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September  05, 2008

Augustana among top in number of physics grads

Augustana College ranks high in the number of students it graduates in physics, according to the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

The AIP's most recent "Enrollments and Degrees Report" includes Augustana in its list of the top 35 bachelor's-granting departments averaging 10 or more physics bachelor's degrees per year for the classes of 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Augustana was tied for 22nd in the survey with 11 graduates. First on the list was California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo with 24 graduates.

Dr. Cecilia J. Vogel of the Augustana Department of Physics and Astronomy  attributed some of the success of Augustana's program to its flexibility.

"Our majors may go on to careers in engineering, technology, medicine, teaching, and other fields, or they may continue their studies with graduate work in physics or related fields," she said. "An Augustana physics major gives students knowledge and skills that can be applied in many areas in many ways."

According to the report for the most recent year counted, "The 5,113 physics bachelor's in the class of 2005 represents the sixth consecutive year of increase, resulting in an overall gain of 40% from a recent low in 1999."

The AIP cited increases in the number and proportion of high school students taking physics, particularly the number taking Advanced Placement physics. "The likelihood of an individual majoring in physics is much greater if he or she has taken a physics course while in high school, and this is especially true for AP physics takers," the report said.

Looking at the number of juniors enrolled as physics majors and predicted increases in the college age population for the next few years, the AIP predicted the rise in physics degrees will continue.

The complete report, which also examines graduate degrees and employment in physics, is available at aip.org.