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Department of

Physics

Physics Major

 

Physics Major Quick Reference

Preparation for the Major Required Core Courses Seminar and Research Elective Courses
32 units required
19 units required
3 units required
12 units required - choose from:
PHYS 270 -
Mechanics and Waves (4)
PHYS 314 -
Analytical Mechanics (3)
PHYS 493 -
Seminar I (1)
Craft of Scientific Presentation
PHYS 301-
Energy and the Environment (3)
PHYS 271 -
Electrodynamics (4)
PHYS 324 -
Electromagnetic Theory (3)
PHYS 495
Seminar II (1)
Frontiers of Physics
PHYS 307 -
Astrophysics (3)
PHYS 272 + Lab -
Modern Physics (4)
PHYS 330 -
Quantum Physics (3)
PHYS 496 -
Research (1)
PHYS 319 -
Thermal and Statistical Physics (3)
MATH 150 -
Calc I (4)
PHYS 480W -
Experimental Modern Physics (4)
  PHYS 331 -
Advanced Quantum Physics (3)
MATH 151 -
Calc II (4)
2 Math courses at the 300 level or higher (6)   PHYS 340 -
Biological Physics (3)
MATH 250 -
Calc III (4)
    PHYS 487 -
Techniques in Physics (1-4)
CHEM 151 + L -
General Chemistry I (4)
    PHYS 494 -
Special Topics (3-4)
CHEM 152 + L -
General Chemistry II (4)
     

 

Physics Major Information

Preparation for the Major: PHYS 270, 271, 272, 272L, MATH 150, 151, 250, CHEM 151, 151L, 152, 152L

Major Requirements: The 28 units of upper-division work in physics must include PHYS 314, 324, 330 and 480W.  In addition, students must complete 12 units of elective physics coursework at the 300 or 400 level.  The major culminates with 3 units of seminar and research, PHYS 495 and 496, normally taken in the senior year. Two upper-division courses in mathematics are required for the major, with MATH 310 and 311 suggested but not required.

Students should fulfill as many of the non-science core curriculum requirements as possible during the freshman and sophomore years.  Student planning to attend graduate school in physics are strongly advised to take as many physics and mathematics courses as their schedule will allow.

The following program of study fulfills the minimum requirement for a bachelor’s degree in physics. It is recommended that a student take MATH 150 in the first semester, and MATH 151 and PHYS 270 in the second semester. If the student is not prepared to take MATH 150 in the fall of the freshman year, it would be preferable to take MATH 115 and 118 the summer preceding the freshman year. It would be possible, but difficult, to take MATH 115 and 118 in the fall of the freshman year and still begin PHYS 270 in the spring of the freshman year along with MATH 150.

 

Suggested Course of Study

Below is a grid comprising the optimal sequence for a student entering USD intending to major in physics including core curriculum and electives (CCE). Please be aware that if a student decides to start a physics major some time after matriculation, the faculty of the Department of Physics will work with the student individually to determine his/her best sequence of courses.

Optimal Path for a Major in Physics

Freshman Year Sophomore Year
Fall Spring   Fall Spring
Course (Units) Course (Units)   Course (Units) Course (Units)
Preceptorial (3) Math 151 (4)   Chem 151 (3) Chem 152 (3)
Math 150 (4) Phys 270 (4)   Chem 151L (1) Chem 152L (1)
CC or electives (9) CC or electives (7-9)   Math 250 (4) Phys 272 (3)
      Phys 271 (4) Phys 272L (1)
      CC or electives (3-6) CC or electives (7-9)
Junior Year Senior Year
Fall Spring   Fall Spring
Course (Units) Course (Units)   Course (Units) Course (Units)
Chem 152 (3) Upper division Math (3)   Phys 314 or Phys 330 (3) Phys 480W (4) or Phys elective (3-6)
Chem 152L (1) Phys 480W (4) or   Phys 324 or Phys elective (3) CC or electives (6-12)
Upper Division Math (3) Phys elective (3-6)   Phys 495 (1) and Phys 496 (2)  
Phys 314 or 330 (3) CC or electives (3-6)   CC or electives (6-7)  
Phys 324 or Phys elective (3)        
CC or electives (3)