Major Requirements

The catalog is the document of record for major and program requirements. It is updated annually.

Students may follow the degree requirements from either the UCSC General Catalog published at the time of entering UCSC or subsequent catalog(s). Students need not follow a catalog in its entirety, but may elect to follow different catalog years for their college requirements, university and general education requirements, the requirements of their major(s), and the requirements of any minor(s). The catalog year will initially be set for the first year of enrollment at UCSC. Students may elect to follow major or minor requirements from other catalog years(s) when filing the Petition for Declaration of Major/Minor.

Physics B.S.

Requirements of the Major

Lower-Division Requirements

Calculus:  MATH 19A or 20A, and MATH 19B or 20B
Vector Calculus:  MATH 23A and 23B
Introductory Physics:  PHYS 5A/L, 5B/M, 5C/N, and 5D
Programming:  CMPS 5J, 5P, or higher level programming course; or ASTR/EART 119 or PHYS 115; or equivalent

Upper-Division Requirements

Modern Physics:  PHYS 102
Mathematical Methods:  PHYS 116A, 116B, and 116C
Mechanics:  PHYS 105
Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics:  PHYS 110A and 110B
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics:  PHYS 112
Intermediate and Advanced Laboratory:  PHYS 133 and 134
Quantum Mechanics:  PHYS 139A

Electives

Two courses, each 5 credits or more, chosen from upper-division elective courses offered by the Physics Department or Astronomy and Astrophysics courses 111 through 118. In some cases, one of the elective requirements may be satisfied by an approved upper-division science or engineering course.

Senior Thesis Requirement

PHYS 182 and senior thesis

Physics B.S.: Freshman Academic Plan

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frosh)
MATH 19A (or 20A) MATH 19B (or 20B) MATH 23A
PHYS 5A/L* PHYS 5B/M
2nd
(soph)

MATH 23B

PHYS 102 PHYS 116B

PHYS 5C/N

PHYS 116A Programming
requirement
PHYS 5D
3rd
(junior)
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 PHYS 139A
PHYS 133 PHYS 134
4th
(senior)
PHYS 182
Elective Elective

*Students who complete the equivalent of MATH 19A before coming to UCSC can take the PHYS 5A, 5B, 5C courses and the MATH 19B, 23A, 23B courses in their first year.

Physics B.S. Transfer Academic Plan One

For students who have completed the equivalent of Physics 5D:

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(junior)
MATH 23B PHYS 112 Programming 
requirement
PHYS 102 PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
AMS 5 or 131* PHYS 133 PHYS 134
2nd
(senior)
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 139A
PHYS 182 Elective Elective

*Not required for the major, but needed in order to take PHYS 112 next term

Students who wish to do a more demanding senior thesis or seek greater flexibility in choosing electives may consider delaying graduation.

Physics B.S. Transfer Academic Plan Two

For students who have not completed the equivalent of Physics 5D:

Fall Winter Spring
1st
Year
MATH 23B PHYS 102 PHYS 116B
PHYS 5D PHYS 116A PHYS 134
Programming 
requirement
PHYS 133
2nd
Year
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 PHYS 139A
PHYS 182 Elective
3rd
Year
Elective

Physics (Astrophysics) B.S.

Requirements of the Major

Lower-Division Requirements

Calculus:  MATH 19A or 20A and 19B or 20B
Vector Calculus:  MATH 23A and 23B
Introductory Physics:  PHYS 5A/L, 5B/M, 5C/N, and 5D
Programming:  ASTR/EART 119 (recommended); or CMPS 5J, 5P, or higher level programming course; or PHYS 115; or equivalent

Upper-Division Requirements

Modern Physics:  PHYS 102
Mathematical Methods:  PHYS 116A, 116B, and 116C
Mechanics:  PHYS 105
Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics:  PHYS 110A and 110B
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics:  PHYS 112
Intermediate Laboratory: PHYS 133
Advanced Laboratory:  PHYS 135 or (PHYS 135A and 135B) or PHYS 136
Quantum Mechanics:  PHYS 139A

Electives

Complete three courses, each 5 credits or more, chosen from the following:

ASTR 111, Order-of-Magnitude Astrophysics
ASTR 112, Physics of Stars
ASTR 113, Introduction to Cosmology
ASTR 117, High Energy Astrophysics
ASTR 118, Physics of Planetary Systems
ASTR 257, Modern Astronomical Techniques
ASTR/PHYS 171, General Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology
PHYS 129, Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics
EART 160, Planetary Science
EART 162, Planetary Interiors
EART 163, Planetary Surfaces
EART 164, Planetary Atmospheres 

Senior Thesis Requirement

PHYS 182 and senior thesis

Physics (Astrophysics) B.S.: Freshman Academic Plan

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frosh)
MATH 19A (or 20A) MATH 19B (or 20B) MATH 23A
PHYS 5A/L* PHYS 5B/M
2nd
(soph)
MATH 23B PHYS 102 PHYS 116B
PHYS 5D PHYS 116A
PHYS 5C/N ASTR 119
3rd
(junior)
PHYS 105
PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 PHYS 139A
PHYS 133 Elective Elective/PHYS 136
4th
(senior)
PHYS 182 Elective
PHYS 135/Elective

*Students who complete the equivalent of MATH 19A before coming to UCSC can take the PHYS 5A, 5B, 5C courses and the MATH 19B, 23A, 23B courses in their first year.

Physics (Astrophysics) B.S.: Transfer Academic Plan One

For students who have completed the equivalent of Physics 5D.

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(junior)
MATH 23B PHYS 133 PHYS 136/Elective
PHYS 102 PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
ASTR 119 Elective Elective
2nd
(senior)
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 PHYS 139A
PHYS 135/Elective PHYS 182

Students who wish to do a more demanding senior thesis or seek greater flexibility in choosing electives may consider delaying graduation.

