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Physics Major

Effective Winter 2017

Advising

Students with any questions about courses or majors in Physics should speak with Physics department advisors.

Students wishing to pursue a minor in Physics must develop a specific plan for its completion in consultation with the department's designated advisor.

Advising appointments can be scheduled in the Physics Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab [(734) 764-5539] or via the online advising calendar http://lsa.umich.edu/physics/undergraduate-students/major---minor-programs.html

Grade Policies

Students must earn at least a C-in all courses they plan to include in the major, including the prerequisites.

Prerequisites

Students prepare for the study of physics by completing the following introductory sequences (four courses total).

One of the following 100 level lectures:

  • PHYSICS 135: Physics for the Life Sciences I (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 136)
  • PHYSICS 140: General Physics I (should be taken concurrently with PHYSICS 141)
  • PHYSICS 160: Honors Physics I (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 141 or 161)

One of the following 100 level labs:

  • PHYSICS 136 Physics for the Life Sciences Laboratory I (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 135)
  • PHYSICS 141: Elementary Laboratory I (should be taken concurrently with PHYSICS 140)
  • PHYSICS 161: Honors Introductory Mechanics Lab (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 160) 

One of the following 200 level lectures: 

  • PHYSICS 235: Physics for the Life Sciences II (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 236)
  • PHYSICS 240: General Physics II (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 241)
  • PHYSICS 260: Honors Physics II (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 241 or 261) 

One of the following 200 level labs:

  • PHYSICS 236: Physics for the Life Sciences Laboratory II (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 235)
  • PHYSICS 241: Elementary Laboratory I (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 240)
  • PHYSICS 261: Honors Electricity and Magnetism Lab (should be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 260) 

Students who begin the introductory sequence should have completed at least one semester of calculus (MATH 115 or equivalent). Students who have not already done so should continue their study of mathematics concurrently with their PHYSICS coursework, progressing through differential equations (typically the fourth semester of calculus).

Students who passed one or more AP Physics exams with a score of 5 or higher or who passed the IB HL exam with a 4 or higher are strongly encouraged to elect the honors introductory sequence (PHYSICS 160, 161, 260, and 261).

It is not necessary to complete all courses in the prerequisite sequences in order to declare the physics major. Students are encouraged to officially declare as soon as they make the decision.

Requirements

Minimum Credits: 29

Once a student has mastered introductory content and declared the major, they prepare for advanced study of the discipline by fulfilling the Intermediate Courses Requirement (four courses), then move on to master advanced concepts, skills, problems, and topics of the discipline by completing the Advanced Courses Requirement (four courses), Advanced Laboratory Requirement (two courses), and an Advanced Elective Requirement (two courses).

Intermediate Courses Requirement
Students must complete all of the following:

  • PHYSICS 340: Waves, Heat, and Light –OR– PHYSICS 360: Honors Physics III
  • PHYSICS 351: Methods of Theoretical Physics I
  • PHYSICS 390: Introduction to Modern Physics (must be taken concurrently with PHYSICS 391)
  • PHYSICS 391: Introduction to Modern Physics Lab (must be taken concurrently with PHYSICS 390)

Ideally, PHYSICS 351 is elected no later than the second semester of the sophomore year. It is an enforced prerequisite for PHYSICS 390 and the Advanced Courses Requirement. PHYSICS 390 and 391 can be elected concurrently with PHYSICS 401 or 405 (part of the Advanced Courses Requirement).

Advanced Courses Requirement
Students must complete all of the following:

  • PHYSICS 401: Intermediate Mechanics
  • PHYSICS 405: Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism
  • PHYSICS 406: Statistical and Thermal Physics
  • PHYSICS 453: Quantum Mechanics

Students are encouraged to complete both PHYSICS 401 and 405 before electing PHYSICS 453.

