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Major/Minor Information

Applicable for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Major

Physics Major Requirements:

PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC 362 Observational Astronomy
PC450: Senior Seminar
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3
AND
Three units of physics numbered 262 or above, along with any prerequisites

All first-year students who intend to major in physics should take Introductory Classical Physics I and II (PC241 and PC242) during their first year. Our department web page contains a guide to choosing a first physics course for those who have taken AP or IB physics in high school.

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

Emphases

There are a wide variety of opportunities available to students after graduating from Colorado College. There are several course emphases available to provide guidance in preparing for your future. An emphasis is a collection of courses designed to help you specialize in a particular field of study. These emphases are only guides to help you select courses, and there is no formal application or obligation to finish an emphasis. Successfully completing the core requirements for the physics major is equivalent to completing a physics degree with the liberal arts emphasis. Successful completion of an emphasis will be noted on your transcript. 

Summary of emphasis requirements

The available emphases are:

 Liberal Arts - Comprehensive - Astrophysics - Environmental - Geophysics - Chemical/Materials Science - Education - Computational


 

Liberal Arts Physics Major

This emphasis is designed to cover core requirements for the physics major while leaving time for a broad liberal arts education. This is the default track and it is appropriate for any student interested in physics as well as those following pre-med or education-based tracks.  This track is also good for students who are interested in double majoring.  

PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
PC450: Senior Seminar
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3
AND
Three units of physics numbered 262 or above, along with any prerequisites


Comprehensive Major

This emphasis is for students interested in pursuing graduate school in physics or a related field. A broad coverage of major topics of physics is represented, preparing you for graduate school in any field of physics. This emphasis is very comprehensive and includes nearly every available physics course offered at CC. 


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
One physics elective numbered PC262 or higher
PC311: Vector Analysis
PC341: Mechanics
PC349: Thermal Physics
PC353: Electromagnetic Theory
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
PC441: Quantum Mechanics I
PC450: Senior Seminar 
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3
MA220: Linear Algebra

Recommendations:
CP122: Computer Science I
PC253: Computational Physics (adjunct, .5 units)
PC354: Electromagnetic Waves and Optics
PC420: Advanced Topics in Physics
PC442: Quantum Mechanics II

Astrophysics Emphasis 

This is designed for physics majors who are interested in astronomy and astrophysics. Although this emphasis provides a good preparation for graduate work in astronomy and astrophysics, it is also a good choice for those interested in a liberal arts education with a strong background in the physical sciences.


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC311: Vector Analysis
PC341: Mechanics
PC349: Thermal Physics
PC357: Astrophysics
PC358: Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology
PC362: Observational Astronomy
PC441: Quantum Mechanics I
PC450: Senior Seminar 
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3
MA220: Linear Algebra

Recommendations:
PC253: Computational Physics (adjunct, .5 units)
PC353: Electromagnetic Theory
PC354: Electromagnetic Waves and Optics
PC420: Advanced Topics in Physics
PC442: Quantum Mechanics II

Interdisciplinary Emphases: 

The following emphases are interdisciplinary and consist of the liberal arts physics major (the core requirements to complete a physics major) and a minor in another department. It is recommended that students planning on completing one of these emphases consult an adviser in both departments.

Environmental Physics Emphasis

Students who are interested in applying physics to environmental issues should consider this major. 


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
Two physics electives numbered 262 or higher
     Recommended electives:
     PC333: Solid State Physics
     PC341: Mechanics 
     PC349: Thermal Physics 
     PC354: Electromagnetic Waves and Optics
     PC441: Quantum Mechanics I
EV141: Sustainable Development 
One environmental policy class
PC431/EV431: Air: Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry 
One environmental science class
     Recommended elective:
     EV212: Energy: Environmental Thermodynamics and Energetics
     EV315: Atmosphere-Biosphere Interactions
     Note: PC 241 will suffice as a prerequisite for EV212 and EV315
PC450: Senior Seminar or EV490: Senior Seminar taken with choice of three courses- EV Senior Paper (EV420), Environmental Synthesis (EV421), Environmental Science Thesis (EV499) 
     Note: Senior Seminar must be relevant to Environmental Physics
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3

Recommendations:
One or more summer research programs in environmental physics
Additional advanced physics courses
Additional math courses (particularly MA218/EV228, MA220, MA315)
Introductory Chemistry, Geology, or Biology

Geophysics Emphasis 

Students who are interested in going into geophysics in employment or graduate school may be interested in this emphasis, which combines a liberal arts major in physics with five or more courses in geology. We recommend that you discuss this career path with Dick Hilt in the Department of Physics and Megan Anderson in the Department of Geology. 


