Professional Physics Track

This track prepares students to undertake graduate work in physics and other technical fields. The complete program must begin in the freshman year; however, under exceptional circumstances a student who decides in the sophomore year to undertake graduate work in physics can complete sufficient work to succeed. Note that this 'track' is simply for advising purposes for help in choosing electives. All physics majors complete the same requirements for the major.

The Curriculum

  1. Physics introductory courses [4 or 5 hours; note that only the second course in any sequence counts toward the physics major; as appropriate, any combination of 116a/118a + 116b/118b or 116a/118a + 121b or 121a + 121b or 121a + 116b/118b satisfies the Introductory Course requirement]:
    • first semester introductory, calculus-based physics (pre-requisite for the major):
      • PHYS 116a (General Physics I) with PHYS 118a (General Physics I Lab) [offered in both Spring and Fall] [4] or
      • PHYS 121a: Principles of Physics I with lab [Fall, 5]
    • second semester introductory, calculus-based physics [4 or 5]:
      • PHYS 116b (General Physics II) with PHYS 118b (General Physics II Lab) [offered in both Spring and Fall, 4] or
      • PHYS 121b: Principles of Physics II with lab [Fall, 5]
  2. Core curriculum [19 hours]:
    • PHYS 225 or 225W: Concepts and Applications of Quantum Physics I [Fall, 4]
    • PHYS 226 or 226W: Concepts and Applications of Quantum Physics II [Spring, 4]
    • PHYS 223: Thermal and Statistical Physics [3] or PHYS 223C: Computational Thermal and Statistical Physics [Fall, 3]
    • PHYS 227a: Classical Mechanics I [Fall, 3]
    • PHYS 229a: Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics I [Spring, 3]
    • PHYS 250: Physics Undergraduate Seminar [1]
    • ASTR 250: Astronomy Undergraduate Seminar [1]
  3. Additional Courses:
    • PHYS 227b: Classical Mechanics II [3]
    • PHYS 229b: Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics II [3]
    • PHYS 251a-251b: Advanced Quantum Mechanics I and II [6]
    • PHYS 257: computational physics [3]
    • PHYS 289, 291, 296: Physics Research [variable credit]

Sample Professional Physics Program

(allowing for honors research in physics; students who choose to study abroad, typically in the third year, can either move some of Physics 223, 227A and 229A to the second year or find equivalent courses in their study-abroad program)

Fall SemesterSpring Semester
First Year Physics 121A
Math 155a
first year writing seminar
Foreign language 1
Physics 121B
Math 155b
History and Culture 1(W)
Foreign Language 2
CS 101
Second Year Physics 225 or 225W
Math 175
Humanities 1
History and Culture 2
research (Physics 289)
General Elective
Physics 226 or 226W
Math 194 or 204
Humanities 2
Social Science 1
research (Physics 289)
General Elective
Third Year Physics 227A
Physics 223 or 223C
Math 194 or 204
Social Science 2
research (Physics 291)
History and Culture 3
Physics 227B
Physics 229A
Physics 257
research (Physics 291)
Math 198 or 208
Social Science 2
Fourth Year Physics 251A
Physics 229B
honors research (Physics 296)
Physics 250 or Astronomy 250
History and Culture 4
Physics 251B
honors research (Physics 296)
Math 229
Astronomy 250 or Physics 250
Humanities 3

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