Majors & Minors

The Department of Physics offers a Major in Physics, Major in Physics with an Emphasis in Astronomy, and a Minor in Physics.

Maximum Credits in Physics Courses

Physics majors should be aware that a maximum of 48 credits of physics courses can be counted toward the 120 units required for graduation. Physics majors are welcome to take more than 48 credits of physics courses, but doing so will necessitate completion of more than 120 credits in order to receive a B.A. from Whittier College.

Preparation for Graduate Programs

Students planning to enter Ph.D. programs in Physics should plan to take more than the minimum number of Physics and Math courses.

Guidelines for a Major in Physics

To receive a B.A. in Physics from Whittier College, students must complete 31 credits of required physics courses, 15 credits of required math courses, and either option I or option II below. 

Required Physics Courses:

Calculus-based Physics I (Mechanics), PHYS 150, 4 credits
Calculus-based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism and Thermodynamics), PHYS 180, 5 credits
Computational Oscillations and Waves, PHYS 250, 3 credits
Optics and Modern Physics, PHYS 275, 4 credits
Classical Mechanics, PHYS 310, 3 credits
Electromagnetic Theory, PHYS 330, 3 credits
Quantum Mechanics, PHYS 350, 3 credits
Experimental Physics, PHYS 380, 3 credits
Senior Seminar, PHYS 499A,B, 3 credits

Required Math Courses:

Calculus I and II, MATH 141 A, B, 8 credits 
(Note: MATH 139 A, B may substitute for MATH 141A)
Calculus III, MATH 241, 4 credits
Elementary Applied Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, MATH 242, 3 credits

Option I
Completion of 9 credits from the following list (at least six must be in Physics)
           Electronics and Computer Interfacing, PHYS 205, 3 credits
           Optics, PHYS 320, 3 credits
           Statistical Physics, PHYS 315, 3 credits
           Astrophysics, PHYS 360, 3 credits
           Solid State Physics, PHYS 375, 3 credits
           Selected Topics, PHYS 390,490, 3 credits
           Undergraduate Research, PHYS 396,496, 1-3 credits
           Complex Variables, MATH 344, 3 credits
           Differential Equations I, MATH 345A, 3 credits
           Numerical Analysis, MATH 350, 3 credits
           Linear Algebra, MATH 380, 3 credits
           Programming I, COSC 120, 3 credits

Option II
Completion of 6 credits from the list above (at least 3 in physics) plus a two-semester introductory sequence in another science approved by the department (e.g., CHEM 110 A, B).

Guidelines for the Major in Physics with an Emphasis in Astronomy

To receive a B.A. in Physics with an emphasis in Astronomy from Whittier College, students must complete 44 credits of required physics courses, and 15 credits of required math courses.

Required Physics Courses:

Astronomy of the Solar System, PHYS 100, 3 credits
Astronomy of Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe, PHYS 101, 3 credits
Calculus-based Physics I (Mechanics), PHYS 150, 4 credits
Calculus-based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism and Thermodynamics), PHYS 180, 5 credits
Computational Oscillations and Waves, PHYS 250, 3 credits
Search for Extraterrestrial Life, PHYS 260, 4 credits
Optics and Modern Physics, PHYS 275, 4 credits
Classical Mechanics, PHYS 310, 3 credits
Optics, PHYS 320, 3 credits
Electromagnetic Theory, PHYS 330, 3 credits
Astrophysics, PHYS 360, 3 credits
Experimental Physics, PHYS 380, 3 credits
Senior Seminar, PHYS 499A,B, 3 credits

Required Math Courses:

Calculus I and II, MATH 141 A, B, 8 credits
(Note: MATH 139 A, B may substitute for MATH 141A)
Calculus III, MATH 241, 4 credits
Elementary Applied Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, MATH 242, 3 credits

Guidelines for a Minor in Physics

To receive a minor in Physics from Whittier College, students must complete at least 22 credits in physics and 12 credits in math.

Required Physics Courses:

Calculus-based Physics I (Mechanics), PHYS 150, 4 credits
Calculus-based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism and Thermodynamics), PHYS 180, 5 credits
Computational Oscillations and Waves, PHYS 250, 3 credits
Optics and Modern Physics, PHYS 275, 4 credits
Two upper division physics courses approved by the Physics Department, 6 credits

Required Math Courses:

Calculus I and II, MATH 141 A, B, 8 credits
(Note: MATH 139 A, B may substitute for MATH 141A)
Calculus III, MATH 241, 4 credits