Physics majors typically take the following courses in the fall semester of their first year:

First-Year Experience Learning Community Courses

We will register you in these courses.

  1. Philosophy (PHIL 201)
  2. English Composition (ENG 101) OR Theology (TRS 201)

Why am I taking these classes?   Honors students take equivalent honors courses.

Major and Elective Courses

You will need to choose and register for these courses.

  1. Introductory Mechanics Lab (PHYS 225)
  2. Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Math 121) or other calculus-sequence course, depending on placement
  3. Introduction to Computer Programming with MATLAB (CSC 113)
  4. A foreign language

The laws of physics are universal and form the basis of all natural phenomena. From the workings of a cell in your body to the properties of the most distant and largest black holes – all these systems obey precisely the same laws. As a physics major, you will learn what these laws are, how they are stated using the language of mathematics, what experiments led to their discovery, and how to apply them to explain and predict the behavior of systems ranging from the smallest – a quark in a nucleus of an atom, to the intermediate – a bacteria, and on to the largest – the entire Universe. In the process, you will become an expert problem-solver, adept at framing scientific questions in mathematical terms, and designing new experiments and instruments to answer questions of interest to the scientific community and society at large.

1 st Semester Courses

In the Fall semester of your freshman year, please enroll in PHYS 225 (1 credit), a laboratory course that will prepare you for an introductory, two-semester calculus-based course sequence that you'll take this spring and next fall (consisting of PHYS 215-H and PHYS 216-H and 226 [lab]). These courses will undergird everything else you’ll study as a physics major. They’ll be your first introduction to the major ideas of physics and your first exposure to physics problem solving.

Besides your First-Year Experience courses and the physics lab, we suggest that you begin or continue study of a foreign language as soon as possible. If you’ve taken a foreign language in high school, you may want to consider testing out of the requirement.

Please make sure that you enroll in Calculus 1 (MATH 121) since knowledge of calculus at this level will be assumed in PHYS 215-02. Before you can register for calculus, you will need to submit AP scores or take the calculus placement exam. If you are not ready for Calculus, you may be placed in Math 108 first.

Lastly, we strongly recommend that throughout your undergraduate career, you take as many computer programming courses as possible, starting with your first semester here. A good course for the Fall is CSC 113. The first semester is also a good time to explore your interests in our program's humanities and social science requirements. Browse this abbreviated list of first-year course options and talk to your advisors for suggestions.

Know which courses you want? Get registered.