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Requirements

Major and Minor in Physics

Requirements for the Major:

At least 9 credits in Physics, plus at least 3 credits in Mathematics

  • 3 Mathematics courses, which are prerequisites for many upper-level Physics courses
    • Mathematics 110: Calculus I (corequisite for Physics 120)
    • Mathematics 111: Calculus II (corequisite for Physics 121)
    • Mathematics 210: Multivariable Calculus (corequisite for Physics 250)
  • Physics 120: General Physics I 
  • Physics 121: General Physics II
  • Physics 210: Modern Physics
  • Physics 250: Analytical Mechanics
  • Physics 310: Electricity and Magnetism I
  • Physics 330: Thermodynamics
  • Physics 420: Quantum Mechanics I
  • at least 1 additional Physics course at the 200-level or above
  • Physics 480: Senior Seminar in Experimental Methods

Students intending to pursue graduate studies or other careers in physics are advised to enroll in more than the 9 courses required for the major. Tutorials may be undertaken in subjects not listed among the course offerings. Exposure to other sciences, especially Chemistry 115 and 116, and more advanced mathematics, especially Mathematics 214 and Computer Science 112, is strongly encouraged.  Courses taken Pass-Fail may  not count towards the major or minor in Physics.

Requirements for the Minor:

  • 3 Mathematics courses, which are prerequisites for many upper-level Physics courses
    • Mathematics 110: Calculus I (corequisite for Physics 120)
    • Mathematics 111: Calculus II (corequisite for Physics 121)
    • Mathematics 210: Multivariable Calculus (corequisite for Physics 250)
  • Physics 120: General Physics I 
  • Physics 121: General Physics II
  • Physics 210: Modern Physics
  • Physics 250: Analytical Mechanics
  • at least 1 additional Physics course at the 200-level or above

NOTE

PHYS 120 and PHYS 121 and MATH 110 and MATH 111 (or their equivalent) must be completed before the sophomore year (perhaps over the summer) to finish the physics major in 4 years. Students who have tried to complete a physics major starting in their sophomore year have run into significant problems, primarily because the upper-level requirements are offered in alternate years.

PHYS 120/121 is recommended for science majors.

If there are scheduling conflicts, PHYS 110 may be substituted for PHYS 120, and PHYS 111 may be substituted for PHYS 121.  This change is not acceptable for engineering, however. Both courses have the same laboratories. PHYS 110/111 is not much easier than PHYS 120/121. MATH 110/111 can be taken with PHYS 120/121. 

Occasionally, “advanced” first-year students have sufficient experience in physics to skip the 100-level courses.  This is most easily confirmed by a score of 4 or 5 on a relevant Advanced Placement examination.  Please consult a department member for placement of such students. Typically, the correct courses to take are PHYS 210 and MATH 210 in the fall, and PHYS 250 and MATH 214 (if offered) in the spring.