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Undergraduate Program

BS in Physics and Astronomy

The BS degree is an intensive program that helps prepare students for graduate studies in astronomy, physics, or a related field. Students planning to attend graduate school normally elect the BS program.

Four Year Worksheet: Bachelor of Science in Physics & Astronomy

Pre-Concentration Requirements

Before starting with the requirements for the BS degree, each student must also complete the following pre-concentration requirements:

One of the following calculus sequences:

  • MTH 161, 162, 164, and 165
  • MTH 171, 172, 173, and 174

Three introductory physics courses*:

  • PHY 121: Mechanics
  • PHY 122: Electricity and Magnetism
  • PHY 123: Waves and Modern Physics

*PHY 141, 142, and 143 are also acceptable.

We also strongly recommend that all students take AST 111: Elementary Astronomy I freshmen year, and AST 142: Elementary Astrophysics sophomore year.  

Concentration Requirements

Three of the following:

  • AST 231: Gravitation and General Relativity
  • AST 232: The Milkyway Galaxy
  • AST 241: Astrophysics I
  • AST 242: Astrophysics II

Six of the following*:

  • PHY 217: Electricity and Magnetism I
  • PHY 218: Electricity and Magnetism II
  • PHY 227: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 235W: Classical Mechanics
  • PHY 237: Quantum Mechanics of Physical Systems
  • PHY 243W: Advanced Experimental Techniques I
  • PHY 244W: Advanced Experimental Techniques II
  • PHY 245W: The Advanced Nuclear Science Education Laboratory
  • PHY 246: Quantum Theory
  • AST 393W: Senior Thesis

*PHY 218 or 243W are recommended.

Two courses in advanced mathematics:

  • MTH 281: Applied Boundary Value Problems is required
  • MTH 282: Introduction to Complex Variables with Applications or OPT 287: Mathematical Methods for Optics and Physics is recommended

Computer literacy can be satisfied by:

  • Taking PHY 256: Computational Physics during sophomore year
  • Taking CSC 171: The Science of Programming, CSC 161: The Art of Programming or CSC 160: Engineering Computing during freshman year
  • Completing a computing-based problem approved by the department's undergraduate physics advisor
  • Having a faculty member certify computer literacy

At least a 2.0 (C) average in astronomy, physics and mathematics courses must be maintained. The undergraduate astronomy advisor must approve all course choices.

Note: Equivalent graduate-level courses may be substituted when appropriate. Well-prepared students might consider taking the graduate quantum mechanics sequence (PHY 407/408) in their senior year in place of PHY 246.