Major Requirements

The program for physics majors is composed of the Physics Foundation and one of six concentrations (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geology, Education and Computer Science.)  Details for each concentration are listed below.

Students can also supplement their programs by taking courses at the California Institute of Technology under the exchange program.

In addition to the Physics Foundation, all physics majors must complete one of the following Physics concentrations. Upon graduation, the student's transcript will list both the major (Physics) and the chosen concentration.

PHYSICS FOUNDATION

All physics majors must complete a core of four physics courses called the Foundation. Accompanying these physics courses must be work in mathematics including Multivariable Calculus and Linear Systems.

Introductory sequence

PHYS 110Introductory Mechanics

4 units

Or

PHYS 115General Physics I

4 units

PHYS 117Waves and Thermal Physics

4 units

PHYS 120Introductory Electricity and Magnetism

4 units

PHYS 240Modern Physics

4 units

Mathematics Component

MATH 212Multivariable Calculus

4 units

MATH 214Linear Algebra

4 units

Concentrations

Some of the five concentrations require Physics Selectives (courses from the 260 or 360 series, or 300-level courses below 390 not otherwise required for the concentration).

Concentration in Physics (28 units):

Recommended for students who wish a thorough background in physics and for those who wish to pursue professional or graduate work in physics or engineering.

PHYS 310Mathematical Methods in Physics

4 units

PHYS 315Advanced Laboratory I

2 units

PHYS 316Advanced Laboratory II

2 units

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

PHYS 330Advanced Electromagnetism

4 units

PHYS 340Quantum Mechanics

4 units

PHYS 350Statistical Physics

4 units

Physics Selective

4 units

Concentration in Mathematics (32 units):

Recommended for students who wish a broader mathematics or computer science background.

PHYS 310Mathematical Methods in Physics

4 units

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

PHYS 350Statistical Physics

4 units

Physics Selective

4 units

Any other 300-level Physics courses

8 units

Any other 300-level Math courses not including Junior Seminar

8 units

These courses must be in addition to those required math courses listed in the Foundation.

Concentration in Chemistry (32 units):

Recommended for students who wish a broader physical science background.

CHEM 120Foundations of General Chemistry

4 units

Or

CHEM 130Advanced Placement General Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 220Organic Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 221Organic Chemistry II

4 units

CHEM 240Integrated Concepts in General Chemistry

4 units

PHYS 310Mathematical Methods in Physics

4 units

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

PHYS 330Advanced Electromagnetism

4 units

Or

PHYS 340Quantum Mechanics

4 units

PHYS 350Statistical Physics

4 units

Concentration in Geology (28 units):

Recommended for students who wish to pursue careers in geology or geophysics.

GEO 105Earth: Our Environment

4 units

GEO 225Introduction to Field Methods

4 units

GEO 235Global Geophysics and Tectonics

4 units

GEO 245Earth's Climate: Past and Future

4 units

Or

GEO One 300-level Geology course

PHYS 310Mathematical Methods in Physics

4 units

Two of the following

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

PHYS 330Advanced Electromagnetism

4 units

PHYS 350Statistical Physics

4 units

PHYS 320, PHYS 330: Both PHYS 320 and PHYS 330 are strongly encouraged.

Concentration in Education (28 units):

This concentration is recommended for students who wish to pursue careers in secondary science education. EDUC 314 is highly recommended.

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

Physics Selectives

12 units

EDUC 201Sociocultural Foundations of Education

4 units

EDUC 207Conflict in Education

4 units


And four units of:

EDUC 300Community Engagement in Education

2 units

Concentration in Computer Science (32 units):

MATH 210Discrete Mathematics

4 units

COMP 131Fundamentals of Computer Science

4 units

COMP 229Data Structures

4 units

COMP 239Computer Organization

4 units

One additional 300-level Computer Science course not including Practicum and Junior Seminar

4 units

PHYS 310Mathematical Methods in Physics

4 units

And two of the following:

PHYS 320Analytical Dynamics

4 units

PHYS 330Advanced Electromagnetism

4 units

PHYS 340Quantum Mechanics

4 units

PHYS 350Statistical Physics

4 units

PHYSICS "CAPSTONE"

Physics "Capstone":

All physics majors must complete the Senior Seminar sequence:

PHYS 490Senior Physics Seminar I

2 units

And

PHYS 491Senior Physics Seminar II

2 units

Majors participating in an off-campus program during the Senior year may repeat PHYS 490 or PHYS 491 to satisfy this requirement.