We offer an undergraduate Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in physics that features small classes, research opportunities with faculty, and great flexibility in choosing electives and planning career paths.
Our majors enjoy a relatively small department where faculty and staff know them personally and where they can socialize and study together with their student colleagues in our Dan Black Center "grad room", maintained by the Physics Club. Roughly half of our majors are transfer students. We graduate around 10 students each year.
Additional information can be found in the university catalog and its physics pages, but please don't hesitate to contact us to schedule a visit and meet with an advisor. Send Leigh Hargreaves, Program Coordinator, and Ionel Tifrea, Chair, an email. Note, applications for the program are completed online.
For a wealth of resources on careers in physics, check out CareerCornerStone.
Our undergraduate program is organized around a core of upper-division courses 3 units each totaling 24 required units for the major:
- Phys 300 Intro to Math Methods in Physics
- Phys 310 Thermodynamics
- Phys 320 Analytic Mechanics
- Phys 330A Electrostatics, magnetostatics
- Phys 330B Electrodynamics
- Phys 340 Intro to Quantum & Modern Physics
- Phys 380 Electronics and Advanced Lab
- Engl 301 Technical Writing (or equivalent)
Along with these essential courses, the program requires an additional 14 upper-division units, comprising the elective courses students can select from among several possibilities, including
- Phys 301 Energy & Sustainability
- Phys 411 Optics
- Phys 455 Quantum Mechanics
- Phys 481 & 482 Advanced Labs
- Phys 499 (6 units max) Independent Study with Faculty
as long as 3 units include an Advanced Lab, or Phys 499 Faculty Lab Research, along with 3 units of science or math elective from outside the department.
Our upper-division core courses have three lower-division physics prerequisites (3 unit lectures + 1 unit labs),
- Phys 225 + 225L Mechanics
- Phys 226 + 226L Electricity and Magnetism
- Phys 227 + 227L Optics and Modern Physics
which require in turn three semesters of introductory calculus,
- Math 150A, 150B, and 250A with Math 150A a prereq for Phys 225 and 150B for 226.
We also require two semesters of introductory chemistry, Chem 120A, which includes a lab, and Chem 125, which has no lab. Thus, a typical four-year curriculum for an incoming freshman physics major might look like the following:
Fall Math 125, Chem 115
Spr Math 150A, Chem 120A
Fall Math 150B, Chem 125, Phys 225 + 225L
Spr Math 250A, Phys 226 + 226L, Engl 301
Fall Phys 227 + 227L, Phys 300, Phys 315
Spr Phys 310, Phys 320, Phys 301, Geol ??? (outside elective)
Fall Phys 330A, Phys 340, Phys 380, Phys 411
Spr Phys 330B, Phys 455, Phys 481
Our Dan Black Phys-Bus Program offers a BS degree in physics with an emphasis option in business that substitutes certain physics requirements with accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurial courses in the business school. The program is administered in close collaboration with the Center for Entrepreneurship in Mihaylo College.
This program is funded with the ongoing, generous support of department alumnus Dan Black and is aimed at providing undergraduate physics majors with the training and experience needed to succeed in small businesses with entrepreneurial and technology-based orientations. Paid summer internships and annual scholarships are key components of the program.
In addition to our standard Core Courses in physics with the exception of Phys 227L, Phys-Bus students take
- Accounting 201 (3 units), Introductory Financial Accounting, in place of second-semester chemistry, Chem 125,
and replace 15 units of upper-division physics electives with
- Finance 320 (3 units), Business Finance,
- Management 340 (3 units), Organizational Behavior,
- Marketing 351 (3 units), Principles of Marketing,
- Management 465A (3 units), New Venture Creation and Funding,
- Management 465B (3 units), New Venture Launch, or Management 461 (3 units), Entrepreneurial Management.
Students are also advised to take Economics 201 (3 units), Principles of Microeconomics, to satisfy a general education requirement, and BuAd 301 (3 units), Advanced Business Communication, to satisfy our upper-division writing requirement.
Minor in Physics
To minor in physics from another major, one needs to take two courses from the physics upper-division core along with Phys 380 for a total of 9 units in addition to the introductory calculus and physics sequences. (You will complete the Technical Writing requirement in your major.)
Minor or double major in Math or another science
Some 20% of our majors graduate with a minor or double major in math or another science. To minor in math, one also needs to take Math 250B, a gateway course to all upper-division math courses, and then just three additional math courses, typically, advanced calculus Math 306, ordinary differential equations Math 310, and linear algebra Math 307. If you minor in math or another science or in engineering, the department will waive the 3-unit physics outside-elective requirement.