Physics is the most fundamental natural 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.
To graduate with this major, students must complete all university, college, and major requirements.
Overview
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.
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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 2048 / PHY 2060
- PHY 2049 / PHY 2061
- PHY 3101 / PHY 3063
- PHY 3221 / PHZ 3113
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.
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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 2048/2049 count toward the major.
- MET 1010 Introduction to Weather and Climate
- PHY 1033C Discovering Physics
- PHY 2020 Introduction to the Principles of Physics (MAC 1147)
- Any of the general physics sequences (PHY 2004/2005, PHY 2048/2049 and PHY 2053/2054) meet this requirement. Students should check the prerequisites carefully before enrolling in a general physics course.
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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.
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Research
All undergraduate majors are encouraged to participate in research activities. The majority of physics students 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.
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Bachelor of Arts
Critical TrackingModel Semester Plan
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.
The B.A. requires a minimum of 32 credit hours in physics plus 25 credits of related coursework. Minimum grades of C are required for coursework counted toward the major.
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Required Coursework
- PHY 2048 Physics with Calculus 1 or
PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 2048L Physics with Calculus 1 Laboratory (1 credit)
- PHY 2049 Physics with Calculus 2 or
PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2 (3 credits)
- PHY 2049L Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 (1 credit)
- PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics or
PHY 3063 Enriched Modern Physics (3 credits)
- PHY 3221 Mechanics 1 or
PHZ 3113 Introduction to Theoretical Physics (3 credits)
- PHY 3323 Electromagnetism 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 3513 Thermal Physics 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1 or
PHY 4803L Laboratory Physics 2 (3 credits)
- Any two 4000-level or higher physics courses that are included in the physics major curriculum (6 credits minimum). PHY 4905 Individual Work and PHY 4911 are not acceptable for this requirement.
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Related Coursework
- Three semesters of Calculus (MAC 2311, MAC 2312, MAC 2313; 12 credits)
- One year of college-level general chemistry, including one chemistry laboratory course (CHM 2045 and CHM 2046, CHM 2045L; 7 credits)
- MAP 2302 Differential Equations (3 credits)
- Three credits minimum in approved math courses beyond MAP 2302 Differential Equations
- Certain computer science courses may substitute for the math elective
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Critical Tracking
Note that critical tracking is the same for both degrees.
Critical Tracking records each student’s progress in courses that are required for entry to 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
- Complete CHM 1025 or CHM 2045; or PHY 2048 or PHY 2060; and a MAC course
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 2
- Complete CHM 2045/2045L and MAC 2311
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 3
- Complete CHM 2046, MAC 2312, and PHY 2048 or PHY 2060
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 4
- Complete MAC 2313; and PHY 2049 or PHY 2061 with a 2.5 critical-tracking GPA
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 5
- Complete MAP 2302 with a 2.5 critical-tracking GPA
- 2.0 UF GPA required
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Model Semester Plan
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 on the department's website and students can email advisors.
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).
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.
Semester 2 |
Credits |
CHM 2046 General Chemistry 2 GE-P |
3 |
IUF 1000 What is the Good Life GE-H |
3 |
MAC 2312 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 2 GE-M |
4 |
PHY 2048 Physics with Calculus 1 or PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1 (GE-P) |
3 |
PHY 2048L Physics with Calculus 1 Laboratory GE-P |
1 |
Elective |
2 |
Total |
16 |
Semester 3 |
Credits |
MAC 2313 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 3 GE-M |
4 |
PHY 2049 Physics with Calculus 2 or PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2 (GE-P) |
3 |
PHY 2049L Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 GE-P |
1 |
Biological Science GE-B |
3 |
Foreign language |
4-5 |
Total |
15-16 |
Semester 4 |
Credits |
MAP 2302 Elementary Differential Equations GE-M |
3 |
PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics GE-P |
3 |
Biological Science GE-B |
3 |
Foreign language |
3-5 |
Humanities State Core GE-H |
3 |
Total |
15-17 |
Semester 5 |
Credits |
PHY 3221 Mechanics 1 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 3513 Thermal Physics 1 GE-P |
3 |
Elective Or foreign language if 4-3-3 option |
3 |
Mathematics elective |
3 |
Social and Behavioral Sciences GE-S |
3 |
Total |
15 |
Semester 6 |
Credits |
PHY 3323 Electromagnetism 1 GE-P |
3 |
Composition ENC 3254 Writing in the Discipline recommended; GE-C; WR |
3 |
Elective |
3 |
Humanities GE-H |
3 |
Physics elective 4000 level or higher |
3 |
Total |
15 |
Semester 7 |
Credits |
PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1 |
3 |
Electives 3000-level or higher, outside major |
7 |
Social and Behavioral Sciences GE-S |
3 |
Total |
16 |
Semester 8 |
Credits |
Electives |
11 |
Physics elective 4000 level or higher |
3 |
Total |
14 |
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Bachelor of Science
Critical TrackingModel Semester Plan
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.