Physics (Astrophysics) B.S.: Transfer Academic Plan Two

For students who have not completed the equivalent of Physics 5D.

Fall Winter Spring
1st
Year
MATH 23B PHYS 102 PHYS 136/Elective
PHYS 5D PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
ASTR 119 PHYS 133
2nd
Year
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 Elective
PHYS 182/PHYS 135 Elective/PHYS 182 PHYS 139A
3rd
Year
Elective

Applied Physics B.S.

Requirements of the Major

Lower-Division Requirements

Calculus:  MATH 19A, or 20A and MATH 19B or 20B
Vector Calculus:  MATH 23A and 23B
Introductory Physics:  PHYS 5A/L, 5B/M, 5C/N, and 5D
General Chemistry:  CHEM 1A or 1B
Programming:  CMPS 5J, 5P, or higher level programming course; or ASTR/EART 119 or PHYS 115; or equivalent

Upper-Division Requirements

Modern Physics:  PHYS 102
Mathematical Methods:  PHYS 116A, 116B, and 116C
Mechanics:  PHYS 105
Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics:  PHYS 110A and 110B
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics:  PHYS 112
Intermediate and Advanced Laboratory:  PHYS 133 and 134

Students may take EE 135/L instead of PHYS 110A and 110B, and PHYS 160 instead of PHYS 134. This is not recommended for students who wish to pursue graduate studies in physics.

Electives

Complete three courses, each 5 credits or more, chosen from the following:

PHYS/AMS 107, Introduction to Fluid Dynamics
PHYS 115, Computational Physics
PHYS 120, Polymer Physics
PHYS 139A, Quantum Physics
PHYS 139B, Quantum Physics
PHYS 152, Optoelectronics
PHYS 155, Solid State Physics
PHYS 156, Applications of Solid State Physics
PHYS 160, Practical Electronics
PHYS 180, Biophysics

Courses from other departments listed at the Approved Electives webpage or other courses with approval of the undergraduate faculty adviser.

Senior Thesis Requirement

PHYS 182 and senior thesis

Applied Physics B.S.: Freshman Academic Plan

Plan 1: For students who place into MATH 19A or MATH 20A.

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frosh)
MATH 19A or 20A MATH 19B or 20B MATH 23A
PHYS 5A/L* PHYS 5B/M
CHEM 1A/B
2nd
(soph)
MATH 23B
PHYS 102 Programming requirement
PHYS 5C/N PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
PHYS 5D
3rd
(junior)
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 Elective/PHYS 160
PHYS 133 PHYS 134/Elective
4th
(senior)
PHYS 182 Elective
Elective

*Students who complete the equivalent of MATH 19A before coming to UCSC can take the PHYS 5A, 5B, 5C courses and the MATH 19B, 23A, 23B courses in their first year.

Applied Physics B.S.: Transfer Academic Plan One

For students who have completed the equivalent of Physics 5D.

Fall Winter Spring
1st
(junior)
MATH 23B PHYS 133 PHYS 134/PHYS 160
PHYS 102 PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
Programming 
requirement
Elective CHEM 1A/B
2nd
(senior)
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 Elective
PHYS 182 Elective

Students who wish to do a more demanding senior thesis or seek greater flexibility in choosing electives may consider delaying graduation.

Applied Physics B.S.: Transfer Academic Plan Two

For students who have not completed the equivalent of Physics 5D.

Fall Winter Spring
1st
Year
MATH 23B PHYS 102 CHEM 1A/B
PHYS 5D PHYS 116A PHYS 116B
Programming 
requirement
PHYS 133 PHYS 134/PHYS 160
2nd
Year
PHYS 105 PHYS 110A PHYS 110B
PHYS 116C PHYS 112 Elective
PHYS 182 Elective
3rd
Year
Elective

 

PHYS 6A to PHYS 5B Transition:  Students who earn an A in PHYS 6A may transition to the Physics 5 series and enroll in PHYS 5B; to enroll, contact your program advisor.  

Math 11A to Math 19B Transition: Students who are changing majors and who have received high grades in MATH 11A may petition to enroll in PHYS 5A, as long as they are taking MATH 19B concurrently. Students who have taken MATH 11B must pass MATH 19B before enrolling in PHYS 5B or 5C. Petitions are emailed to physicsadvising@ucec.edu

AMS 11A will not satisfy the prerequisites for any of the Physics courses.  Students who have taken AMS 11A will have to take MATH 11A or MATH 19A to qualify for those courses.

Programming Requirement

Students in the Physics B.S., Physics (Astrophysics) B.S., and Applied Physics B.S. majors have to satisfy a computer programming requirement by taking one of the courses listed in the major requirements given above. Of these courses, ASTR/EART 119 teaches programming and simple applications. PHYS 115 does not teach programming; it assumes basic programming ability in Python, C++ or a similar language and discusses numerical techniques relevant to physics. The other courses listed teach programming. Students may also satisfy the computer programming requirement by demonstrating their knowledge of programming to a faculty member designated by the Physics Department. For instructions on how to demonstrate your programming skills, go to the Completing the Major webpage.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy the upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. Students in Physics, Applied Physics, and Physics (Astrophysics), satisfy the DC requirement by completing Physics 182 and the senior thesis.

Comprehensive Requirement

The comprehensive exit requirement is normally satisfied by the submission and approval of a thesis. To satisfy the comprehensive requirement via a thesis Physics 182 is required.

In special cases, minor modifications of these requirements may be granted to suit the specific program of a particular student. Before embarking on a program needing such waivers, students should discuss their plans with their faculty mentor and seek approval by petition from the Physics Department office.