Bachelor of Science

The laws of physics are the starting point for most scientific research and engineering applications. Students majoring in physics obtain broad-based knowledge and expertise applying these laws, as well as hands-on experience building electronic equipment and performing experiments, allowing them to pursue a wide range of educational and employment opportunities after graduation.

About this Program

To graduate with this major, students must complete all university, college, and major requirements.

Department Information

The Department of Physics is making strides toward becoming one of the premier physics departments in the United States. With active groups in astrophysics, biological physics, condensed matter/materials physics, and elementary particle physics, undergraduate and graduate students participate in cutting-edge research that prepares them for successful careers in a wide variety of fields.
Website

CONTACT

Email 352.392.0521 (tel) | 352.392.0524 (fax)


P.O. Box 118440
2001 Museum Road
Gainesville FL 32611-8545

 Curriculum

A physics major provides a wide range of career options. Many students pursue further studies in physics, other scientific disciplines, and various branches of engineering and medicine. Professional physicists work in universities and government laboratories seeking answers to fundamental questions about nature, in industry leading the development of new technologies, and in the medical sector performing clinical service and research. The analytical, problem-solving, and communications skills acquired by physics majors also lead to career opportunities in business and finance.

The Department of Physics offers two undergraduate degree programs: The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) is intended for students who wish to pursue graduate study in physics as well as for other students with a deep interest in the subject. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) is intended for students who seek the benefits of a physics degree but desire greater flexibility to follow interests in other fields.

Bachelor of Arts

The B.A. degree program is for students who want to major in physics but are not presently contemplating graduate studies in physics. It provides a good foundation in the fundamentals while offering increased flexibility in the major, through fewer required courses and more electives, and opportunity for parallel studies in another discipline and/or preprofessional studies.

Bachelor of Science

The B.S. degree program is intended for students planning to do graduate work in physics or related science and engineering disciplines. The B.S. requires a minimum of 41 credits in Physics plus 28 credits of related coursework. Minimum grades of C are required for coursework counted toward the major.

In addition to the Physics BA and BS degrees, there are three optional specializations for the Physics BS degree. Each specialization consists of a specific choice of the 4000 level Physics elective plus three courses in other departments.

Medical Physics

Medical physics applies the principles and experimental techniques of physics to medical problems. A common example is the use of different forms of radiation in medical diagnosis and treatment. This specialization will help prepare students for a graduate program in medical physics.

Nanoscience

Nanoscience is the study of extremely small things – only 10 to 100 atoms wide. It is an interdisciplinary field involving physics, chemistry, and many engineering disciplines. This specialization helps prepare students for careers in industry and graduate school in engineering as well as physics.

Optics

There are applications of optics and photonics in consumer equipment, telecommunications, medicine, construction, aviation, and many more fields. This broad field involves both physics and engineering. The optics specialization will prepare students for graduate programs in optics as well as employment in industry.

Coursework for the Major

Coursework for the major will depend upon the degree program chosen.

Courses for the B.S. or B.A. degree include four pairs of alternative courses:

PHY 2048Physics with Calculus 13
or PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1
PHY 2049Physics with Calculus 23
or PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2
PHY 3101Introduction to Modern Physics3
or PHY 3063 Enriched Modern Physics
PHY 3221Mechanics 13
or PHZ 3113 Introduction to Theoretical Physics

In each case, the second course includes selected advanced topics not covered in the first. While both courses prepare students for upper-level physics classes, students should see a department advisor to determine which course meets their needs.

Required coursework for each degree can be found below in the Critical Tracking section. Transfer students must take a minimum of 15 credits of required physics courses at UF.

Course Details

Several courses meet the criteria for the general education physical sciences (P) requirement. Some mathematical training (indicated in parentheses) is desirable or required for many of these courses. Of the courses below, only PHY 2048/PHY 2049 count toward the major.

MET 1010Introduction to Weather and Climate3
PHY 1033CDiscovering Physics3
PHY 2020Introduction to Principles of Physics 13
Select one general physics sequence: 26-8
Applied Physics 1
and Applied Physics 2
Physics with Calculus 1
and Physics with Calculus 2
Physics 1
and Physics 2

Placement

Students with Advanced Placement credit should consult the catalog's Academic Advising section for course equivalencies. Sequences for advanced students are available from any physics advisor or the department website.

