For Further Information, Contact

Ken Wester, PTE Coordinator
Department of Physics,
Illinois State University,
Campus Box 4560,
Normal, IL 61790-4560

Email Ken
Physics Department
Phone: (309) 438-8756
Fax: (309) 438-5413

Physics Teacher Education

What is Physics Teacher Education?

This degree program prepares one to teach physics at the high school level. Teaching physics can be a very rewarding experience. Physics teachers often work with the best and most highly motivated students. They spend their days showing and explaining the marvels of the physical universe.

Physics teachers see physics as a fundamental science. The technological applications of science that propel society are all based on physics. Biology, chemistry, environmental science, and earth & space science are all grounded in physics. By inspiring and preparing future scientists, high school physics teachers are able to “touch the future” in ways that few others can.

Getting a job as a physics teacher is not a problem for qualified candidates. Because physics teachers are in demand, landing a satisfying job and earning a good salary from the start is a real possibility.

Click here to download a detailed brochure.

Click here to see a power point with information about Physics Education.


As a physics teaching major, you will begin your teaching experience with a service learning project during the fall of your sophomore year. By the time you have completed all required course work, you will be well grounded in fundamental physics. You will become knowledgeable about the science education reform movement, experienced with a variety of laboratory equipment and classroom settings, and become extremely well positioned for future professional advancement. Because ISU follows a broad-field preparation model, our graduates are certified to teach all introductory sciences at the high school level while specializing in physics. Because of its size and staffing, your plan of study will provide exceptional learning opportunities not available elsewhere at the undergraduate level.

Faculty and Students

Members of the faculty hold Ph.D.'s from many of the nation's leading universities. Each is a dedicated teacher and scholar, publishing their results in the nation's top physics journals.

The Department serves nearly 120 majors in its physics, computer physics, physics teaching, and engineering physics programs. More than half are from the top quarter of their high school class. The mean ACT composite score is above 27. A full-time coordinator manages ISU’s Physics Teaching program and serves as advise to all PTE majors.

Employment Opportunities

Many Physics Teaching majors are employed as undergraduate teaching assistance, providing valuable pre-professional experiences. Some PTE majors work in ISU’s Planetarium and others are making valuable contributions to faculty research programs in quantum optics, atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter and materials science, space science and astrophysics, and biophysics.

Our Physics Teaching program prepares candidates for positions in high school science teaching. As a physics teaching major you’ll be part of a nationally recognized program noted for the breadth and depth of its teacher candidate preparation. With six physics teaching methods courses and a full-time program coordinator, you’ll be part of what has grown to be among the largest undergraduate physics teaching programs in the nation.

Program Accreditation

The ISU Physics Teacher Education program is accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The program was most recently reaccredited by NCATE, NSTA, and ISBE during the spring of 2003. It first received NATIONAL ACCREDITATION by both NCATE and NSTA during 1998, and was the first PTE program in the state to be so recognized. Accreditation by state and national agencies ensures students of the highest quality educational experience possible, and should be an important consideration for anyone attempting to decide which institution to attend for collegiate studies.