Supported SiteSupported Site California State University, San Marcos: Course Reform


  • Several possibilities have been explored for establishing a physics education curriculum, including an Option in Physics Education within the existing Applied Physics Bachelors of Science degree program, and a physics waiver program (which is not a degree program but a state-approved set of courses that allow students to waive a subject matter test requirement for credential programs).
  • Input was sought from the CSU Chancellor's office, and CSUSM math and chemistry departments and School of Education on how to make program valuable to students (to ensure enrollment/demand).


  • The coordination of curriculum with credentialing/certification requirements established by California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is difficult given the large number of CTC requirements.
  • The implementation of Next Generation Science Standards has created some uncertainty, including the possibility that the CTC requirements will change in the near future.

Lessons Learned

  • A CTC-approved waiver program (which students can complete in lieu of passing a subject matter exam) is distinct from a degree program, and is attractive to students interested in teaching careers.
  • An education-specific option within a math/science degree program may be limiting and less appealing to students. At CSUSM, the Mathematics Department does not offer an education-oriented degree. The Chemistry Department does offer an education-oriented degree, but very few students take it (1-2 in 10 years).


  • PIs met with mathematics and chemistry faculty, and SoE faculty, administrators, and advisors (April 18 and 25, 2012).
  • Other CSUs with physics waiver programs have, at our request, shared documents they prepared when applying for a waiver program. An application for a CSUSM program is under development.