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Introductory Physics Courses

The Physics Department offers three introductory course sequences: PHYSICS 140 and 240, BIOPHYS/PHYSICS 150 and 250, and PHYSICS 160 and 260. While these sequences can be mixed (e.g., 140+250), the Department generally encourages students to pursue both terms of a single sequence.

Students with strong high school physics backgrounds are encouraged to take the Honors physics sequence, which begins with PHYSICS 160. This sequence takes a thoroughly modern approach to both mechanics and electricity & magnetism. The Honors classes are the preferred sequence for students interested in any science concentration, especially physics. Students do not need to be LSA Honors Program members to enroll in PHYSICS 160 and 260.

Prospective physical science and engineering students should elect PHYSICS 140 and 240 because the content is aligned with the requirements of concentration programs in these areas. Prospective life science students and those interested in the health professions should elect BIOPHYS/PHYSICS 150 and 250.

Students who feel their mathematics preparation is weak, especially those who have not taken calculus, should consider enrolling in PHYSICS 115, which is designed to help students build a foundation to be successful in the introductory courses. Any student unsure about these options is encouraged to make an appointment to speak with a physics advisor.


Beginning in Fall 2021 the Physics Department will no longer be offering PHYSICS 135/136 or PHYSICS 235/236. The courses will be replaced with a new Physics for the Life Sciences sequence, BIOPHYS/PHYSICS 150/151 and BIOPHYS/PHYSICS 250/251. 

Students currently enrolled in, or who have completed PHYSICS 135/136, and need to complete the sequence should enroll in PHYSICS 250/251 in the Fall 2021 term. 

Information regarding PHYSICS 150 can be found here. Information about PHYSICS 250 can be found here. These new courses can be used to complete the physics and interdisciplinary physics major.

If you have further questions, please contact