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Physics Major Emphases

The physics major requires four upper-level courses, and gives students the flexibility to choose these courses to prepare themselves for different careers and graduate schools. Below are some suggestions for choosing courses for different emphases.

There are also many other possibilities. You can speak to your adviser about tailoring a program to satisfy your particular interests. For example, previous majors have:
  • Learned Chinese, studied in China for a semester, and pursued a PhD in linguistics.
  • Earned a second major in theater, specializing in lighting and technical theater.
  • Specialized in molecular gastronomy and opened a restaurant after graduation.
Students gather around a classroom PC in Ho Science Center

Biophysics or Biomedical Engineering Emphasis

  • Physics 350: Biophysics
  • Physics 433: Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
  • Physics 304: Physical Optics
  • Physics 410: Advanced Topics and Experiments working with Prof. Metzler on biophysics research
  • Biology 212: Molecules, Cells, and Genes
  • Chemistry 263/264: Organic Chemistry
  • Biology 321: Molecular Biology
  • Biology 334/Math 334: Systems Biology
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Computational Physics Emphasis

  • Physics 451: Computational Physics
  • Physics 458: Real-time Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
  • Physics 410: Advanced Topics and Experiments working with Prof. Crotty on computational neuroscience research
  • Computer Science 101-102: Introduction to Computing
  • Math 308: Differential Equations
  • Math 311: Partial Differential Equations
  • Biology 334 / Math 334: Systems Biology
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Physics With a Minor in Applied Mathematics

  • Math 214: Linear Algebra
  • Math 250: Number theory and mathematical reasoning
  • Math 308: Differential Equations
  • Math 311: Partial Differential Equations
  • Math 313: Functions of a Complex Variable
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Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Emphasis

  • Physics 453: Solid State Physics
  • Physics 433: Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
  • Physics 434: Quantum Mechanics
  • Physics 410: Advanced Topics and Experiments working with Prof. Segall or Prof. Parks on condensed matter physics experiments
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Science Writing Emphasis

In addition to upper-level physics electives, choose:
  • English 365: Science and Nature Writing
  • English 379: Literary Journalism
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Renewable Energy and Sustainability

  • Physics 453: Solid State Physics
  • Physics 433: Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
  • Physics 410: Advanced Topics and Experiments working with Prof. Parks on home insulation experiments
  • Environmental Studies 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues
  • CORE 128: Global Change and You or CORE 101: Energy and Sustainability
  • Economics 328: Natural Resource Economics
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Econophysics

  • Physics 433: Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
  • Physics 451: Computational Physics
  • Physics 458: Real-time Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
  • Economics 375: Applied Econometrics
  • Economics 378: Mathematical Economics
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Preparation for Architecture Graduate Program

In addition to taking a wide variety of physics courses, students should complete Basic Studio, Drawing, Sculpture, and an Architecture Studio course

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Preparation for Law School

There are no specific course requirements for law school admission. You’ll find some very helpful guidance on our pre-professional planning site.

The following list of suggested courses is taken from that page. Obviously, you don’t need to take all of them, but you might use this list as a guide when choosing elective courses.
Philosophy
  • Introduction to Philosophical Problems
  • Ethics
  • International Ethics
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Logic I, II
Psychology
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Social Bonds
  • Human Motivation
  • Cross-Cultural Human Development
International Relations
  • Fundamentals of International Relations
Sociology/Anthropology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Nature, Culture, and Politics
  • Social Justice and Social Change

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Political Science
  • America as a Democracy
  • Political Psychology
  • Political Beliefs and Values
  • Identity Politics
  • Politics of Race and Ethnicity
History
  • American Cultural and Intellectual History
  • American History to 1877
  • American History since 1877
Economics
  • Introduction to Economics
  • Intermediate Microeconomics
  • American Economic History
  • Principles of Accounting