UCR

Department of Physics & Astronomy



Degree Requirements


Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree in Physics & Astronomy

All candidates for the B.S. and B.A. degrees must satisfy the course breadth requirements for the Undergraduate Studies Section of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. In addition, a candidate must complete 70 quarter units of approved lower and a minimum of 57 units of upper division letter grade physics courses for the standard track, totaling a minimum of 127 quarter units of physics core requirements. Of these, 12 units are upper division elective classes, which focus on specific disciplines. Students are encouraged to become involved in research with a faculty mentor and write a Senior Thesis (Phys 195), which satisfies half of the senior advanced lab requirement (Phys 142). To graduate, a minimum grade point average of 2.0 (C) is necessary overall and in the upper-division classes taken for the major.  A minimum of 180 units of academic work with a grade point average of 2.00 is required for graduation.  Students who wish to take more than 216 units must receive permission from the associate dean.

The requirements below are from the 2016-17 academic year UCR Catalog.  Students nearing completion apply to graduate based on the requirements in a specific version of the UCR Catalog.  Students may select any catalog version that was in effect during their time at UCR.  Students may not mix requirements from multiple catalog versions.

Core Requirements for all Physics B.A. and B.S. degree tracks:

Lower Division Required Courses (70 units)
  • Physics 41ABC (24 units).  The physics 41ABC series is strongly recommended.  For alternatives, see below.

  • Physics 39 (3 units)
  • Mathematics 9ABC, 10AB, 46 (24 units)
  • Chemistry 1A/1AL,1B/1BL, 1C/1CL (15 units)
  • Computer Science 10 (4 units)
Upper Division Required Courses (38 to 39 units)  
  • Physics 130A-130B Classical Mechanics (with special relativity) (8 units)
  • Physics 132 Thermal Physics (5 units)
  • Physics 135A-135B Electricity and Magnetism (8 units)
  • Physics 156A-156B Quantum Mechanics (8 units)
  • Physics 139L Electronics Laboratory (5 units)
  • Physics 142W (5 units) or 142L (4 units) Advanced Physics Laboratory.  Physics 142W includes writing instruction with an emphasis on technical communication and satisfies the English 1C (4 units) CNAS breadth requirement.  Physics 142W is currently offered in the Winter quarter only.
Upper Division Elective Courses (4 units)
  • 4 units of upper division Physics electives:
    Upper division Math, Science or Engineering may be substituted with approval.  The electives may be selected on an individual basis to stress one or more concentration.

Total CORE requirements are 70 + 38 to 39 + 4 = 112 to 113 units

Additional Requirements for Degrees and Tracks:

BA Physics:
  • Minimum writing (12 units), CNAS breadth (40 units), and foreign language (16 units), totaling 68 units.  Note that Physics 142W will satisfy the English 1C requirement (4 of the 12 writing units).

Program total minimum 177 units (with Physics 142W) to 180 units (without Physics 142W)

BS Physics—Standard Track:
  • 4 units: Phys 136 (EM Waves)
  • 4 additional units of 142L (1 quarter) or 5 additional units of 142W (1 quarter).  This may also be satisfied by 4 units of Senior Thesis (Physics 195) or and internship (Physics 198-I).
  • 8 units of upper division physics electives: Phys 156C highly recommended for students going to grad school.
  • Minimum writing (12 units) and CNAS breadth requirements (28 units), totaling 40 units.  Note that Physics 142W will satisfy the English 1C requirement (4 of the 12 writing units).

Program total minimum 165 units (with Physics 142W) to 168 units (without Physics 142W).

BS Physics—Biophysics Track:
  • 25 additional lower division units: Biol 5ABC (13 units, satisfies CNAS Biology breadth requirement) and Chem 12ABC (12 units).
  • 8 additional upper division units:  Biochem 110ABC or Biol 107A (or other upper division Chemistry/Biology/Biochem upon approval)
  • Minimum writing (12 units) and CNAS breadth requirements (24 units) totaling 36 units.  Note that Physics 142W will satisfy the English 1C requirement (4 of the 12 writing units).

Program total minimum 177 units (with Physics 142W) to 180 units (without Physics 142W).

BS Physics—Applied Physics and Engineering Track:
  • 4 additional units of 142L (1 quarter) or 5 additional units of 142W (1 quarter).  This may also be satisfied by 4 units of Senior Thesis (Physics 195) or and internship (Physics 198-I).
  • 8 units of upper division Engineering
  • 4 units of upper division Physics
  • Minimum writing (12 units) and CNAS breadth requirements (28 units) totaling 40 units.  Note that Physics 142W will satisfy the English 1C requirement (4 of the 12 writing units).

Program total minimum 165 units (with Physics 142W) to 168 units (without Physics 142W).

BS Physics—Physics Education Track:
  • 18 units of Education courses: Educ 3 (3 units), 4 (3 units), 110 or 110S (4 units), 174 or 174S (4 units).
  • 4 units of Linguistics: Ling 20 or 21 (4) (satisfies 4 units of Humanities breadth)
  • Minimum writing (12 units) and CNAS breadth requirements (24 units) totaling 36 units.  Note that Physics 142W will satisfy the English 1C requirement (4 of the 12 writing units).

Program total minimum 167 units (with Physics 142W) to 170 units (without Physics 142W).

Alternative introductory physics paths:

Physics majors are strongly encouraged to take the physics 41ABC series.  The advantages of the physics 41ABC series are:

  1. Small class size.  The 41ABC classes typically have 20 to 40 enrolled students, most of which are physics majors.  This means you will get to know well the other physics majors as you go through the physics 41ABC series.  You will also have much more interaction with the instructor.  The enrollment in a Phys 40ABC or 2ABC class is typically 200 to 280 students.
  2. Flexible modern instructional format.  Physics 41ABC has its own dedicated lab room.  This allows the instructor to freely mix classroom and lab activities in an optimal way.
  3. Introductory physics is completed in the first year.  The physics 41ABC series is the only path that will allow you to complete introductory physics in the first year.  This has several advantages.  One significant advantage is that allows you to begin upper-division physics courses in your second year.  This is particularly important for students who are considering graduate school.  By completing the 41ABC series in your first year, you will be able to complete all of the core physics lecture courses by the end of your third year, which will give you a very good preparation for the Physics GRE exam.  You will also be well prepared to engage in research starting in your first summer.  For all other paths (see below), you must take phys 41C in the spring quarter of your second year.

However, the following alternative paths will satisfy the introductory physics requirement for the major.  Please consult your physics faculty academic advisor before committing to an alternative path.  Students who wish to change their major to physics may follow any of the paths below.  If you have already started taking introductory physics, you do not need to start over with physics 41ABC.

  • 24 units of lower division Physics 41ABC can be substituted with:
  • 40A, 40B, 40C and 41C (23 units)
  • 40A, 40B, 41B, and 41C (26 units)
  • 40A with C- or better, 41B, and 41C (21 units) plus 4 additional units of upper division Physics elective
  • 2A with B- or better, 41B, and 41C (21 units) plus 4 additional units of upper division Physics elective
  • 2A, 2B with B- or better, 41C (18 units) plus 8 additional units of upper division elective, 4 in Physics and 4 in any Science/Math/Engineering
  • 2A, 2B, 2C with B- or better (15 units) plus 12 additional units of upper division elective, 8 in Physics and 4 in any Science/Math/Engineering

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Physics & Astronomy
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Main Office Tel: (951) 827-5331
Main Office Fax: (951) 827-4529
Maynard, Bonnie; Chair's Assistant, Academic Personnel
E-mail: bonnie.maynard@ucr.edu

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