Research

All undergraduate majors are encouraged to participate in research activities. Many physics majors participate in research during the academic year and/or through summer research programs. Advanced students may also be eligible to enroll in certain graduate courses, thereby accelerating their education. Physics majors are urged to confer with a department advisor as early as possible and especially as their educational goals evolve.

Bachelor of Science

The B.S. degree program is intended for students planning to do graduate work in physics or related science and engineering disciplines. The B.S. requires a minimum of 41 credits in Physics plus 28 credits of related coursework. Minimum grades of C are required for coursework counted toward the major.

Required Coursework

PHY 2048Physics with Calculus 13
or PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1
PHY 2048LLaboratory for Physics with Calculus 11
PHY 2049Physics with Calculus 23
or PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2
PHY 2049LLaboratory for Physics with Calculus 21
PHY 3101Introduction to Modern Physics3
or PHY 3063 Enriched Modern Physics
PHY 3221Mechanics 13
or PHZ 3113 Introduction to Theoretical Physics
PHY 3323Electromagnetism 13
PHY 3513Thermal Physics 13
PHY 4222Mechanics 23
PHY 4324Electromagnetism 23
PHY 4523Statistical Physics3
PHY 4604Introductory Quantum Mechanics 13
PHY 4802LLaboratory Physics 13
PHY 4803LLaboratory Physics 23
Select one 4000-level or higher physics course that is included in the physics major curriculum 16
Total Credits44

Related Coursework

MAC 2311Analytic Geometry and Calculus 14
MAC 2312Analytic Geometry and Calculus 24
MAC 2313Analytic Geometry and Calculus 34
CHM 2045General Chemistry 13
CHM 2046General Chemistry 23
CHM 2045LGeneral Chemistry 1 Laboratory1
MAP 2302Elementary Differential Equations3
Approved math courses (minimum) 16
Total Credits28
  • Minimum grades of C for coursework counted toward the major

Critical Tracking records each student’s progress in courses that are required for progress toward each major. Please note the critical-tracking requirements below on a per-semester basis.

For degree requirements outside of the major, refer to CLAS Degree Requirements: Structure of a CLAS Degree.

Equivalent critical-tracking courses as determined by the State of Florida Common Course Prerequisites may be used for transfer students.

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

Semester 5

  • Complete MAP 2302 with a with a minimum grade of C
  • Complete 2 required 3000-level physics courses with minimum grades of C
  • 2.5 critical-tracking GPA required
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 6

  • Complete the remaining required 3000-level physics courses with minimum grades of C
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 7

  • Complete PHY 4802L or PHY 4803L
  • Complete 2 required 4000-level physics courses in addition to PHY 4802L with minimum grade of C
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 8

  • Complete the remaining 4000-level physics courses required for Physics Majors with minimum grades of C
  • Complete one 4000-level or higher Physics Elective with a minimum grade of C
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

This plan is structured for students taking Calculus 1 the first semester. Students can have different schedules when they enter UF because of their backgrounds. In particular, students are encouraged to take Physics with Calculus 1 (PHY 2048 or PHY 2060) as soon as they have completed Calculus 1, even if this means delaying chemistry. For all physics courses, adequate mathematical preparation is essential and is built into the suggested plans. Physics majors should meet with a department advisor before planning their schedules.

Additional sample schedules are available from the department.
More Info

Students are expected to complete the writing requirement while in the process of taking the courses below. Students are also expected to complete the general education international (GE-N) and diversity (GE-D) requirements concurrently with another general education requirement (typically, GE-C, H, or S). MAC 2312, MAC 2313, MAP 2302, and upper-division math electives count towards 3000 level or above electives outside of the major.

To remain on track, students must complete the appropriate critical-tracking courses, which appear in bold. These courses must be completed by the terms as listed above in the Critical Tracking criteria.

This semester plan represents an example progression through the major. Actual courses and course order may be different depending on the student's academic record and scheduling availability of courses. Prerequisites still apply.

