BA Physics

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Program Learning Objectives 

  1. Demonstrate a good understanding of both the theoretical concepts and mathematical techniques of the major fields of physics: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum physics.
  2. Work safely with modern laboratory equipment to carry out measurements and analyze data.
  3. Use computers to perform numerical computations, to simulate physical phenomena, and to collect and analyze data in the laboratory.
  4. Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
  5. Move successfully into graduate school or a career in teaching or industry.

Degree Requirements and Curriculum

In addition to the program requirements listed on this page, students must also satisfy requirements outlined in more detail in the Minimum Requirements for Graduation section of this catalog, including:

  • 60 units of upper-division courses
  • Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR)
  • 2.0 GPA
  • U.S. Cultural Pluralism (USCP)

Note: No Major courses with a lab component may be selected as credit/no credit.1

Note: Students intending to double major must consult the Physics department chair, preferably prior to sophomore year.

PHYS 141General Physics I4
PHYS 142General Physics II (B1 & B3) 1,24
PHYS 143General Physics III 14
PHYS 206Electronics and Instrumentation 14
or PHYS 202 Physics on the Computer
PHYS 211Modern Physics I4
PHYS 212Modern Physics II4
PHYS 301Thermal Physics I4
PHYS 305Classical Mechanics I (Upper-Division B) 24
PHYS 320Methods of Theoretical Physics I4
PHYS 405Quantum Mechanics I4
PHYS 408Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I4
PHYS 461Senior Project I2
MATH 141Calculus I (B4) 24
MATH 142Calculus II (GE Electives) 24
MATH 143Calculus III4
MATH 206Linear Algebra I4
MATH 241Calculus IV4
MATH 242Differential Equations I4
Approved Electives
Select from the following:22
Laboratory Electives
Select one from the following: 1,3
Observational Astronomy
Quantum Physics Laboratory I
Quantum Physics Laboratory II
Advanced Instrumentation in Experimental Physics
Polymer Electronics Laboratory
Advanced Optics
Solid State Physics Laboratory
Nonlinear Dynamical Systems
Technical Electives
Select 14 units from the following: 1,4,5
Any 300-400 level courses with PHYS, ASTR, or GEOL prefix. 6
OR one of the following:
The Scientific Revolution, c. 1500-1800
Philosophy of Science
Ethics, Science and Technology
Philosophy of Space, Time and Matter
Breadth Electives
Select 7 units from any 300-400 level course or PHYS 100, PHYS 220.
(See GE program requirements below.)56
Free Electives 7,832
Total units180

General Education (GE) Requirements

  • 72 units required, 16 of which are specified in Major and/or Support.
  • If any of the remaining 56 units is used to satisfy a Major or Support requirement, additional units of Free Electives may be needed to complete the total units required for the degree.
  • See the complete GE course listing.
  • A grade of C- or better is required in one course in each of the following GE Areas: A1 (Oral Communication), A2 (Written Communication), A3 (Critical Thinking), and B4 (Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning). 
Area AEnglish Language Communication and Critical Thinking
A1Oral Communication4
A2Written Communication4
A3Critical Thinking4
Area BScientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning
B1Physical Science (4 units in Major) 10
B2Life Science4
B3One lab taken with either a B1 or B2 course
B4Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning (4 units in Major) 10
Upper-Division B (4 units in Major) 10
Area CArts and Humanities
Lower-division courses in Area C must come from three different subject prefixes.
C1Arts: Arts, Cinema, Dance, Music, Theater4
C2Humanities: Literature, Philosophy, Languages other than English4
Lower-Division C Elective - Select a course from either C1 or C24
Upper-Division C4
Area DSocial Sciences - Select courses in Area D from at least two different prefixes
D1American Institutions (Title 5, Section 40404 Requirement)4
D2Lower-Division D4
Upper-Division D4
Area ELifelong Learning and Self-Development
Lower-Division E4
Area F Ethnic Studies
F Ethnic Studies4
GE Electives in Areas B, C, and D
Select courses from two different areas; may be lower-division or upper-division courses.
GE Electives (4 units in Major plus 4 units in GE) 14
Total units56