College of Science

Physics Major

UPDATED FOR THE NEW SEMESTER CURRICULUM!

CURRICULUM MAPS FOR PHYSICS MAJOR (ALL DEGREE OPTIONS) ARE AVAILABLE UNDER  CURRICULUM AND ADVISING.

The course requirements for a physics major are divided into three groups:

  1. Core courses are required for all physics majors and cover material in physics, mathematics, and other fields of natural science.
  2. Elective courses in physics or other academic disciplines provide more specialized content for various sub-fields of physics and/or interdisciplinary fields.
  3. General Education (GE) courses provide a well-rounded exposure to the liberal arts expected of any college-educated person.

The courses listed below are the current academic requirements for graduation. However, students are bound by the course requirements in effect at the date of their matriculation unless they file a general academic petition to substitute the current course requirements. Unrestricted elective courses in addition to the requirements listed below should be taken, if needed, to bring the total units completed to the minimum of 120 (semester) units required for the physics degree. 

For a description of the contents of these courses see the Catalog listings.

Required Core Courses

A 2.0 cumulative GPA is required in core courses, including option courses for the major, in order to receive a degree in physics.

The following 44 units of courses are required of all physics majors regardless of degree option:

Course Number Course Name Units
CHM 1210 General Chemistry I
3
CHM 1210L General Chemistry I Laboratory
1
MAT 1140 Calculus I
4
MAT 1150 Calculus II
4
MAT 2010 Introduction to Computational Methods in Mathematics
2
MAT 2010L Introduction to Computational Methods in Mathematics Laboratory
1
MAT 2140 Calculus III
4
MAT 2250 Linear Algebra with Applications to Differential Equations
4
PHY 1510 Introduction to Newtonian Mechanics
3
PHY 1510L Newtonian Mechanics Laboratory
1
PHY 1520 Introduction to Electromagnetism and Circuits
3
PHY 1520L Introductory Laboratory on Electromagnetism and Circuits
1
PHY 2530 Introduction to Electromagnetic Radiation and Special Relativity
3
PHY 2530L Introductory Laboratory on Electromagnetic Radiation and Special Relativity
1
PHY 2540 Introduction to Thermal and Quantum Physics
3
PHY 2540L Introductory Laboratory on Thermal and Quantum Physics
1
PHY 3600 Mathematical Methods of Physics I
3
PHY 3600A Mathematical Methods of Physics I Recitation Activity
1
PHY 4630 Undergraduate Seminar
1

 

The following 16 units of courses are required for the General Degree Option (including the Astrophysics Emphasis):

Course Number Course Name Units
PHY 3210 Advanced Classical Mechanics
3
PHY 3210A Advanced Classical Mechanics Recitation Activity
1
PHY 4010 Quantum Mechanics I
3
PHY 4010A Quantum Mechanics I Recitation Activity
1
PHY 4140 Electricity and Magnetism I
3
PHY 4140A Electricity and Magnetism I Recitation Activity
1
PHY 4330 Thermal and Statistical Physics
3
PHY 4330A Thermal and Statistical Physics Recitation Activity
1

 

The following 11 units of courses are required for the General Degree Option, Astrophysics Emphasis:

Course Number Course Name Units
AST 3240 Observational Astronomy
2
AST 3240A Observational Astronomy Computer Activity
1
AST 4240 Astrophysics I: Stars and Planetary Systems
3
AST 4240A Astrophysics I Recitation Activity
1
AST 4250 Astrophysics II: Galaxies and the Universe
3
AST 4250A Astrophysics II Recitation Activity
1

 

The following 16 units of courses are required for the Biophysics Degree Option

Course Number Course Name Units
BIO 1210 Foundations of Biology: Energy, Matter, and Information
3
BIO 1210L Foundations of Biology: Energy, Matter, and Information Laboratory
1
BIO 1220 Foundations of Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity
3
BIO 1220L Foundations of Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity Laboratory
1
CHM 1220 General Chemistry II
3
CHM 1220L General Chemistry Laboratory II
1
PHY 4330 Thermal and Statistical Physics
3
PHY 4330A Thermal and Statistical Physics Recitation Activity
1

