Physical Science Courses and Classes Overview

Courses in physical science can be found in virtually every college major as a general education requirement. Take a look at some of the sample majors and read descriptions of some of the physical sciences classes.

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Essential Information

The interdisciplinary field of physical science combines studies in math, medicine, environmental science, chemistry and geology. Through these courses, students explore the world around them to understand non-living systems. Physical science courses are available through undergraduate and graduate degree programs in chemistry, physics and the earth sciences, which include geology, oceanography and meteorology. Many physical science classes are introductory, but some related topics like astronomy and applied physics require math prerequisites.

List of Courses

Read the descriptions of physical science courses usually included in an undergraduate and graduate degree program.

Contemporary Topics in the Physical Sciences

Students with a limited background in the sciences may consider courses that address a physical science from a conceptual and modern perspective. Students in these courses learn the basics of many areas of physical science, including astronomy, physics, geology and chemistry. These very basic courses are designed to prepare students for the successful completion of beginner-level courses in the physical sciences.

Introduction to Physical Science

Introductory courses in physical science are designed for non-science majors as well as those pursuing a career in a scientific capacity. Students in these courses study the theoretical and empirical evidence in physical science that give researchers an understanding of how the universe works. Labs are performed to give students a hands-on demonstration of the laws of physics, chemistry and more.

General Astronomy

In an intermediate course in astronomy, students build on the principles acquired in introductory physical science courses. The course includes applied trigonometry so students can determine mathematical equations relating to the expanding universe, star sizes and the speeds of sound and light. In addition, professors provide information about the evolution and formation of planets, stars and the solar system. Physical science classes in astronomy put the size of the world and knowledge of it into perspective, and students discuss how the Earth is affected by outside influences.

Physics for Teachers

Teachers of physics at a middle or high school level must be able to demonstrate complex laws using materials that teenagers understand. A teacher-focused physics course is typically part of a graduate curriculum or continuing education seminar for education majors. Students learn to explain laws of physics, such as gravity, optics, magnetism and energy, using simple tools. Future teachers also gain practice using technology like computers that will further students' understanding of physics.

General Chemistry

A core physical science course, general chemistry includes an introduction to the Earth's elements. The lecture part of the course explains fundamental chemistry concepts; in the lab portion of the course, students run experiments to illustrate basic chemistry concepts. Students learn to use lab equipment, along with honing their chemistry lab skills.

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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Forestry and Wildlands Management
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
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    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
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    • Physical Sciences
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physics
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    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Physical Sciences
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Physics

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