Frosh Information

Welcome! Now that you are a registered freshman, the following information is your guide to getting started in your Physics major...

All freshmen are encouraged to attend summer orientation. To register visit Campus Orientation Programs

As a reference, we provide an online Freshmen Orientation that includes everything you need to know to get started on your Physics major.  

If you have already attended orientation and simply need a refresher on getting enrolled, see the NEW STUDENT MAJOR ADVISING SUMMARY FOR 2017-2018 FROSH.  Remember, all courses for your Physics major must be taken for a letter grade. 

For more information on grades, see the Navigator:

Students with Advanced Placement credit must provide Admissions an official copy of your test score.  You can verify your AP credit in your MyUCSC portal. For information on how your AP credit applies to your enrollment and your major, see the Advanced Placement Credit information at the end of this page.

If you have taken a college-level course that you would like credit for, you must send an official transcript to Admissions.  If you wish to have that same course applied toward your major requirements, send an unofficial copy of your transcripts to the Physics adviser Maria Nishanian at: physicsadvising@ucsc.edu.

For new students, the primary concern is getting enrolled.  Here is a quick overview of how to assess where you are at and which courses you should enroll in....

What classes do I enroll in to start my physics major?

Students begin with math and physics. Students must begin with the PHYS 5 series in the fall in order to stay on track.  Using the following information, students should prioritize their enrollment in math and physics courses.  Remember, all courses for your major must be taken for a letter grade - see our Letter Grade Policy.

What math class should I enroll in?

Take the Mathematics Placement. Your score will determine which math course you can enroll in.  

Which calculus series should I take?

UCSC offers several calculus sequences.  MATH 19AB or 20AB are recommended options for physics majors.

MATH 19 series, Calulus for Science, Engineering, And Mathematics, the most common series for physics majors.

MATH 20 series, Honors Calculus.

Which physics series should I take?

UCSC offers two introductory physics series:  Physics 5A/L, B/M, C/N and Physics 6A/L, B/M, C/N.  All physics students must take the 5 series.

When should I take math?

You should take math in your first quarter.  

When should I take physics?

All physics majors should take physics 5A their first quarter at UCSC.  Students who do not place into Math 19A or higher will take an additional year to complete their degree.

Students with Advanced Placement credit must provide Admissions an official copy of your test score.  You can verify your AP credit in your MyUCSC portal

Physics AP credit

Please check here the AP credit scores for Physics.

Math AP credit

Below is a list of AP credit by subject and test score, the UCSC course credit equivalent to that score, the course(s) that score allows you to enroll in, and the major credit you receive towards your Physics major:

AP Subject Score UCSC equivalency:   Enroll in: Physics Major Credit:
Calculus AB 3+ MATH 3 MATH 19A   none
Calculus AB 4, 5 MATH 11A, 19A MATH 19B MATH 19A
Calculus BC 3+ MATH 11A, 19A MATH 19B MATH 19A
Calculus BC 4, 5 MATH 11AB, 19AB MATH 23A MATH 19AB
Chemistry 5 CHEM 1A NA CHEM 1A 
(Applied Physics only)
Physics 3+ units only NA none