Majors & Minors in Physics & Astronomy

The Department of Physics offers a major in Physics, major in Physics with an Emphasis in Astronomy, major in Integrated Computer Science/Physics, and a minor in Physics.

The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Official degree requirements can be found in the Whittier College Catalog.

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 on enrolling in graduate school in Physics should take all three courses from the "theory" group of PHYS 315, PHYS 330, and PHYS 350.

Guidelines for a Major in Physics

To receive a B.A. in Physics from Whittier College, students must complete 22 credits of required physics courses, 15 credits of required math and computer science courses, and either Option I or Option II below. 

Required Physics Courses

Complete 22 credits

PHYS 150 Calculus-Based Physics I (Mechanics) (4 credits)
PHYS 180 Calculus-Based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism) (4 credits)
PHYS 185 Calculus-Based Physics III Optics, Waves, and Thermodynamics (3 credits)
PHYS 275 Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 310 Mechanics (3 credits)
PHYS 380 Experimental Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 499 Senior Seminar in Physics (2 credits)

Required Math Courses

Complete 15 credits

MATH 141 Calculus and Analytical Geometry I (4 credits)
MATH 142 Calculus and Analytical Geometry II (4 credits)
MATH 241 Calculus and Analytical Geometry III (4 credits)
COSC 120 Computer Science I (3 credits)

Option I

Complete 15 credits from the following list (at least 12 must be in Physics). At least one course must be from the “theory” group of PHYS 315, 330, or 350. At least one course must be from the “topics” group of PHYS 320, 360, or 375. At least one course must be from the "mathematical methods" group of MATH 242, 345A, OR PHYS 325.

PHYS 305 Robotics with Arduino (3 credits)
PHYS 306 Computer Logic and Circuit Design (3 credits)
PHYS 315 Statistical Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 320 Optics (3 credits)
PHYS 325 Computational Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 330 Electromagnetic Theory (3 credits)
PHYS 350 Quantum Mechanics (3 credits)
PHYS 360 Astrophysics (3 credits)
PHYS 375 Solid State Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 390 Selected Topics (1 to 4 credits)
PHYS 396 Physics Research (1 to 3 credits)
PHYS 490 Selected Topics (1 to 4 credits)
MATH 242 Introduction to Applied Elementary Linear Algebra (3 credits) 
MATH 345A Differential Equations (3 credits)

Option II

Complete 12 credits from the list above (at least 9 must be in Physics). At least one course must be from the “theory” group of PHYS 315, 330, or 350. At least one course must be from the “topics” group of PHYS 320, 360, or 375. At least one course must be from the "mathematical methods" group of MATH 242, 345A, or PHYS 325. In addition, complete two semesters in another science approved by the department:

CHEM 110A General Chemistry I (4 credits) and CHEM 110B General Chemistry II (4 credits)

or

BIOL 151 Cell & Molecular Biology (4 credits) and BIOL 152 Biology of Organisms (4 credits)

or

ENVS 100 Introduction to Environmental Science (4 credits) and ENVS 251 Ecology & Evolution of Organisms (4 credits)

or

PHYS 100 Astronomy of the Solar System (3 credits) and PHYS 101 Astronomy of Stars, Galaxies and the Universe (3 credits)

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 41 credits of required physics courses, and 15 credits of required math and computer science courses.

Required Physics Courses

Complete 41 credits

PHYS 100 Astronomy of the Solar System (3 credits)
PHYS 101 Astronomy of Stars, Galaxies and the Universe (3 credits)
PHYS 150 Calculus-Based Physics I (Mechanics) (4 credits)
PHYS 180 Calculus-Based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism) (4 credits)
PHYS 185 Calculus-Based Physics III (Optics,Waves, and Thermodynamics) (3 credits)
PHYS 260 Search for Extraterrestrial Life (4 credits)
PHYS 275 Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 310 Mechanics (3 credits)
PHYS 320 Optics (3 credits)
PHYS 330 Electromagnetic Theory (3 credits)
PHYS 360 Astrophysics (3 credits)
PHYS 380 Experimental Physics (3 credits)
PHYS 499 Senior Seminar in Physics (2 credit)

Required Mathematics and Computer Science Courses

Complete 15 credits

MATH 141 Calculus & Analytical Geometry I (4 credits)
MATH 142 Calculus & Analytical Geometry II (4 credits)
MATH 241 Calculus & Analytical Geometry III (4 credits)
COSC 120 Computer Science I (3 credits)

Guidelines for a Minor in Physics

To receive a minor in Physics from Whittier College, students must complete 20 credits of required physics courses, and 12 credits of required math courses.

Required Physics Courses

Complete 20 credits

PHYS 150 Calculus-based Physics I (Mechanics) (4 credits)
PHYS 180 Calculus-based Physics II (Electricity, Magnetism) (4 credits)
PHYS 185 Calculus-based Physics III (Optics, Waves, and Thermodynamics) (3 credits)
PHYS 275 Modern Physics (3 credits)
Two upper division physics courses approved by the Physics Department (6 credits)

Required Math Courses

Complete 12 credits

MATH 141 Calculus & Analytical Geometry I (4 credits)
MATH 142 Calculus & Analytical Geometry II (4 credits)
MATH 241 Calculus & Analytical Geometry III (4 credits)