Major Pathways



Who is this major targeted to? The Physics pathway is meant to fulfill a broad group of students rather than a specialized group. Meaning the pathway focuses on fundamentals within physics.
What advantages does this major have? The Physics B.S. offers a clear set of skills useful for pursuing a continued degree in graduate education.

What disadvantages does this major have?

Students who choose this pathway are restricted in their elective offering to only include PHYS code classes within the department.
How is this major used? Students who have graduated with a Physics B.S. have gone on to various industry, utilizing their teachings to help problem solve. There is no inherent restriction to the type of work available.


Physics (Astrophysics)

Who is this major targeted to? The Astrophysics pathway is for those wanting to go into the field of astronomy and astrophysics. It has a specialized outline of courses to help prepare students for the area of work.

What advantages does this major have?

Students in this pathway have the option of taking ASTR courses in addition to the PHYS elective courses offered.
What disadvantages does this major have? Uncertain
How is this major used? Uncertain



Applied Physics

Who is this major targeted to?

Who is this major targeted to?

This major is the ideal choice for any student who expects to enter industry upon graduation, or is considering adding a Master's degree in applied physics, engineering, or computer science to their career preparation.

What advantages does this major have?

offering a much wider range of choices for upper-division elective courses, including many in engineering and other departments.

How is this major used?

Traditional Applied Physics careers involve the use of physics expertise to develop new devices and technologies that are not accessible using current tools available to engineers. But this degree is also useful for students who expect to switch entirely into the worlds of engineering, computer science, data analytics, or even finance, and want the broad and widely-respected training in general problem-solving that comes with a physics background.


Science Education

Twenty-first century science educators must be able to help their students develop and apply a scientific perspective to a wide range of information. The science education major is designed to prepare future secondary science teachers in California with a broad background across the sciences—the physical sciences, life sciences, Earth sciences, and space sciences—with advanced specialization in two fields of science (chosen from physics, chemistry, biology, and Earth sciences). The major integrates education coursework and middle and high school classroom internships designed to develop skills and knowledge relevant to teaching K-12 students in the state of California. The major is mainly intended to prepare students for teacher certification programs and the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), so that they can teach science in California high schools. 

Cal Teach is one home base for all students in this major, no matter the choices for specialization. Cal Teach (CaT) provides the required sequence of middle and high school-based internships and associated courses in partnership with schools throughout Santa Cruz County. Each internship placement depends on school schedules and the intern’s schedule, interests, and academic preparation. The CaT seminar courses provide the framework for science education majors to develop classroom-management strategies, practice communicating scientific concepts for non-specialists (children), and design lessons to teach the science standards currently used in K-12 education. Departmental advising is provided by the Physics Department and the program faculty.

The program is designed to prepare outstanding candidates to enter teaching credential programs after completion. Students earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. They do not earn a teaching credential. Most students elect to complete this after graduation. Details of how to prepare for admission to a teaching credential program are available on the Education Department's Careers in K-12 School Teaching page.