Degrees and Programs

Major in Physics

The requirements for a major in physics total 10 course units, which include two half-unit laboratory courses (Phys 317 and 318):

  • Phys 151 & 152 - University Physics
  • Phys 221 & 222 - Modern Physics
  • Phys 307 - Classical Mechanics
  • Phys 308 - Electricity and Magnetism
  • Phys 317 - Instrumentation Lab
  • Phys 318 - Electronics Lab
  • Phys 333 - Mathematical Methods of Physics
  • Phys 489 or 498 - SYE: Advanced Laboratory (or Advanced Lab with Honors)
  • One additional course unit at the 400 level

The three-course calculus sequence (Math 135, 136, 205) should be completed as soon as possible. Since physics students make extensive use of computers, potential majors are advised to enroll in CS 140 (Intro to Computer Programming) during the sophomore year. Majors considering the possibility of graduate study in physics are strongly encouraged to take Physics 401 - Quantum Mechanics. Also recommended for the major are Math 217 (Linear Algebra) and Math 230 (Differential Equations), and Chem 103 & 104 (General Chemistry) or Chem 105 (Accelerated General Chemistry).

Junior Year Abroad

See "How to Major in Physics and Go Abroad"

Minor in Physics

A minor in physics consists of Phys 151 & 152 (University Physics) and 221 & 222 (Modern Physics), plus one unit at the 300 level or above selected from the following courses:

  • 1 unit: Phys 307 (Classical Mechanics)
  • 1 unit: Phys 333 (Mathematical Methods of Physics)


  • 0.5 units: Phys 317 (Instrumentation Lab)
  • 0.5 units: Phys 318 (Electronics Lab)
  • 0.5 units: Phys 452 (Seminar in Contemporary Physics)

Biology-Physics Interdisciplinary Major

A major in Biology-Physics consists of four biology course units, four physics courses, two Chemistry course units, two more upper level biology or physics courses, and a senior research project. More information can be found on the Biology-Physics Major page.

Geology-Physics Interdisciplinary Major

A major in Geology-Physics consists of five course units of geology, four and one half units of physics, two more upper level geology or physics courses and a senior research project. More information can be found on the Geology-Physics Major page.

3+2 Engineering Combined Program

Students in the 3+2 Engineering Combined program who choose physics as a major must complete eight course units in physics, which includes two half-unit courses (Phys 317 and 318). Phys 151, 152, 221, 222, 307, 308 and 333 make up the remaining seven units. Other requirements for the engineering combined plan are given on the 3+2 Engineering Combined Programs page.

Certification to Teach Physics

Students seeking initial certification as a 7-12 physics teacher in New York must major in physics and also complete the certification minor in education. Physics majors intending to complete student teaching after graduation in the University's Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program must complete the physics major and the educational studies minor in education (or its equivalent) as undergraduates. Consult the "Education" section of the University Catalog and/or speak to the coordinator of the teacher education program in the Department of Education as early as possible.