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
LowerDivision 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
UpperDivision 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 upperdivision 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 upperdivision 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
LowerDivision 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
UpperDivision 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, OrderofMagnitude 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
LowerDivision 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
UpperDivision 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 upperdivision 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.