B.S. in Physics

The four-year requirements for the B.S. degree in Physics are a minimum of 32 courses including:

  • The Common Course of Study
  • Five courses in Mathematics
    1. Math 161, 162, 263 — Calculus
    2. Math 264 — Differential Equations
    3. one Math elective (which may include CS or CM) for the class of 2018 and beyond)
  • For the class of 2017 and earlier: Two introductory science courses from Chemistry (121,122,125,212,324), Biology (101,102), or Geology
  • Thirteen courses in physics (twelve for the class of 2018 and later)
    1. Introductory physics courses (class of 2017 and before): (Phys 131, Phys 132, and Phys 133) or (Phys 151 and Phys 152)
    2. Introductory physics courses (class of 2018 and after): Phys 130, (Phys 131 or Phys 151) and (Phys 133 or Phys 152)
    3. Intermediate physics courses (class of 2017 and before): Phys 215, Phys 216, Phys 218
    4. Intermediate physics courses (class of 2018 and after): Phys 215 and Phys 218
    5. Advanced physics courses: Phys 327, Phys 335, Phys 338, Phys 342, and Phys 351
    6. Other physics courses at the 200 level or above: Phys 216 and at least one course numbered above 400 are strongly recommended for students applying to graduate school in physics
  • and six free electives

A.B. in Physics

The four-year requirements for the A.B. degree in Physics are a minimum of 32 courses including:

  • The Common Course of Study
  • Four courses in Mathematics
    • Math 161, 162, 263 — Calculus
    • Math 264 — Differential Equations
  • Class of 2017 and before: Two introductory science courses from Chemistry (121,122,125,212,324), Biology (101,102), or Geology
  • Ten courses in physics
    • Introductory physics courses (class of 2017 and before): (Phys 131, Phys 132, and Phys 133) or (Phys 151 and Phys 152)
    • Introductory physics courses (class of 2018 and after): Phys 130, (Phys 131 and Phys 133) or (Phys 151 and Phys 152)
    • Intermediate physics courses (class of 2017 and before): Phys 215, Phys 216, Phys 218
    • Intermediate physics courses (class of 2018 and after): Phys 215 and Phys 218
    • Other physics courses numbered 200 or above (one may be numbered below 110): Phys 216 and at least one course numbered above 400 are strongly recommended for students applying to graduate school in physics
  • Ten electives (some of which may be needed to satisfy the foreign culture requirement)

Concentration in Astronomy

The requirements for the A.B. or B.S. in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy are:

Minor in Physics

The Minor in Physics requires a sequence of six Physics courses which must include a two-semester introductory calculus-based sequence (i.e. Phys 131-132, or Phys 131-133, or Phys 151-152) and 215. The three additional Physics courses are to be chosen from among those that may be used to meet the requirements for a major in Physics. Courses with numbers below 111 are designed primarily for students in non-technical programs, are less mathematical in their approach to physics, and are not acceptable for the purpose of meeting this requirement.

Typical Course Patterns

Shown below are some typical course patterns for fulfilling the physics degree requirements. Depending on your interests and background, however, there may be other possibilities or options available. Please consult with any physics faculty members about the opportunities available to you.

Class of 2017 and before:

A.B. Physics Major B.S. Physics Major
Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 131 Phys 133
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Intro Science Intro Science
2nd Phys 215 Phys 218
Phys 132 Elective
Math 263 Math 264
3rd Phys 351 Phys 216
Phys 3xx
4th Phys 3xx Phys 4xx
Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 131 Phys 133
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Intro Science Intro Science
2nd Phys 215 Phys 216
Phys 132 Phys 218
Math 263 Math 264
3rd Phys 351 Phys 327
Phys 3xx Phys 3xx
Math 3xx
4th Phys 3xx Phys 4xx
Phys 4xx

Class of 2018 and after:

A.B. Physics Major B.S. Physics Major
Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 130 Phys 131
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Elective Elective
2nd Phys 133 Phys 215
Elective Phys 218
Math 263 Math 264
3rd Phys 351 Elective
 Phys 216 Phys 3xx
4th Phys 3xx Phys 4xx
Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 130 Phys 131
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Elective Elective
2nd Phys 133 Phys 215
Elective Phys 218
Math 263 Math 264
3rd Phys 351 Phys 327
Phys 216 Phys 3xx
Math 3xx
4th Phys 3xx Phys 4xx
Phys 4xx

Starting Spring of First Year

Sometimes students take their first physics course in the spring of their first year. For the class of 2018 and later, the only change from the patterns above is that Phys 130 should be taken any subsequent fall semester. Students in the class of 2017 or earlier who consider starting a physics major in the spring of their first year are strongly encouraged to consult with any of the physics faculty about possible course programs. The exact order of courses, particularly Phys 216 and 218, will depend on your background and interests. An example B.S. program for the class of 2017 or before is shown below.

Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 131
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Intro Science Intro Science
2nd Phys 132 Phys 133
Phys 215 Phys 218
Math 263 Math 264
3rd Phys 342 Phys 216
Math 3xx Phys 327
4th Phys 351 Phys 4xx
Phys 3xx Phys 3xx
Phys 3xx

Important note: Students with advanced placement credit for Phys 131 can simply start with Phys 132 and then follow the pattern for those entering as B.S. physics major.