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The Bachelor of Science in Physics

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree: 120 units

See Bachelor's Degree Requirements in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements. A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division.

A suggested Major Academic Plan (MAP) has been prepared to help students meet all graduation requirements within four years. You can view MAPs on the Degree MAPs page in the University Catalog or you can request a plan from your major advisor.

General Education Pathway Requirements: 48 units

See General Education in the University Catalog and the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education Pathway Requirements and course offerings.

This major has approved GE modification(s). See below for information on how to apply these modification(s).

  • GEOS 300 is an approved major course substitution for Upper Division Natural Sciences.

Diversity Course Requirements: 6 units

See Diversity Requirements in the University Catalog. Most courses taken to satisfy these requirements may also apply to General Education .

Literacy Requirement:

See Mathematics and Writing Requirements in the University Catalog. Writing proficiency in the major is a graduation requirement and may be demonstrated through satisfactory completion of a course in your major which has been designated as the Writing Proficiency (WP) course for the semester in which you take the course. Students who earn below a C- are required to repeat the course and earn a C- or higher to receive WP credit. See the Class Schedule for the designated WP courses for each semester. You must complete the GE Written Communication (A2) requirement before you may register for a WP course.

Course Requirements for the Major: 70-78 units

Completion of the following courses, or their approved transfer equivalents, is required of all candidates for this degree.

Major Core Program: 49 units

Lower-Division Requirements: 36 units

9 courses required:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
Prerequisites: Completion of ELM requirement; second-year high school algebra; one year high school chemistry. (One year of high school physics and one year of high school mathematics past Algebra II are recommended.)
Principles of chemistry for students in science and engineering programs. Topics include atoms, molecules and ions, reactions, stoichiometry, the periodic table, bonding, chemical energy, gases, and solution chemistry. The laboratory sequence supports the above topics including both qualitative and quantitative experiments, analysis of data, and error propagation. 3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved General Education course. (001816)
Prerequisites: CHEM 111 with a grade of C- or better.
A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics include kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical thermodynamics, coordination chemistry, and nuclear chemistry. The laboratory sequence supports the above topics including both qualitative and quantitative experiments, analysis of data, and error propagation. 3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory. (001817)
Prerequisites: Completion of ELM requirement; both MATH 118 and MATH 119 (or high school equivalent); a score that meets department guidelines on a department administered calculus readiness exam must be achieved by those who claim high school equivalence.
Limits and continuity. The derivative and applications to related rates, maxma and minima, and curve sketching. Transcendental functions. An introduction to the definite integral and area. 4 hours discussion. This is an approved General Education course. (005506)
Prerequisites: MATH 120.
The definite integral and applications to area, volume, work, differential equations, etc. Sequences and series, vectors and analytic geometry in 2 and 3-space, polar coordinates, and parametric equations. 4 hours discussion. (005507)
Prerequisites: MATH 121.
Vector functions and space curves. Functions of several variables, partial derivatives, and multiple integrals. Vector calculus line integrals, surface integrals, divergence/curl, Green's Theorem, Divergence Theorem, and Stokes' Theorem. 4 hours discussion. (005508)
Prerequisites: MATH 121.
First order separable, linear, and exact equations; second order linear equations, Laplace transforms, series solutions at an ordinary point, systems of first order linear equations, and applications. 4 hours discussion. (005509)
Prerequisites: High school physics or faculty permission. Concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of MATH 121 (second semester of calculus) or equivalent.
Vectors, kinematics, particle dynamics, friction, work, energy, power, momentum, dynamics and statics of rigid bodies, oscillations, gravitation, fluids. Calculus used. A grade of C- or higher is required before progressing to either PHYS 204B or PHYS 204C. 3 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved General Education course. (007401)
Prerequisites: MATH 121, PHYS 204A with a grade of C- or higher.
Charge and matter, electric field, Gauss' law, electric potential, capacitors and dielectrics, current and resistance, magnetic field, Ampere's law, Faraday's law of induction, magnetic properties of matter, electromagnetic oscillations and waves. Calculus used. 3 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (007402)
Prerequisites: MATH 121, PHYS 204A with a grade of C- or higher.
Temperature, first and second law of thermodynamics, and kinetic theory. Waves in elastic media, standing waves and resonance, and sound. Ray and wave optics, reflection, refraction, lenses, mirrors, diffraction, and polarization. Selected topics in modern physics. Calculus used. 3 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (007403)

