Physics Major and Minor Requirements

 Alan Idelkope '19 learning to solder

Major Requirements

The requirements for a major in physics total 11.5 course units, which include three half-unit courses, PHYS 317, 318, and 452. PHYS 151, 152, 221, 222, 307, 308, 333, 489 (or 498) and one additional full-unit course at the 400 level make up the other ten course units.  In preparation for senior-year research, we strongly recommend that physics majors take PHYS 452 in their junior year.

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 during the sophomore year. Majors considering the possibility of graduate study in physics are strongly encouraged to take PHYS 401. Also recommended for the major are MATH 217 and 230 and CHEM 103 and 104.


To qualify for honors, students must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. A major in physics that includes at least three units of 400-level work in physics, not including units earned in the seminar series 451-454.
  2. Submission for departmental evaluation of a copy of an independent project undertaken in the senior year.
  3. A minimum grade point average of 3.5 over all courses in the major. (See Honors in the Curriculum chapter of this Catalog.)

Minor Requirements

A minor in physics consists of PHYS 151, 152, 221, 222, plus one unit at the 300 level or above selected from the following courses: 307 or 333 or a combination of any two of 317, 318, and 452.

Basic Engineering Combined Plan

Students in the engineering combined plan who choose physics as a major must complete eight course units in physics, which include 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 can be found on the Engineering Majors Requirements page. 

Certification to Teach Physics

The teacher certification minor is only available to students who matriculated before fall semester 2019. For information on teacher certification options approved by the New York State Board of Regents, requirements for the certification minor, and the requirements for the professional semester (including student teaching) please go to the Education department website or contact the Coordinator of the Teacher Education Program. Students who are eligible to pursue this minor must complete all requirements and the professional semester by the end of spring semester 2022.