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Required Coursework
- PHY 2048 Physics with Calculus 1 or
PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 2048L Physics with Calculus 1 Laboratory (1 credit)
- PHY 2049 Physics with Calculus 2 or
PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2 (3 credits)
- PHY 2049L Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 (1 credit)
- PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics or
PHY 3063 Enriched Modern Physics (3 credits)
- PHY 3221 Mechanics 1 or
PHZ 3113 Introduction to Theoretical Physics (3 credits)
- PHY 3323 Electromagnetism 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 3513 Thermal Physics 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 4222 Mechanics 2 (3 credits)
- PHY 4324 Electromagnetism 2 (3 credits)
- PHY 4523 Statistical Physics (3 credits)
- PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1 (3 credits)
- PHY 4803L Laboratory Physics 2 (3 credits)
- One 4000-level or higher physics course that is included in the physics major curriculum (3 credits). PHY 4905 Individual Work and PHY 4911 are not acceptable for this requirement.
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Related Coursework
- Three semesters of Calculus (MAC 2311, MAC 2312, MAC 2313; 12 credits)
- One year of college-level general chemistry, including one chemistry laboratory course (CHM 2045 and CHM 2046, CHM 2045L; 7 credits)
- Differential Equations MAP 2302 (3 credits)
- Six credits minimum in approved math courses beyond MAP 2302 Differential Equations.
- Certain computer science courses may substitute for one of the math electives.
- Minimum grades of C for coursework counted toward the major
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Critical Tracking
Note that critical tracking is the same for both degrees.
Critical Tracking records each student’s progress in courses that are required for entry to 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
- Complete CHM 1025 or CHM 2045; or PHY 2048 or PHY 2060; and a MAC course
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 2
- Complete CHM 2045/2045L and MAC 2311
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 3
- Complete CHM 2046, MAC 2312, and PHY 2048 or PHY 2060
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 4
- Complete MAC 2313; and PHY 2049 or PHY 2061 with a 2.5 critical-tracking GPA
- 2.0 UF GPA required
Semester 5
- Complete MAP 2302 with a 2.5 critical-tracking GPA
- 2.0 UF GPA required
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Model Semester Plan
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 and students can email advisors.
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).
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.
Semester 2 |
Credits |
CHM 2046 General Chemistry 2 GE-P |
3 |
IUF 1000 What is the Good Life GE-H |
3 |
MAC 2312 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 2 GE-M |
4 |
PHY 2048 Physics with Calculus 1 or PHY 2060 Enriched Physics with Calculus 1 (GE-P) |
3 |
PHY 2048L Physics with Calculus 1 Laboratory GE-P |
1 |
Elective |
1 |
Total |
15 |
Semester 3 |
Credits |
MAC 2313 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 3 GE-M |
4 |
PHY 2049 Physics with Calculus 2 or PHY 2061 Enriched Physics with Calculus 2 (GE-P) |
3 |
PHY 2049L Laboratory for Physics with Calculus 2 GE-P |
1 |
Biological Science GE-B |
3 |
Foreign language |
4-5 |
Total |
15-16 |
Semester 4 |
Credits |
MAP 2302 Elementary Differential Equations GE-M |
3 |
PHY 3101 Introduction to Modern Physics GE-P |
3 |
Biological Science GE-B |
3 |
Foreign language |
3-5 |
Humanities State Core GE-H |
3 |
Total |
15-17 |
Semester 5 |
Credits |
PHY 3221 Mechanics 1 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 3513 Thermal Physics 1 GE-P |
3 |
Elective Or foreign language if 4-3-3 option |
3 |
Mathematics elective |
3 |
Social and Behavioral Sciences GE-S |
3 |
Total |
15 |
Semester 6 |
Credits |
PHY 3323 Electromagnetism 1 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 4222 Mechanics 2 |
3 |
Composition ENC 3254 Professional Writing in the Discipline recommended; GE-C; WR |
3 |
Humanities GE-H |
3 |
Mathematics elective |
3 |
Total |
15 |
Semester 7 |
Credits |
PHY 4324 Electromagnetism 2 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 4604 Introductory Quantum Mechanics 1 GE-P |
3 |
PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1 |
3 |
Elective 3000-level or higher, outside major |
4 |
Social and Behavioral Sciences GE-S |
3 |
Total |
16 |
Semester 8 |
Credits |
PHY 4523 Statistical Physics |
3 |
PHY 4803L Laboratory Physics 2 |
3 |
Electives |
6 |
Physics elective |
3 |
Total |
15 |
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Related Physics Programs
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