Major Requirements

Physics Major Requirements

Freshmen who enter with scores of 4 or 5 on the Physics Advanced Placement exam given by CEEB are given partial credit for the introductory courses.

Students who have a combined GPA of 2.500 or above in all mathematics and physics courses taken in the first two years will be approved for a major in physics. This requirement will be waived in those cases where students are able to show evidence of unusual circumstances.

The department offers two study options. The standard physics major is for students who seek a general physics degree. The physics major with astronomy emphasis is for students who wish to pursue their interest in astronomy. While the standard physics major generally is followed by students who plan to go on to graduate school, the major with astronomy emphasis also enables students to pursue graduate work in physics.

Both options require that students take at least 15 credits in advanced-level (numbered 300 and above) courses in residence at UWM. The College of Letters & Science requires that students attain at least a 2.0 GPA on all credits in the major attempted at UWM. In addition, students must attain a 2.0 GPA on all major credits attempted, including any transfer work. All students in the College are required to complete a research experience in their majors. Physics majors meet this requirement by successfully completing an upper-level, 3-credit laboratory courses.

Standard Physics Major

A minimum of 43 credits in physics, including:

Select one of the following options: 110
Option 1:
Physics I: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Physics II: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Option 2:
Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
PHYSICS 309Physics III: Modern Physics3
PHYSICS 270Introduction to Computational Physics3
or PHYSICS 370 Analytical and Numerical Methods in Physics
PHYSICS 317Thermodynamics3
PHYSICS 325Optics4
Select one of the following: 23
Introduction to Infrared Microspectroscopy
Experiments in Linear Electronics
Modern Physics Laboratory
Electron Microscopy Laboratory
Undergraduate Research Participation 3
PHYSICS 411Mechanics4
PHYSICS 420Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYSICS 422Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHYSICS 441Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I4
PHYSICS 442Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II3
Electives
Selecting electives are encouraged (see below)
Total Credits43

Electives

No elective courses are required, but students are encouraged to select electives from Physics or Astronomy courses 300 level or above from the following list. Only the courses identified in the list below with the phrase “if not selected above” will be counted in the student's major GPA.

ASTRON 400Astrophysics I3
ASTRON 401Astrophysics II3
PHYSICS 305Medical Physics3
PHYSICS 306Introduction to Biophysics3
PHYSICS 351Basics of Condensed Matter Physics3
PHYSICS 370Analytical and Numerical Methods in Physics (if not selected above)3
PHYSICS 391Undergraduate Research Participation1-6
PHYSICS 406Introduction to Infrared Microspectroscopy (if not selected above)3
PHYSICS 408Experiments in Linear Electronics (if not selected above)3
PHYSICS 409Modern Physics Laboratory (if not selected above)3
PHYSICS 515Statistical Mechanics3
PHYSICS 517Special Relativity3
PHYSICS 531Principles of Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYSICS 532Principles of Quantum Mechanics II3
PHYSICS 541Elementary Particles3
PHYSICS 551Introduction to Solid State Physics I3
PHYSICS 651Introduction to Solid State Physics II3
PHYSICS 670Electron Microscopy Laboratory (if not selected above)3

Physics Major with Astronomy Emphasis

A minimum of 55 credits in physics and astronomy courses, including:

Required
Select one of the following options: 110
Option 1:
Physics I: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Physics II: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Option 2:
Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
PHYSICS 309Physics III: Modern Physics3
PHYSICS 270Introduction to Computational Physics3
or PHYSICS 370 Analytical and Numerical Methods in Physics
PHYSICS 325Optics4
PHYSICS 317Thermodynamics3
Select one of the following: 23
Introduction to Infrared Microspectroscopy
Experiments in Linear Electronics
Modern Physics Laboratory
Electron Microscopy Laboratory
Undergraduate Research Participation 3
PHYSICS 411Mechanics4
PHYSICS 420Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYSICS 422Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHYSICS 441Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I4
PHYSICS 442Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II3
ASTRON 400Astrophysics I3
ASTRON 401Astrophysics II3
Electives
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Survey of Astronomy
Principles of Astronomy
The Origin, Composition, and Structure of the Planetary Atmospheres
Geology of the Planets
Undergraduate Research Participation
Special Relativity
Elementary Particles
Or another course approved by the undergraduate advisor
Total Credits55

Possible Course Substitutions for Students with Physics and Engineering Double Majors

One of the following courses may be substituted for PHYSICS 270 or PHYSICS 370:

CIV ENG 280Computer Based Engineering Analysis3
COMPSCI 240Introduction to Engineering Programming3
COMPSCI 250Introductory Computer Programming3
MECHENG 101Computational Tools for Engineers2

The following course may be substituted for PHYSICS 317:

MECHENG 301Basic Engineering Thermodynamics3

The combination of both of the following may substitute for PHYSICS 411:

CIV ENG 201Statics3
CIV ENG 202Dynamics3

Upper level engineering technical electives may be substituted for
PHYSICS 325  and independent study/research may be substituted for the 400-level laboratory courses.