Requirements for Major
The Department of Physics offers both Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. In addition, there is an Astronomy/Physics B.A. offered jointly by the Astronomy and Physics departments. The basic B.A. is designed for students interested in physics and planning to enter other fields including medicine, education, business, and law, and for liberal arts students seeking a strong background in physics. Students planning graduate study in physics or physics-related areas should elect the B.S., the B.A. with a Distinguished Major course sequence, or the Astronomy/Physics B.A. Two special concentrations can be pursued by students in either the B.A. or the B.S. programs: a Computational Physics Concentration (PHYS 4630 & 5640 Computational Physics I & II); or an Optics Concentration (PHYS 5310 Optics, PHYS 5320 Fundamentals of Photonics). Students are urged to contact a physics undergraduate advisor as early as possible to design a program to fit their specific needs.
There are several course sequences leading to the physics major. For all of them it is highly desirable to complete MATH 1310, 1320 or equivalent courses in calculus by the end of the first year. However, it is possible to begin calculus in the second year and complete the requirements for the B.A.
Requirements for the B.A. in Physics
There are two options leading to the B.A. in physics, each having three components:
For either of the options, a year of chemistry may be substituted for one of the 3000-level physics courses in component (3). MATH 3255 is not required for the B.A. degree, but it is a prerequisite for many of the courses at 300-level and above. Students choosing Option II who want more extensive preparation in basic physics and those planning to take physics courses numbered 3150 and higher should replace PHYS 2030, 2040 in component (2) with the higher-level laboratory sequence PHYS 2630, 2640, to be taken after completing PHYS 2310, 2320. It is also possible to enter the physics sequence through PHYS 1425. Students wishing to use this route should consult one of the physics undergraduate advisors.
1. Prerequisites - MATH 1310, 1320 and PHYS1610, 1620
2. MATH 2310 and PHYS 2610, 2620, 2630, 2640
3. Three courses chosen from PHYS 2660 and/or 3000-level physics courses
1. Prerequisites - MATH 1310, 1320
2. MATH 2310 and PHYS 2310, 2320, 2030, 2040, 2620
3. Four courses chosen from PHYS 2660 and/or 3000-level physics courses
Bachelor of Arts with Distinguished Major Course Sequence
This sequence may be entered using components (1) and (2) of either option I or II above. Component (3) is replaced by the following requirements: MATH 3255, PHYS 2660, 3170, 3210, 3310, 3420, 3650, 3660, 3993 and one 3000-5000-level physics elective.
Requirements for the B.S. in Physics
The requirements for the B.S. in Physics are the completion of the Distinguished Major course sequence plus Math 5210, 5220 (or equivalent APMA courses) and PHYS 3430. Except for Echols scholars, the requirements for the B.S. in Physics include completion of the standard College of Arts and Sciences competency and area requirements.
A minimum cumulative 2.000 GPA in all required courses must be achieved for graduation as a physics major.
Distinguished Major Program
The Distinguished Major Program provides recognition of outstanding academic performance in a challenging sequence of physics courses including an independent study project. Students who complete the distinguished majors course sequence or the B.S. requirements with final grade point averages exceeding 3.400, 3.600, or 3.800, are given departmental recommendation to receive their degrees (B.A. or B.S.) with distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction, respectively.
Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy-Physics
This program is offered jointly by the Astronomy and Physics departments and prepares students for graduate study in astronomy, physics, computer science, and related fields. The students take MATH 1310, 1320, 2310, 3255, 5210, 5220; PHYS1610, 1620, 2610, 2620, 2630, 2640, 2660, 3210, 3310, 3420, 3430, 3650; and ASTR 2110, 2120, 3130, 4993, 4998 (Senior Thesis), and six additional credits of 3000-5000 level astronomy courses. Prospective astronomy-physics major are strongly urged to consult with a physics undergraduate advisor during registration week of their first semester. Students in this program have advisors in both departments.
Requirements for Minor
A minor in physics can be earned through one of the following course sequences: (1) PHYS1610, 1620, 2610, 2620and either 2630 or any 3000-level physics course; (2) PHYS 2310, 2320, 2030, 2040, 2620 and any 3000-level physics course; (3) PHYS 1425 and 1429, 2415 and 2419, 2620, and any 3000-level physics course.
For more information, contact Bascom Deaver, Chair of the Undergraduate Program Committee, Physics Department Office, Jesse W. Beams Laboratory of Physics, P.O. Box 400714, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4714, (434) 924-3781; firstname.lastname@example.org
. A detailed departmental brochure is available.
Overview of Courses in Introductory Physics
The Physics Department offers a wide range of courses and course sequences in introductory physics available to students with no previous preparation in physics. Some satisfy specific requirements for science, engineering and premedical students, while others are intended primarily for liberal arts students. They should be considered in the following three categories:
Courses for Non-Science Majors
PHYS 1010, 1020, 1050, 1060, 1090, 1110, and 1150 are intended primarily for students desiring an introduction to some important topics in physics but whose primary interests are in areas other than science. All of them satisfy the College science requirement and all use only high school-level mathematics.
Introductory Physics without Calculus
The two-semester sequence PHYS 2010, 2020 provides a comprehensive introduction to physics requiring only algebra and trigonometry. Taken together with the associated laboratory courses PHYS 2030 and 2040, they satisfy the requirements for medical and dental schools. This sequence is not sufficient preparation for more advanced courses in physics, except for PHYS 3040.
Introductory Physics with Calculus
There are three course sequences that provide the basis for taking more advanced courses in physics and for entering a physics major or minor:
PHYS1610, 1620, 2610, 2620: Introductory Physics
This four-semester calculus-based sequence is designed to provide a broad background in introductory physics for potential physics and other science majors. This sequence is particularly appropriate for students ready to begin the study of physics during their first semester. Calculus (MATH 1310, 1320) is taken concurrently with Physics 1610, 1620. The associated laboratory courses, PHYS 2630, 2640 and MATH 2310, 3255 are normally taken concurrently with PHYS 2610, 2620 during the second year.
PHYS 2310, 2320: Classical and Modern Physics
This is a two-semester, calculus-based introductory sequence for science majors. A year of calculus (usually MATH 1310, 1320) is a prerequisite. These courses taken with the laboratory courses, PHYS 2030, 2040 satisfy the physics requirements of medical and dental schools. They are normally taken in the second year. Students desiring more extensive preparation in basic physics, and particularly those planning to take physics courses numbered 315 and higher should replace PHYS 2030, 2040 with the higher level laboratory sequence PHYS 2630, 2640 to be taken after completing PHYS 2310, 2320.
PHYS 1425, 2415: General Physics
This is a two-semester calculus-based introductory sequence primarily for engineering students. One semester of calculus is prerequisite for PHYS 1425, which is offered in the spring semester; the second semester of calculus is usually taken concurrently with PHYS 1425. These courses include workshops, PHYS 1429 and 2419 respectively, that include experiments and group problem solving. Students completing the PHYS 1425, 2415 sequence who need an introduction to modern physics topics (relativity, quantum physics, atomic structure, nuclear and elementary particle physics, solid state physics and cosmology) should enroll in PHYS 2620.
Students may offer for degree credit only one of PHYS 1425, 1610, and 2310; only one of PHYS 2320, 2415, and 2610.