 

The following 26 units of courses are required for the Integrated Science Degree Option

Course Number Course Name Units
BIO 1210 Foundations of Biology: Energy, Matter, and Information
3
BIO 1210L Foundations of Biology: Energy, Matter, and Information Laboratory
1
BIO 1220 Foundations of Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity
3
BIO 1220L Foundations of Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity Laboratory
1
CHM 1220 General Chemistry II
3
CHM 1220L General Chemistry Laboratory II
1
GSC 1110 Principles of Geology
3

AST 1010

OR GSC 1160

Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

Introduction to Astronomy

3
GSC 1410L Principles of Geology Laboratory
1
PHY 3210 Advanced Classical Mechanics
3
PHY 3210A Advanced Classical Mechanics Recitation Activity
1
STS 2010 Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society
3

 

Option Elective Courses

A 2.0 cumulative GPA is required in Option Elective courses to receive a degree in physics. 

General Degree Option Electives

A minimum of 7 units from the list below are requiredStudents must take AT LEAST 2 units from PHY 4510A/L or PHY 4520A/L. AST 3240/A is required for the Astrophysics Emphasis.

Course Number Course Name Units
AST 3240/A Observational Astronomy/Computer Activity
3
PHY 3040/L Electronics for Scientists/Laboratory
3
PHY 4090/A Computational Physics/Activity
3
PHY 4170/L Wave Optics/Laboratory
3
PHY 4410 Internship in Physics
1-2
PHY 4610/4620 Senior Project I/II
3
PHY 4510A/L

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Advanced Instrumentation Activity/Laboratory

2
PHY 4520A/L

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Contemporary Experiments Activity/Laboratory

2

Additional courses must be taken to bring the total option electives to a minimum of 14 units; these may be to selected from any upper-division PHY or AST courses (except AST 3050, AST 3420, PHY 3010, and PHY 3020) or other approved upper-division math, science, and engineering courses. AST 4240/A and AST 4250/A are required for the Astrophysics Emphasis.

Biophysics Degree Option Electives

9 units from the list below are required

Course Number Course Name Units

PHY 3210/A

OR PHY 4010/A

OR PHY 4140/A

Advanced Classical Mechanics/Recitation Activity

Quantum Mechanics I/Recitation Activity

Electricity and Magnetism I/Recitation Activity

4

PHY 3040/L

OR PHY 3440/A

OR PHY 4090/A

OR PHY 4170/L

OR PHY 4610/4620

Electronics for Scientists/Laboratory

Applied Optics/Activity

Computational Physics/Activity

Wave Optics/Laboratory

Senior Project I/II

3

PHY 4510A/L

OR PHY 4520A/L

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Advanced Instrumentation Activity/Laboratory

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Contemporary Experiments Activity/Laboratory

2

 

A minimum of 10 units selected from the list below are also requiredAt least 1 unit must be a lab class, at least 3 units must be upper-division, and at least 3 units must be from biology.