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
Three physics electives numbered 262 or higher
     Recommended electives:
     PC333: Solid State Physics
     PC341: Mechanics 
     PC349: Thermal Physics 
     PC354: Electromagnetic Waves and Optics
PC450: Senior Seminar
GY130: Introductory Geology or GY140: Physical Geology 
GY308/PC308: Introductory Geophysics
     Two of the following three geology courses:
     GY240: Plate Tectonics
     GY315: Structural Geology
     GY320: Surface Processes and Geomorphology
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3

Recommendations:
One or more summer research programs in physics or geophysics
Additional advanced physics and geology courses
Additional math courses (particularly MA313, MA220, CP122, MA316, MA318)
General Chemistry I (CH107)

Chemical Physics or Material Science Emphasis

Students who are interested in employment or graduate school in chemical physics or material science may be interested in the chemical physics emphasis, which combines a liberal arts physics major with a minor in chemistry. We recommend that you seek advice from Phillip Cervantes, Stephanie DiCenzo, or Kristine Lang in the Department of Physics and Ted Lindeman or Sally Meyer in the Department of Chemistry. 


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
Three physics electives numbered 262 or higher
     Recommended Electives:
     PC333: Solid State Physics
     PC349: Thermal Physics 
     PC354: Electromagnetic Waves and Optics
     PC441: Quantum Mechanics I
     PC442: Quantum Mechanics and Relativity II
PC450: Senior Seminar
CH107: General Chemistry I
CH108: General Chemistry II
CH366: Physical Chemistry I
CH367: Physical Chemistry II
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3

Recommendations:
One or more summer research programs in physics or physical chemistry
CH241: Analytical/Bioanalytical Chemistry
CH250: Structures of Organic Molecules
Additional advanced physics, chemistry, and math courses

Teaching Emphasis

The teaching emphasis is intended for students interested in teaching physics at the high school level. In Colorado, physics teachers are certified to teach all sciences. This means that you need to major in physics, but also take at least two courses in biology, chemistry, and earth sciences. CC has two options for becoming a certified physics teacher. One is completed as an undergraduate: you major in physics, take the introductory courses in the other sciences, plus the education courses (essentially a minor) and student-teach. You can also be a 9th semester student where you graduate in May, then delay student teaching until the following fall, with a substantial reduction in tuition for the 9th semester. The second option is to focus on majoring in physics and completing the science requirements. You should take ED100 and ED120, then apply for the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program, which is a 14-month certification and master's degree program in the Department of Education. For more information, contact Mike Taber or Deb Mortenson in the Department of Education for advising. 


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
Three physics electives numbered 262 or higher
PC450: Senior Seminar
College Aids in Colorado Springs Schools (ED100)
Experience Aids in Colorado Springs Schools (ED120)
Two lab-based introductory science courses chosen from biology, chemistry, and geology
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3

Recommendations:
PC133: Astronomy
Additional education courses,such as ED 203 or 275(ED 275 is particularly useful for those interested in Teach for America)

Computational Physics Emphasis

The computational physics emphasis is for physics students interested in computational modeling, computer control of equipment, or students considering a career in electrical or computer engineering.  We recommend you consult with Shane Burns in the Department of Physics or Matthew Whitehead in Computer Science about this track.   


PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
PC361: Techniques of Experimental Physics or PC362: Observational Astronomy
PC253: Computational Physics (adjunct, .5 units)
2 physics electives PC 262 or higher
PC450: Senior Seminar
CP122: Computer Science I
CP222: Computer Science II
CP274: Software Design
CP275: Computer Organization
MA126: Calculus 1
MA129: Calculus 2
MA204: Calculus 3

Recommendations:
Additional advanced physics courses especially PC341, PC349, PC353, PC441, PC442
Additional computer science courses especially CP344, CP360, CP407
Additional advanced math courses especially MA201, MA220, MA251
One or more summer research programs

Minor

Minors are required to take the following courses:

PC241: Physics for the Physical Sciences I: Mechanics
PC242: Physics for the Physical Sciences II: Electricity & Magnetism
PC251: Introductory Modern Physics
PC261: Electronics I
Plus one additional course, level 200 or higher