part of each option, students are required to complete 48 units of General Education courses. Six (6) to nine (9) units of lower-division General Education , including the laboratory requirement in Area B (Math and Science), are automatically satisfied by combinations of CHEM 150 , CS 111 , MATH 160 , and PHYS 201 . The exact number of units satisfied in this way will depend on the option chosen. A minimum of eighteen (18) units in Physics must be completed at Cal State San Marcos.

Applied Physics

This option is intended for those students interested in pursuing graduate study, a career in teaching physics, or a career in industry involving the application of the principles of physics.

General Education (48 Units)

General Education Requirements  

Preparation for the Applied Physics Option (40 Units)


† These courses supporting the preparation or electives in the major may satisfy the Mathematics and Physical Science requirements of General Education.

Option Requirements (35 Units)


* PHYS 380  or PHYS 480  may be chosen as an elective, if it has not already been taken as part of the upper-division core.

Students may also take up to six (6) units of elective courses in another major in the natural or mathematical sciences, chosen in consultation with and approved by the Physics Academic Advisor prior to taking the course.

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120

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