Upper-Division Requirements: 13 units

5 courses required:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
Prerequisites: PHYS 204A, PHYS 204B, PHYS 204C, or PHYS 202A and PHYS 202B and calculus with faculty permission.
This course focuses on the radical changes in our conception of the physical world that emerged in the early 20th and 21st centuries. The course begins with the theory of special relativity, which altered our understanding of the nature of space, time, matter, and energy. The course's middle section is devoted to the introduction of quantum theory. The last section introduces particle physics, general relativity, and cosmology. 3 hours discussion. (007417)
Prerequisite: PHYS 300. Recommended: MATH 361.
This course develops the laws of macroscopic equilibrium thermodynamics along with applications to representative physical problems. The course concludes with an investigation of the microscopic statistical properties underlying these laws. 3 hours discussion. (021447)
Prerequisite: PHYS 204A, PHYS 204B, PHYS 204C.
This course is an introduction to basic laboratory electronics for scientists. Topics include fundamentals of linear and non-linear circuit elements, operational amplifiers, simple digital circuits, A/D and D/A conversion, noise reduction, introductory-level LabVIEW programming, and an introduction to microcontroller systems. A weekly three hour lab gives students experience in designing, building, and debugging circuitry for laboratory/control tasks. 2 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (021423)
Prerequisites: Completion of GE Written Communication (A2) requirement, PHYS 300, PHYS 327.
Experiments involving atomic and nuclear physics, measurement of physical constants, chaos, solid-state physics, and general-purpose laboratory skills techniques including computerized data collection and analysis. 2 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved Writing Proficiency course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors. (007437)
Prerequisites: Upper-division standing in physics.
Presentation and discussion of reports based on current physics literature and/or special studies of students and faculty. 1 hour seminar. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. (007449)

Major Option Course Requirements: 21-29 units

The following courses, or their approved transfer equivalents, are required dependent upon the option chosen. Students must select one of the following options for completion of the major course requirements.  Use the links below to jump to your chosen option.



The Option in Professional Physics: 21 units

This option is for students who intend to pursue graduate study in physics or related fields or who plan to enter careers in technical fields.

Option Core: 12 units

4 courses required:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
Prerequisites: MATH 260.
Partial differential equations, separation of variables, orthogonal sets of functions, Sturm-Liouville problems, Fourier series, boundary value problems for the wave equation, heat equation, and Laplace equation; Bessel functions, Legendre polynomials. 3 hours discussion. (005540)
Prerequisites: MATH 260, PHYS 204A, PHYS 204B, PHYS 204C.
Newton's laws of motion, particle dynamics, accelerated reference systems, central force problems, conservation laws, and celestial mechanics. 3 hours discussion. (007419)
Prerequisites: MATH 260, PHYS 204A, PHYS 204B, PHYS 204C.
Vector analysis; electrostatic fields and potentials: Poisson's equation, boundary value problems and multipole expansions; dielectrics and magnetostatics. 3 hours discussion. (007422)
Prerequisites: MATH 361, PHYS 300.
A survey of one-dimensional and three-dimensional solutions to Schrodinger's equation designed to build an understanding of commutator algebra and Hilbert space. Formalisms associated with angular momentum and spin are included. 3 hours discussion. (007441)

