Perspectives on Teaching:

Physics for Business Applications

Due to the persistent efforts of our former Chair, Professor Hans Bozler, the University of
Southern California has been funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to create four new
professional master's degrees in the sciences

One of these four new programs is Physics for Business Applications which is designed for
the physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering graduate who wants to pursue a career in
management, consulting, and finance, rather than follow the traditional path of research and
teaching. "We expect the physics-plus degree to be comparable to MBA and law degrees,
but grounded in the tools and techniques of advanced technology," says Hans Bozler.

After first consulting and holding conferences with potential employers who have shown an
interest in the hiring of our future Physics for Business Applications graduates, our
department has designed a program which is interdisciplinary, hands-on (an internship is
required), and designed to meet the demands of graduate students and employers. Professor
Bozler explains, "We expect that the resulting professional master's degrees will be
`high-valued' and will attract recent graduates as well as professionals already in commerce,
government, and industry who perceive the need for more specialized training."

This two-year program consists of three parts. The first is a core of physics courses taught
by our own Physics and Astronomy faculty which include the ability to read and apply the
results of physics research, advanced modeling and problem solving techniques, and
computational techniques. A specifically designed track in business with an emphasis in one
of several areas, such as Corporate Finance, Information Systems, and Operations
Management, constitutes the second part of the curriculum. These courses will be taught
by the faculty of USC's Marshall School of Business.

The third part of the curriculum includes discussions of emerging technologies and an
internship within business and industry where students will be excepted to present technical
reports, both orally and in writing, in an effort to hone their communications skills. As well,
many practicing professional scientists who are working in business and industry in
Southern California will be invited as guest lecturers where their expertise adds to the
classroom experience.

Additionally, each student will be proficient in modern programming languages including
C++. These languages will be used in physics courses, and each graduate will be familiar
with modern networked computer systems and analytical and data management tools.

Many of the physics core courses are newly developed specifically for this program by
our Physics and Astronomy faculty. Professor Hubert Saleur developed and taught one
of the core courses which deals with complex systems this last Fall '98, and the newly
appointed Professor Haas has developed a course, as well, concerning computational

In addition to consulting local industry and our Physics and Astronomy faculty, Professor
Bozler solicited the input of our domestic Physics and Astronomy alumni, who were very
receptive to his three-page questionnaire. As for the results, he found that 48% of our
responding alumni work for companies, while 16% work at universities; 15% are employed
by the government; 9% are self-employed; and the remainder are retired or did not indicate
current employment. When asked how well informed they had been about the diversity of
careers in science, only 8% said they had been well informed; 36% said they had obtained
enough information to choose jobs; and 54% said that they had not been informed well

Furthermore in a free-response question, alumni were asked which skills derived from
their scientific training have proven to be the most valuable throughout their careers. 44%
of the respondents named analytical and critical thinking, while 16% chose mathematics
and statistics; 12% mentioned the content of their physics and science courses; and 7%
cited computer skills. When asked in another open question what they felt they should have
studied in addition to science, 35% volunteered business; 15% named computers; and 11%
said social science.

Presently, we are recruiting graduates scheduled to begin classes this next Fall '99 with the
goal to enroll 20 students. Candidates for admission will have a completed bachelor's degree
in mathematics, one of the physical sciences, or engineering, and prior knowledge of
computer languages is preferable. The GRE is required.

For more information about the Professional Master's Programs in the Sciences, please
send e-mail to Professor Hans Bozler or call (213) 740-1125. Please visit the Physics
for Business
web page for further information.

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