Requirements for a Major or Minor in Physics

The Physics Department offers programs leading to a B.S. in Physics, an A.B. in Physics, or a minor in Physics. We also offer degrees in Biological Physics. Students planning to attend graduate school in physics 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 any of the programs, but they may find that the A.B. (or the minor) 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 physics major or minor is strongly encouraged to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics as early as possible.

Requirements for a B.S. in Physics

  • 151 (Mechanics) or 101 or 105 or 041
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 035 (Calculus I)
  • 152 (Electromagnetic Phenomena) or 102 or 106 or 042
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 036 (Calculus II)
  • 153 (Relativity and Quantum Physics) or 211
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 137 (Multivariable Calculus)
  • 154 (Modern Experimental Physics)
  • 155 (Mathematical and Computational Methods) or 150
  • 251 (Intermediate Mechanics)
  • 252 (Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism)
  • 253 (Quantum Mechanics)
  • 254 (Statistical Physics)
  • 300-339 (Independent Research)
  • Physics elective: 220-299 or >= 400
  • Any approved physics or math/science course

These requirements are summarized in this printable checklist.

Note: Students earning the B.S. in 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.

Note: Students who entered Georgetown in Fall 2008 or earlier are subject to a different set of requirements summarized in this printable checklist.

Requirements for an A.B. in Physics

  • 151 (Mechanics) or 101 or 105 or 041
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 035 (Calculus I)
  • 152 (Electromagnetic Phenomena) or 102 or 106 or 042
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 036 (Calculus II)
  • 153 (Relativity and Quantum Physics) or 211
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 137 (Multivariable Calculus)
  • 154 (Modern Experimental Physics)
  • 155 (Mathematical and Computational Methods) or 150
  • 251 or 252 or 253 or 254
  • Physics elective: 220-299 or >= 400
  • Physics elective: >= 220
  • Any approved physics or math/science course
  • Any approved physics or math/science course

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.

Note: Students who entered Georgetown in Fall 2008 or earlier are subject to a different set of requirements summarized in this printable checklist.

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.

Requirements for a Minor in Physics

A minor in physics consists of the first four courses of the core sequence plus one additional physics course, as follows:

  • 151 (Mechanics)
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 035 (Calculus I)
  • 152 (Electromagnetic Phenomena)
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 036 (Calculus II)
  • 153 (Relativity and Quantum Physics)
    • Co- or Pre-requisite: MATH 137 (Multivariable Calculus)
  • 154 (Modern Physics and its Experimental Methods)
  • One additional physics course (preapproved PHYS-155 or higher)

Alternates for these courses may be approved on a case by case basis.

These requirements are summarized in this printable checklist.