Plan of Study Grid
Semester OneCredits
CHM 2045
2045L
General Chemistry 1
and General Chemistry 1 Laboratory (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1
4
MAC 2311 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1 (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Mathematics) 1 4
State Core Gen Ed Composition; Writing Requirement 3
State Core Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
 Credits14
Semester Two
Quest 1 (Gen Ed Humanities) 3
CHM 2046 General Chemistry 2 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
MAC 2312 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 2 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Mathematics) 1 4
Select one: 4
Physics with Calculus 1
and Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 1 (Critical Tracking) 1
 
Enriched Physics with Calculus 1
and Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1
 
Elective 1
 Credits15
Semester Three
Quest 2 (Gen Ed Biological Sciences OR Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences) 3
MAC 2313 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 3 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Mathematics) 1 4
Select one: 4
Physics with Calculus 2
and Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 (Critical Tracking) 1
 
Enriched Physics with Calculus 2
and Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1
 
Foreign language course 4-5
 Credits15-16
Semester Four
MAP 2302 Elementary Differential Equations (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Mathematics) 1 3
PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics (Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
State Core Gen Ed Humanities 3
Gen Ed Biological Sciences 3
Foreign language course 3-5
 Credits15-17
Semester Five
PHY 3221 Mechanics 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
PHY 3513 Thermal Physics 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
Gen Ed Biological Sciences OR Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences (area NOT taken in semester 3) 3
Mathematics elective 3
Elective, or foreign language if 4-3-3 option 3
 Credits15
Semester Six
PHY 3323 Electromagnetism 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
PHY 4222 Mechanics 2 3
ENC 3254 Professional Writing in the Discipline ((Recommended; Gen Ed Composition; Writing Requirement)) 3
Gen Ed Humanities 3
Mathematics elective 3
 Credits15
Semester Seven
PHY 4324 Electromagnetism 2 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 1 3
PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1 (Critical Tracking) 3
Elective (3000 level or higher, outside major) 4
Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
 Credits16
Semester Eight
PHY 4523 Statistical Physics (Critical Tracking) 1 3
PHY 4803L Laboratory Physics 2 (Critical Tracking) 1 3
Electives 6
Physics elective (Critical Tracking; 4000 level) 3
 Credits15
 Total Credits120

The laws of physics are the starting point for most scientific research and engineering applications. Students majoring in physics obtain broad-based knowledge and experience applying these laws as well as hands-on experience building electronic equipment and performing experiments. Many students go on to graduate study in physics, and a considerable number pursue advanced degrees in other science disciplines, all branches of engineering and medical school. Physics majors are employed in industry doing applied work and in academia seeking the answers to fundamental questions.

Before Graduating Students Must

  • Pass the UF physics field test, which consists of five parts. One part is given in each of these required courses:
    PHY 2060Enriched Physics with Calculus 13
    or PHY 3221 Mechanics 1
    PHY 3323Electromagnetism 13
    PHY 3513Thermal Physics 13
    PHY 4604Introductory Quantum Mechanics 13
    PHY 4802LLaboratory Physics 13
  • Complete requirements for the baccalaureate degree, as determined by faculty.

Students in the Major Will Learn to

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Content

  1. Identify, define and describe the core fields of physics: classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal physics and quantum mechanics.
  2. Identify, define and explain experimental physics and data analysis.

Critical Thinking

  1. Formulate, solve problems and draw conclusions from data.

Communication

  1. Effectively and clearly communicate ideas in speech and in writing in an accepted style.

Curriculum Map

I = Introduced; R = Reinforced; A = Assessed

Courses SLO 1 SLO 2 SLO 3 SLO 4
PHY 2048 or PHY 2060 I I
PHY 2048L I I I I
PHY 2049 or PHY 2061 I I
PHY 2049L I I I I
PHY 3101 or PHY 3063 I, R I, R R
PHY 3221 or PHZ 3113 R, A R, A R
PHY 3323 R, A R, A R
PHY 3513 R, A R, A R
PHY 4604 R, A R, A R
PHY 4802L R, A R, A R, A R, A

Assessment Types

  • Field test
  • Report
  • Presentation