Requirements for a Major in Biological Physics

The Physics Department offers programs leading to a B.S. in Biological Physics or an A.B. in Biological Physics. We also offer majors and a minor in Physics. Students planning to attend graduate school in physics, biological physics, biophysics, or engineering or intending to work as a physicist usually pursue a B.S. degree. Students interested in careers in medicine, law, finance, or other areas will benefit from either of the programs, but they may find that the A.B. allows more time to pursue other degrees or interests. The first 5 courses taken for the B.S. and the A.B. are the same, so it is not necessary to decide between the two degrees until at least the end of the 2nd year.

Any student contemplating becoming a Biological Physics major is strongly encouraged to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics as early as possible.

Requirements for a B.S. in Biological Physics

  • 151 (Mechanics) or 101
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 035 (Calculus I)
  • 152 (Electromagnetic Phenomena) or 102
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 036 (Calculus II)
  • 153 (Relativity and Quantum Physics)
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 137 (Multivariable Calculus)
  • 154 (Modern Experimental Physics)
  • 155 (Mathematical and Computational Methods)
  • 235 (Biological Physics I)
  • 251 or 252 or 253 (Intermediate Mech, QM, or E&M)
  • 254 (Statistical Physics)
  • 436 (Biological Physics II)
  • 311-314 (Independent Research in Biological Physics)
  • BIOL >= 103 (Major-level Biology, typically BIOL-103)
  • BIOL >= 104 (Major-level Biology, typically BIOL-104)
  • CHEM-001 or >= 055 (Major-level Chemistry, typically CHEM-001)
  • CHEM-002 or >= 055 (Major-level Chemistry, typically CHEM-002)

These requirements are summarized in this printable checklist.

Note: Students earning the B.S. in Biological Physics are exempt from the College Social Science General Education Requirement.

Students considering the B.S. major are strongly encouraged to begin the major during their freshman year; however, with careful planning, it is possible to complete the B.S. starting in the first semester of sophomore year. Typical schedules for various situations can be found on the Planning Your Physics or Biological Physics Major page.

Requirements for an A.B. in Biological Physics

  • 151 (Mechanics) or 101
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 035 (Calculus I)
  • 152 (Electromagnetic Phenomena) or 102
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 036 (Calculus II)
  • 153 (Relativity and Quantum Physics)
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 137 (Multivariable Calculus)
  • 154 (Modern Experimental Physics)
  • 155 (Mathematical and Computational Methods)
  • 235 (Biological Physics I)
  • 254 (Statistical Physics)
  • 436 (Biological Physics II)
  • BIOL >= 103 (Major-level Biology, typically BIOL-103)
  • BIOL >= 104 (Major-level Biology, typically BIOL-104)
  • CHEM-001 or >= 055 (Major-level Chemistry, typically CHEM-001)
  • CHEM-002 or >= 055 (Major-level Chemistry, typically CHEM-002)

These requirements are summarized in this printable checklist.

Students considering the A.B. major are encouraged to begin the major during their freshman year to allow the greatest flexibility; however, it is straightforward to complete an A.B. starting in the first semester of sophomore year. Typical schedules for various situations can be found on the Planning Your Physics or Biological Physics Major page.

Departmental Honors

The faculty may award Honors in Physics to Physics or Biological Physics majors who have performed exceptionally well both in coursework and in independent research. Students who are awarded Honors in Physics typically have a GPA in physics lecture courses of 3.7 or better. Students must also have exhibited excellence in independent research (including at least six credits of research coursework) and must have presented their work in written and oral forms to the faculty. To be eligible for consideration, a physics or biological physics major must have completed at least 4 upper-level physics lecture courses (PHYS 220-299 or >= 400), including at least two courses from PHYS 251, 252, 253, and 254.