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Schools Switched major to physics, current university's department is near non-existent.

  1. Jan 14, 2013 #1
    I've run into a big problem switching my major from civil engineering to physics and am in need of some advice. I'm currently on my first semester of physics, however the problem is that I don't think i'm at the right place. I just received an email saying that I am the only one in my university planning to major in physics this semester and that the Thermal Physics class is in jeopardy of being cancelled permanently. This being said I'm unsure which universities have adequate physics departments. I currently have a 3.3 GPA and live in Ohio. Should I consider transferring and if so what schools do I have a shot at being accepted to. Thank you for your future comments and help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2013 #2
    I can't help you with suggestions as to where to transfer, but I'd agree it's something you should seriously consider doing, especially if your goal is graduate school. If your school can't even sustain an introductory thermal physics class, I can't imagine they'll be able to offer much in the way of the more advanced physics topics you will need.
  4. Jan 14, 2013 #3
    Have you looked through the websites of physics departments at different universities? I had two classmates in grad school that came from Ohio in undergrad, one from Ohio State and one from Miami. They each were involved in undergraduate research so I presume each have an active physics department.
  5. Jan 14, 2013 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    [Full disclosure: I am on faculty at Cleveland State (Ohio), which has a small Physics department]

    We face this issue somewhat regularly- the Dean's office is where the decision to keep or drop an under-enrolled class is made. Note, we have not canceled any class 'permanently' (so I know you don't go to CSU), and canceling a major-required class *permanently* means the Department may be closing (temporarily or not) the major itself.

    First, since you didn't say who sent the email (program director? chair? other?), you should find the faculty member in charge of undergraduate programs and have a frank discussion about your future in the Department. From there, you have some choices: you can go to the Dean (I would stop by the Chair on the way) and lobby to have the course taught in order for you to graduate on time. You have some leverage given the current push to increase graduation and retention rates in Ohio.

    Alternatively, if you are a State school you can fairly easily transfer to another State school. You probably have to apply, but it's my understanding that you do not have a high barrier to cross in order to get into another State college- your admissions office and academic advising center can help you with that process.
  6. Jan 14, 2013 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    You should definitely try to find out about the future status of the physics major at your school. Thermodynamics is generally considered to be one of the core courses in an undergraduate physics degree, along with classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Discontinuing the course completely is not good for the major as a whole, unless maybe they're going to substitute one of the engineering courses for it. A physics thermo course is usually rather different from an engineering thermo course, though.
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