Undergradute Curriculum

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers two undergraduate majors, in Physics and in Applied Physics. Each of these majors offers a selections of optional tracks, concentrations, and specializations in which elective courses allow students to focus on particular areas of interest including biomedical physics, engineering physics, computational physics, astrophysics, and more. Some students also participate in the Undergraduate Honors Curriculum. In our core courses, lecture demonstrations are used extensively.

The General Catalogue is the official document of approved programs and courses of the University. As a student, you are governed by the requirements in the Catalogue when you matriculated (entered the program). 

For undergraduate majors, relevant sections of the catalogue include:

On the Undergraduate Major portion of the catalogue, you can find the following detailed information:

  • Requirements for admission to the Physics or Applied Physics majors
  • Requirements for the B.S. degree in Physics
  • Requirements for the B.S. degree in Applied Physics
  • Sample academic program by quarter for each year of the Physics and Applied Physics programs
  • Requirements and course listings for the various concentrations and specializations within the major
  • Requirements for the Honors Program in Physics
  • General advice on planning a program of study

All undergraduate Physics and Applied Physics majors should read this section of the catalogue carefully when planning their selection of courses each quarter, and when considering the different track options within the major. The quarterly advising appointments with faculty advisors are the best opportunity to discuss these choices. For more detailed questions about course requirements, double majors, minors, or other special situations, students should consult the academic advisors in the Physics Student Affairs Office and/or the Physical Sciences Student Affairs Office.

As an additional aid in planning a program of study, there are helpful worksheets that list the course requirements for each track and concentration in the major:

First-year students will need to take the Math Assessment for Physics Placement test before the start of fall classes to determine whether they will take Physics 2 or Physics 7C initially. The MAPP web page gives further information and instructions including policies on exemptions from taking the MAPP test.

Many students choose to take courses during the UCI Summer Session. Courses that are often offered in summer session that are relevant for Physics or Applied Physics majors include:

  • Physics 2
  • Physics 7C/7LC/7D/7LD/7E
  • Math 2A/2B/2D/2E
  • Math 3A/3D
  • Math 105A/105LA
  • I&CS 31/32
  • LPS 31
  • Chem 1A/1B/1C/1LC/1LD
  • Chem 51A/51B/51LB/51LC
  • Bio Sci 97/98/99
  • EECS 70A/70LA/70B/70LB
  • EngMAE 120, 130A

The actual selection of summer courses in Physics and in other departments will vary from year to year. When using WebSOC to look for summer course offerings, be sure to check Summer Session 1, Summer Session 2, and 10-Week Summer to find the complete listings.

Mathematica:  Some upper-division physics courses use Mathematica software for homework assigments. For students new to Mathematica, there is a very helpful crash course to get you started. Information about obtaining and installing mathematica will be provided in your courses.