Undergraduate Program Overview

For information about qualifying for and declaring your major or minor, as well as other requirements, please see our Major/Minor Information page

Physics is the study of Nature and the Universe at all scales, from subatomic particles to the largest superclusters of galaxies, with emphasis on quantitative understanding of fundamental interactions of matter.  It encompasses study of not only the most fundamental laws of Nature but also emergent phenomena in complex systems, such as materials of great importance to technology and daily life, and even biological systems.  Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, Hartmut with studentsperhaps the oldest when astronomy is included, and it remains today both an exciting field at the frontier of knowledge and a fundamental underpinning of all science and technology.  Research in physics has often provided explanations for fundamental mechanisms in other sciences and has frequently opened up new research areas in mathematics and philosophy as well as a plethora of new technologies.

An undergraduate degree in physics is generally recognized to be good training for a broad range of careers.  It not only prepares students labfor graduate studies in physics and astrophysics, but when combined with appropriate courses in other disciplines it provides excellent preparation for advanced study in many technical subjects, including biology, chemistry, engineering, geophysics, philosophy of science, and even medicine or law.  New physics graduates are also enthusiastically recruited by many industries, especially those involved with advanced technology, and they are in high demand to teach physical science in middle schools and high schools.

The physics department offers three majors: Physics, Physics (Astrophysics), and Applied Physics. Each shares the same rigorous core of lower and upper division classes, with the differences appearing primarily in the upper-division electives chosen.

All three major programs offered by the physics department involve a carefully constructed 4-year sequence of courses that build on the foundation established in Physics 5A/B/C in the freshman year.  Sample course planners and other information about major requirements are available here .


Our physics advising office is now located in the Interdisciplanary Sciences Building (ISB) 211

General Office Hours:  

Monday through Friday 9 am - 12 noon and 1 pm - 4 pm 

Advising Office Hours:

  • Students should email physicsadvising@ucsc.edu to schedule an appointment. 
  • Appointment availability is limited until further notice.

Email Physics Undergraduate Advisor at: physicsadvising@ucsc.edu