Minor in Physics

The Minor in Physics is ideal for students who want to explore physics beyond the lower-division introductory sequence and take upper-division courses. To be admitted to the Minor in Physics, students must complete the calculus sequence MATH 226 , MATH 227 , and MATH 228 , and also either MATH 245 or both MATH 225 and MATH 376 .

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe universal physical principles in classical mechanics, electricity & magnetism, special & general relativity, thermodynamics & statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, astronomy & astrophysics, and relate fundamental conservation principles (conservation of energy, conservation of linear momentum, conservation of angular momentum) to underlying symmetries of nature.
  2. Analyze real-world physical systems on Earth and throughout the Universe, develop simplified models of such systems, translate physical principles into the language of mathematics, and then apply the appropriate mathematical tools (vector calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, variational techniques, probability & statistics, numerical & computational methods) to determine a system's spatiotemporal evolution with an awareness of the limitations of any solutions due to the approximations of the physical models and/or mathematical/computational techniques.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency with basic laboratory skills and experimental techniques with electronics, lasers & optical devices, sensors, detectors, microscopes, and telescopes, always with appropriate safety practices (especially with respect to lasers, chemicals, radioactive materials).
  4. Articulate and apply the “scientific method,” the empirical, iterative method of acquiring new knowledge through developing models to explain observations of the natural world, formulating testable hypotheses, designing and executing experimental, computational, and theoretical investigations to test predictions, analyzing data with appropriate statistics and attention to uncertainties, ascertaining consistency with existing theories, and sharing results with the broader scientific community for confirmation and validation.
  5. Demonstrate writing, speaking, and visual data presentation skills to effectively communicate science at the appropriate level of sophistication for the relevant target audience (e.g., instructors, students, scientists, public-at-large, policy-makers).
  6. Develop the social and communication skills to effectively participate in diverse scientific teams, including those that are multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary, and appreciate that the pursuit of science is a human endeavor and that progress is best made when the full spectrum of humanity is encouraged to participate and share their perspectives, passions, and skills.
  7. Engage local, state, national & global communities to address current and emerging scientific and technological challenges in equitable and environmentally sustainable ways.

Physics Minor — 21 units

  • Lower-division courses must be taken for letter grades and be passed with grades of C or better.  
  • PHYS 320 must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of C-minus or better.  
  • No more than 3 units of electives on a CR/NC basis in courses where CR/NC is allowed.
  • All coursework used to satisfy the requirements of the minor must be completed with a minimum grade point average of 2.0.  
  • A minimum of 6 upper-division units are required to complete the minor.

Required Courses (15 units)

PHYS 220
PHYS 222
General Physics with Calculus I
and General Physics with Calculus I Laboratory
PHYS 230
PHYS 232
General Physics with Calculus II
and General Physics with Calculus II Laboratory
PHYS 240
PHYS 242
General Physics with Calculus III
and General Physics with Calculus III Laboratory
PHYS 320Modern Physics I3

Electives (6 units)

Take two upper-division ASTR or PHYS course. No more than 3 units of 600-level ASTR or PHYS course may be used as an elective.