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Major/Minor Information

The physics department offers both major and minor programs. The core physics major consists of only nine courses, not including math prerequisites. This allows the flexibility to direct the core physics curriculum toward a student's specific career goals.

For students intending to pursue physics professionally, the comprehensive emphasis is strongly recommended. The liberal arts emphasis consists of only the core physics requirements outlined below, and is the foundation for every other emphasis. 

Additional emphasis information

Senior Seminar information

Pre-engineering options

Possible emphases for the physics major include:

  • Liberal Arts
  • Comprehensive
  • Astrophysics
  • Environmental
  • Geophysics
  • Chemical/Materials Science
  • Education 
If you are considering a major in physics, it is important that you take both PC 241 and 242 during your freshman year. This will prevent serious scheduling conflicts during subsequent years.


All first year students who intend to major in physics should take Introductory Classical Physics I & II (PC241 & PC242) during their first year.

Other requirements:
PC251 Introductory Modern Physics
PC261 Electronics I
PC361 Techniques of Experimental Physics
PC450 Senior Seminar
MA 126 Calculus I
MA 129 Calculus II
MA 204 Calculus III
Three units of physics numbered 262 or above, along with any prerequisites

One block of Investigations in Physics may be included and is recommended but Readings in Physics may not. In addition, all majors must actively participate in the departmental colloquium program. Additional advanced courses in physics and mathematics are strongly recommended, especially for those who intend to pursue a career in physics, astrophysics, or applied science. Click here for course descriptions.

Sample Course Track for students starting in their first year
Sample Course Track for students starting in their second year


Minors are required to take the following courses:
PC241 Introductory Classical Physics I
PC242 Introductory Classical Physics II
PC251 Introductory Modern Physics
PC261 Electronics I
Plus one additional course level 200 or higher