Advanced Laboratory Requirement
Students must complete the following two courses:

  • PHYSICS 441: Advanced Laboratory I
  • PHYSICS 442: Advanced Laboratory II

Elective Requirement
Students round out their study of physics by taking two of the following elective courses:

  • PHYSICS 402: Optics
  • PHYSICS 411: Introduction to Computational Physics
  • PHYSICS 413 / CMPLXSYS 541: Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics and the Physics of Complexity
  • PHYSICS / BIOPHYS / CHEM 417: Dynamical Processes in Biophysics
  • PHYSICS / BIOPHYS 433: Biocomplexity
  • PHYSICS 435: Gravitational Physics
  • PHYSICS 438: Electromagnetic Radiation
  • PHYSICS / BIOPHYS 450: Laboratory Techniques in Biophysics
  • PHYSICS 452: Methods of Theoretical Physics II
  • PHYSICS 460: Quantum Mechanics II (requires previous completion of PHYSICS 453)
  • PHYSICS 463: Introduction to Solid State Physics (requires previous completion of PHYSICS 453)
  • PHYSICS / CMPLXSYS 470: Experiments in Nonlinear Dynamics

Constraints

Courses elected as pass/fail may not be included in the major.

Residency

A minimum of 15 credits at the 300 level or above must be completed in residence.

Distribution Policy

No course used to fulfill a major requirement may be used toward the LSA Distribution Requirement. In addition, courses in the PHYSICS subject area may not be used toward the Distribution Requirement.

Honors

Talented and highly motivated students who have an interest in conducting independent research are encouraged to complete an honors major. In addition to the requirements for major, honors majors must complete an additional six PHYSICS credits numbered at the 400 level or above and produce a senior thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. (Note: PHYSICS 415 will not count toward a Physics Honors major).

Physics Major (Fall 2015-Fall 2016)

Effective Date: Fall 2015

The undergraduate curriculum in Physics is designed to provide a thorough introduction to our current understanding of the physical world. It prepares students for quantitative analysis of the world. The Physics BS degree provides strong preparation for graduate study in Physics and related fields. It also prepares students for direct entry into the job market in a wide variety of technical, analytic, and education settings.

Prerequisites to the Major

  • PHYSICS 135/136 and 235/236 or PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261)
  • PHYSICS 340 and PHYSICS 351.

Student interested in concentrating in physics should have an understanding of mathematics through differential equations.

Requirements for the Major

At least 29 credits in PHYSICS numbered 390/391 and above. The Physics Department requires no less than 15 credits toward the major program be completed in residence.

The major must include:

  1. Core. PHYSICS 390/391, 401, 405, 406, and 453.
    PHYSICS 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453 must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
    PHYSICS 390/391 can be elected concurrently with PHYICS 401 or 405; PHYSICS 401 and 405 should precede PHYSICS 453; PHYSICS 453 is a prerequisite to most courses numbered above.
  2. Advanced Laboratory. Any two of PHYSICS 441, 442 or 450.
  3. Electives. Two courses from among PHYSICS 402, 411, 413, 417, 430, 433, 435,  438, 452, 457, 460,  463, and 470.

PHYSICS 419, 420, 481, and 489 may not be used to satisfy the B.S. degree requirements.

Honors Plan

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors major in Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for major, candidates for an Honors major must elect six credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member.

Physics Major (Fall 2012-Summer 2015)

Effective Date: Fall 2012-Summer 2015

May be elected as a departmental major.

The undergraduate curriculum in Physics is designed to provide a thorough introduction to our current understanding of the physical world. It prepares students for quantitative analysis of the world. The Physics BS degree provides strong preparation for graduate study in Physics and related fields. It also prepares students for direct entry into the job market in a wide variety of technical, analytic, and education settings.

Prerequisites to the Major

  • PHYSICS 135/136 and 235/236 or PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261)
  • PHYSICS 340/341 and PHYSICS 351.

Student interested in concentrating in physics should have an understanding of mathematics through differential equations.

Requirements for the Major

At least 27 credits in PHYSICS numbered 390 and above. The Physics Department requires no less than 15 credits toward the major program be completed in residence.

A plan for the major must include:

  1. Core. PHYSICS 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453.
    PHYSICS 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453 must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
    PHYSICS 401 and 405 should precede PHYSICS 453; PHYSICS 453 is a prerequisite to most courses numbered above.
  2. Advanced Laboratory. Any two of PHYSICS 441, 442 or 450.
  3. Electives. Two courses from among PHYSICS 402, 411, 413, 417, 430, 433, 435,  438, 452, 457, 460,  463, and 470.

PHYSICS 419, 420, 481, and 489 may not be used to satisfy the B.S. degree requirements.

Honors Plan

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors major in Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for major, candidates for an Honors major must elect six credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member.