Physics Major

Physics students launch rocket

Students in Introductory Physics Lab Launch a Rocket

The physics major is intended to prepare students for advanced study in physics or engineering, for teaching high school physics, for a career in industrial research and development, government research laboratories, or any career involving quantitative problem solving and analysis.

The requirements for the physics major and physics minor are given below.

Physics Major Requirements

The minimum requirements for a physics major are 12.25 courses as follows. Students considering graduate school in physics should consider additional courses as discussed below.


  • Phys 191 General Physics I
  • Phys 192 General Physics II
  • Phys 230 Modern Physics
  • Phys 271 Experimental Physics I (.5 course)
  • Phys 370 Physics Seminar (.25 course)

Choose two of the following four courses:

  • Phys 310 Thermal Physics
  • Phys 320 Classical Mechanics
  • Phys 340 Electromagnetic Fields
  • Phys 360 Quantum Mechanics

Choose two and a half courses:

  • Physics Electives 200-level or above


  • Phys 385 Capstone Completion (no credit)

Required Supporting Courses:

  • Math 151 Calculus I
  • Math 152 Calculus II
  • Math 251 Calculus III
  • Math 345 Differential Equations

In addition to the required courses specified above, physics students are encouraged to consider additional physics electives according to their career goals as well as the following supporting courses: Math 255 Linear Algebra, CmSc 150, (155) Fundamentals of Computing I (II), and Chem 101 (102) Bonds and Structures I (II). For those students interested in graduate school in physics (or closely related area), it is virtually imperative to take all four of the 300-level physics theory courses: Phys 310 Thermal Physics, Phys 320 Classical Mechanics, Phys 340 Electromagnetic Fields, and Phys 360 Quantum Mechanics.

Physics Capstone:

The physics capstone will require a student to demonstrate advanced and/or integrated disciplinary knowledge in the context of an approved experience, such as a research project. The capstone experience will culminate in a written and oral report directed to the student’s scientific peers. The capstone experience will normally be based on one of the following: summer research in physics (including at another institution), on campus physics research (Phys 398), an appropriate internship, student teaching in physics, or additional exploration of an approved topic such as from Physics Seminar (Phys 370) or Experimental Physics II (Phys 371). Ideally, students should begin planning this experience with a member of the physics department by spring of their junior year. Enrollment in Physics 385 Capstone Completion in physics is required to verify satisfactory completion of the capstone. Note: Students whose capstone experience is student teaching in physics are not required to enroll in Physics 385 (neither is any other paper or oral report required).