The Distinguishing Characteristics of Our Graduates

Department of Physics
California State University, Chico

Our Graduates Benefit From Our Spirit of Community
A low student/faculty ratio and a faculty deeply committed to the success of our majors make our program special. We treat our students as full members of our "community of scholars." Our chapter of the Society of Physics Students has consistently been one of the most active in the western United States. They establish a community spirit that affects our entire program. SPS members volunteer as tutors for over 450 hours per year, provide science demonstrations for the community and support and encourage undergraduate research experiences such as internships. Our chapter of SPS has won seventeen Outstanding Chapter Awards from the national organization.

Our Graduates Meet The Professional Demands Of The Twenty-First Century.
The most striking feature of our graduates is that their success after completing our program is comparable to many other more prestigious physics programs. We have graduated 128 students in our 40 year history. We are still in contact with 66 of them. Of these, 39 have earned higher degrees and 10 are still in graduate school. These results are higher than the overall percentage of physics graduates from all universities.

Employment category CSUC Graduates All Graduates
Industry 64% 63%
Military 4% 8%
High School Teaching 11% 8%
College/University 9% 9%
Government 9% 9%
Other 4% 3%

The employment status of our former students who do not pursue or have completed graduate study is also remarkably consistent with overall averages.

We believe that our small classes and laboratories actually taught directly by our Ph.D. faculty, not teaching assistants, allow us to serve the individual needs of our students and are the primary reasons for the success of our graduates.

Our Graduates Have a Broad Diversity of Careers
The grand majority of our students have chosen career paths that are typical for physics graduates such as government or university scientists and researchers, computer specialists, and industrial scientists and technicians. Our graduates have also demonstrated the ability to thrive across many disciplines. Our first graduate is the CEO of a major corporation. Another graduate is currently a forest ranger using his physics training to help the California Department of Forestry to use satellite data to manage resources. Yet another graduate is self-employed as a vineyard consultant. His technical expertise is used to solve problems encountered by grape farmers. In addition, five of our graduates are high school teachers, including one that is a principal. We will dramatically increase this number soon.

Our Graduates Will Address the Chronic Need for High School Science Teachers
Over the last decade, the proportion of high school students who take physics has risen substantially, from about 20% to 28%. At the same time, only about one-third of high school physics teachers have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in physics (22%) or physics education (11%). We have recently adopted a second option in our major. The "General Physics" degree is specifically designed to meet the criteria of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for students that want to become high school physics teachers. Our goal is to develop the highest quality high school physics teachers in the state of California.
October 1999