Course Number Course Name Units

BIO 2060/L

Basic Microbiology/Laboratory

4

BIO 2340/L

Human Anatomy/Laboratory

4

BIO 2350/L

Human Physiology/Laboratory

4

BIO 2400

Genetics

3

BIO 3220

Cell and Molecular Biology

3

BIO 4020/L

Developmental Biology/Laboratory

4

PHY 4100

Biophysics

3

BIO 4190/L

Neuroscience I: Cell and Molecular Processes/Laboratory

4

BIO 4240

Neuromuscular Physiology

3

BIO 4259

Neuroscience II: Neural Systems

3

BIO 4320/L

Molecular Biology Techniques/Laboratory

4

BIO 4360/L

Recombinant DNA and Protein Technology/Laboratory

4

BIO 4380/L

Bioinformatics/Laboratory

4

BIO 4450/L

Physiology I: Cells/Laboratory

4

BIO 4460/L

Physiology II: Systems/Laboratory

4

BIO 4660/L

Microbial Physiology/Laboratory

4

BIO 4670/L

General Virology/Laboratory

4

CHM 2010/L

Elements of Organic Chemistry/Laboratory

4

CHM 2600

Introduction to Organic Molecular Modeling

3

CHM 3110

Classical Physical Chemistry

3

CHM 3120

Quantum Physical Chemistry

3

CHM 3140/L

Organic Chemistry/L

4

CHM 3210/3270L

OR CHM 3270/L

Elements of Biochemistry/Biochemistry Laboratory

Biochemistry I/Biochemistry Laboratory

4

CHM 4210

Solution Equilibria in Analytical Chemistry

2

 

Integrated Science Degree Option Electives

13 units from the list below are required

Course Number Course Name Units

PHY 4010/A

OR PHY 4140/A

OR PHY 4330/A

Quantum Mechanics I/Recitation Activity

Electricity and Magnetism I/Recitation Activity

Thermal and Statistical Physics/Recitation Activity

4

AST 3240/A

OR PHY 3040/L

OR PHY 4090/A

OR PHY 4170/L

OR PHY 4610/4620

Observational Astronomy/Computer Activity

Electronics for Scientists/Laboratory

Computational Physics/Activity

Wave Optics/Laboratory

Senior Project I/II

3

PHY 4510A/L

OR PHY 4520A/L

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Advanced Instrumentation Activity/Laboratory

Advanced Laboratory Physics - Contemporary Experiments Activity/Laboratory

2

 

PHY 2000

OR PHY 2990

OR PHY 4000

OR PHY 4410

OR PHY 4990

Supervised teaching experience or pedagogy seminar 

Special Study for Lower Division Students

Special Topics for Lower Division Students

Special Study for Upper Division Students

Internship in Physics

Special Topics for Upper Division Students

1

AST 3050

AST 3420

PHY 3010

PHY 3020

PHY 3060

Archaeoastronomy

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Energy and Society

Physics for Future Presidents

History of Physics

3

Additional courses must be taken to bring the total option elective units to 16; these may be to selected from any upper-division PHY or AST courses (except AST 3050, AST 3420, PHY 3010, and PHY 3020) or other approved upper-division math, science, and engineering courses. 

 

General Education Courses

The specific courses listed below are suggested for physics majors (regardless of degree option) in order to minimize the number of units required for graduation. Any course on the university's approved list or articulated transfer credit will meet the explicit general education requirement, but perhaps not some other prerequisite or graduation requirement.

Course Number Course/Area Name Units
Area A  English Language Communication and Critical Thinking  
—   1. Select one course in Oral Communication 3
 2. Select one course in Written Communication 3
 3. Select one course in Critical Thinking 3
Area B  Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning  
CHM 1210  1. General Chemistry I; satisfies Physical Sciences 3
 2. Select one course in Life Sciences* 3
CHM 1210L  3. General Chemistry I Laboratory; satisfies Laboratory Activity 1
MAT 1140/1150  4. Calculus I/II; satisfies Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning 4
 5. Select one course in Science and Technology Synthesis** 3
Area C  Arts and Humanities  
 1. Select one course in Visual and Performing Arts 3
 2a. Select one course in Philosophy and Civilization 3
 2b. Select one course in Lirature and Language Other than English 3
 3. Select one course in Arts and Humanities Synthesis 3
Area D  Social Sciences  
 1. Select one course that satisfies both U.S. History and American Ideals and American Cultural Perspectives requirements 3
 2. Select one course that satisfies both U.S. Constitution and California Government and Americal Cultural Perspectives requirements 3
 3. Select one course in Social Sciences: Principles, Methodologies, Value Systems, and Ethics 3
 4. Select one course in Social Science Synthesis 3
 Area E  Select one course in Lifelong Learning and Self-Development  3
American Cultural Perspectives Courses approved to satisfy this requirement may also satisfy one or more of the GE requirements above, check the university catalog listings.

*The Biophysics Degree Option requirements satisfy GE Area B2.

**The Integrated Science Degree Option requirements satisfy GE synthesis area B5.