Modified Paths through Physics

Timely graduation for 4-year students deviating from major planners

This is general advice, and does not substitute for meeting with an advisor. You should not finalize a course plan without consulting the Physics undergraduate advisor.


1. If you start the Physics major late, or are unable to complete some course, you may still be able to graduate in 4 years

If you complete PHYS 5ABC and the corequisite lab courses, MATH 19AB and MATH 23A, and most of your general education courses in your first two years, you can follow “Transfer Academic Plan Two” in the General Catalog and graduate in four years. Consult with the Physics undergraduate advisor to prepare a course plan. If you have additional courses completed, such as MATH 23B, CSE 20 or ASTR 119, PHYS 5D and/or MATH 116A, it will make your upper division schedule less packed and therefore more manageable.


2. If you are on-track at the end of the sophomore year and are unable to complete one of the courses in the junior or senior years, you should still be able to graduate in 4 years.

There are no long prerequisite chains among the courses shown in the third/fourth year of the 4-year planner. Some of the courses are offered multiple times a year. Consult with the Physics undergraduate advisor to prepare a course plan. (It is possible you may have to switch from Physics to Applied Physics or Physics (Astrophysics) to Physics.)

3. Minors that can often be completed in 4 years with the physics majors

The Physics,  Applied Physics and Physics (Astrophysics) majors require more courses than the average UCSC major. In addition, students entering UCSC as frosh must complete the College Core course. They must also complete courses that satisfy the General Education C, CC, ER, PE, PR, IM and TA requirements; other GE requirements are satisfied by courses that are completed for the major. (Transfer students may do the same, or complete the IGETC general education requirements before coming to UCSC.) As a result, it is very difficult to double major in a second STEM major and graduate in 4 years. However, students may be able to add an Electrical Engineering minor (for the Applied Physics major only), an Applied Mathematics minor, a Mathematics minor, or an Earth Sciences minor, and graduate in normative time. Adding other majors or minors may require taking courses during the summer, taking more than 15-16 credits per term, or graduating late. Consult with the Physics undergraduate advisor to prepare a course plan.