Skip to Main Content

BS in Physics

BS PhysicsA BS in Physics qualifies a student for immediate professional employment, or can be used as a basis for entrance to graduate school.

The physics major program consists of 12 – 13 mandatory Physics courses (39 – 41 credits), two Physics elective courses (6 credits) and seven mandatory courses (25 or 26 credits) taught in other departments. All Physics and Mathematics courses required as prerequisites to other required Physics courses must be passed with a grade “C” or above. In addition Physics Majors must pass all 300 and 400 level Physics courses with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.

Students must apply for admission to the departmental honors program by the end of the first semester of their junior year. There is a university requirement of a GPA of 3.5 or better in the major and at least nine credits of honors course work. For physics majors, these requirements are met by taking:

  • PHYS 490H: Senior Seminar
  • PHYS 499H: Senior Research Physics
  • Six credits of elective courses

PHYS 490H: Senior Seminar is taken in the semester prior to PHYS 499H: Senior Research. An honors course in mathematical physics is also offered (PHYS 480H).

Freshman Year—Course Sequence Options

At a minimum, all freshmen intending to pursue a BS in Physics should plan to complete the following courses by the end of their freshman year:

  • PHYS 121 Introductory Physics I
  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 152 Calculus II

We recommend that physics majors register for the honors section of PHYS 121 (PHYS 121H), if available.

In addition we recommend that all students complete the following courses during their first year:

  • CHEM 101 Principles of Chemistry I
    – AND-
  • CMSC 104 Problem-Solving and Computer-Programming
    -OR-
  • CMSC 201 Computer Science I for Majors (Choose CMSC201 if you plan to get a MATH or CMSC minor)

The goal for all physics majors is that by the end of your third semester at UMBC the following courses have also been completed:

  • PHYS 122 Introductory Physics II
  • PHYS 122L Introductory Lab
  • MATH 251: Multivariable Calculus
  • And, if possible, also PHYS 224: Introductory Physics III

The three most common options for freshmen are:

A: No AP Physics placement and no prior calculus experience

YEAR 1

1st Semester 2nd Semester
MATH 151 MATH 152
CMSC 104 or 201 PHYS 121
CHEM 101 GEP Elective
ENGL 100 GEP Elective

YEAR 2

3rd Semester 4th Semester
PHYS 122 PHYS 224
PHYS 122L PHYS 220
MATH 251 MATH 225

YEAR 3

5th Semester 6th Semester
PHYS 324 PHYS 321
PHYS 330L PHYS 320L
MATH 221

YEAR 4

7th Semester 8th Semester
PHYS 303 PHYS 407
PHYS 424 PHYS 431L
PHYS Elective PHYS Elective

 

B: No AP Physics placement but some high-school calculus

YEAR 1

1st Semester 2nd Semester
MATH 151 MATH 152
CMSC 104 or 201 PHYS 122
PHYS 121 PHYS 122L
ENGL 100 GEP Elective

YEAR 2

3rd Semester 4th Semester
MATH 251 MATH 225
PHYS 224 PHYS 324
CHEM 101 PHYS 220

YEAR 3

5th Semester 6th Semester
MATH 221 PHYS 321
PHYS 303 PHYS 320L
PHYS 330L

YEAR 4

7th Semester 8th Semester
PHYS 424 PHYS 407
PHYS 431L PHYS Elective
PHYS Elective

 

C: One or more AP Physics Placements (Score 4 or 5) and AP Calculus Placement
Before choosing this option, you should contact the Associate Chair.

YEAR 1

1st Semester 2nd Semester
MATH 152 MATH 251
PHYS 122 PHYS 224
CMSC 104 or 201 PHYS 122L
ENGL 100 GEP Elective

YEAR 2

3rd Semester 4th Semester
PHYS 324 PHYS 321
MATH 225 PHYS 220
CHEM 101 MATH 221

YEAR 3

5th Semester 6th Semester
PHYS 303 PHYS 320L
PHYS 330L PHYS 407

YEAR 4

7th Semester 8th Semester
PHYS 424 PHYS 431L
PHYS Elective PHYS Elective

 

For more specific advice, please contact Dr. Terrance Worchesky, Associate Chair, at worchesk@umbc.edu or 410-455-6779