Elective Requirements: 9 units

3 courses selected from:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
Prerequisites: PHYS 301A.
Many body systems, rotational motion, rigid body dynamics, Euler's equations, Lagrange's and Hamilton's formulations, oscillating systems and waves. 3 hours discussion. (007421)
Prerequisites: PHYS 302A or faculty permission.
Magnetic fields in matter, Maxwell's equations, field energy and momentum, Fresnel equations, propagation of electromagnetic waves in dispersive media, waveguides and coaxial cables, radiating systems. 3 hours discussion. (007425)
Prerequisites: PHYS 300. No previous computer experience necessary.
This course prepares physics majors to be self-sufficient in personal computer use to solve experimental and theoretical physics problems. Topics include, but are not limited to, analysis of experimental data, projectile motion, random processes, vector fields and potentials, vibrating systems, and electric circuits. 2 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (007411)
Prerequisites: MATH 361, PHYS 300A.
This course develops the formation of statistical mechanics and applies it to a deeper study of the laws of thermodynamics, states of matter and radiation, kinetic-theory, and phase transitions. 3 hours discussion. (007434)
Prerequisites: PHYS 435A.
This course extends the use of Schrodinger's equation with a variety of approximation methods to study physical systems including atomic physics, nuclear structure, and scattering problems. 3 hours discussion. (007444)
Prerequisites: PHYS 204A, PHYS 204B, PHYS 204C.
This course is also offered as EECE 450 .
Geometrical and physical optics, interference, diffraction, reflection, dispersion, resolution, polarization, fiber optics, laser optics, and holography. 2 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (002549)
Prerequisites: PHYS 204C. Recommended: EECE 450 or PHYS 450.
This course is also offered as EECE 451 .
The theory and mechanism of laser action, various types of lasers and their applications and future use. Laboratory involves measurements with lasers, fiber optics, data transmission, and holography. 2 hours discussion, 3 hours laboratory. (002550)

The Option in General Physics: 29 units

This option fulfills all requirements for the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Science with a Concentration in Physics and a supplementary authorization in a second science. This option is also excellent preparation for students considering physics-related interdisciplinary fields. Students who choose this option should consult with their major advisor.

5 courses required:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
Prerequisites: Recommend CHEM 111 or concurrent enrollment.
Introduction to biological molecules, bioenergetics, cellular structure and function, elements of molecular biology and genetics, and mechanisms of macroevolution and systematics. 3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved General Education course. (001122)
Prerequisites: BIOL 151 or faculty permission; recommend CHEM 112 or concurrent enrollment.
Introduction to evolutionary history and biological diversity, microbes and protists, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Form and function of plants and animals. Ecological principles. 3 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved General Education course. (001123)
Prerequisites: High school chemistry or physics is recommended; students with no previous science courses are advised to enroll in GEOS 101. No college credit for those who have passed GEOS 101.
Physical and chemical processes in the earth, including origin and identification of rocks and minerals; earth's interior; movements and major features of the earth's crust; erosion and sedimentation; geological structures; topographic maps; mineral resources. 2 hours lecture, 3 hours laboratory. This is an approved General Education course. (004069)
Prerequisites: Completion of GE Written Communication (A2) requirement; CHEM 107 or CHEM 111; PHYS 202A or PHYS 204A or PHYS 341.
An intermediate treatment of astronomy, meteorology, and oceanography, with emphasis on climate change and its impacts. 3 hours discussion. This is an approved Writing Proficiency course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors. (004137)
Prerequisites: PHYS 327 and faculty permission.
This is a supervised internship in physics teaching which will take place in a local high school physics classroom. This course may be taken more than once, but a maximum of 3 units of any PHYS 289 may be counted toward the degree. This course cannot be used for the minor in physics. 9 hours supervision. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 15.0 units. Credit/no credit grading. (007448)

Breadth Requirements: 12 units

12 units required:

Any non-General Education courses in Chemistry (CHEM), Biology (BIOL), or Geoscience (GEOS). All 12 units must be selected from one department.

Electives Requirement:

To complete the total units required for the bachelor's degree, select additional elective courses from the total University offerings. You should consult with an advisor regarding the selection of courses which will provide breadth to your University experience and possibly apply to a supportive second major or minor.

Grading Requirement:

All courses taken to fulfill major course requirements must be taken for a letter grade except those courses specified by the department as Credit/No Credit grading only.

Advising Requirement:

Advising is mandatory for all majors in this degree program. Consult your undergraduate advisor for specific information.

Catalog Cycle:16