First-Year students and others seeking introductory physics courses

Please see the First-year Course Selection Advice and Choosing the Right Physics Course pages for guidance on choosing introductory physics courses.

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)
  • Twelve courses in physics
    1. Three introductory physics courses: Phys 130;  Phys 131 or Phys 151; and Phys 133 or Phys 152
    2. Two Intermediate physics courses: Phys 215 and Phys 218
    3. Advanced physics courses: Phys 327, Phys 335, Phys 338, Phys 342, and Phys 351
    4. 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
  • 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
  • Ten courses in physics
    • Three Introductory physics courses: Phys 130;  Phys 131 or Phys 151; and Phys 133 or Phys 152
    • Two Intermediate physics courses: 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 131-133, 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, particularly in the first two years of study. Depending on your interests and background, however, there may be other possibilities or options available. Please consult with any physics faculty member about the opportunities available to you.

Year Fall Spring
1st Phys 130 Phys 131  or Phys 151
Math 161 Math 162
FYS Elective
Elective Elective
2nd Phys 133  or Phys 152 Phys 215
Elective Phys 218
Math 263 Math 264
Elective Elective
3rd Phys 351 Phys 327
Electives and Advanced Physics Courses Electives and Advanced Physics Courses
4th Electives and Advanced Physics Courses Electives and Advanced Physics Courses

Starting Spring of First Year

Sometimes students take their first physics course in the spring of their first year. In this situation, the only change from the pattern above is that Phys 130 should be taken any subsequent fall semester.