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This section describes how successful physics programs design an upper-level curriculum, in alignment with the departmental mission, vision and program outcomes, to prepare students for a variety of careers and/or graduate school. Upper-level course and curriculum design involves creating classroom and departmental environments that support collaboration, articulation of ideas, conceptual understanding, technical skills, mathematical and computational proficiency, and development of advanced physics problem-solving skills. The section addresses course-level student learning outcomes and program-level student learning outcomes, design of course content and pedagogy, the student learning environment, and more.
A well-designed upper-level curriculum helps prepare students for a diverse range of careers as well as post-graduate study. A coherent curriculum consciously and directly supports program learning outcomes. Upper-level courses support the development of diverse skills such as mathematical, computational, laboratory, experimental, and communication skills, working in teams, and project management. Students develop strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and the ability to place physical problems and solutions in larger contexts in a well designed upper-level curriculum. A strong upper-level curriculum supports retention of undergraduate physics majors.