Apr 16, 2024  
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog 
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physics Major

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BS degree

The first two years of the physics major course sequence provide the core scientific and mathematical background required for advanced courses taken during the third and fourth years. The selection of these advanced courses should be consistent with students’ interests and career goals and also whether they plan to pursue graduate studies in physics after obtaining their Bachelor’s degree. Students must consult with their advisor at least once per semester to help plan their program of courses. Students are encouraged to work on individual faculty-sponsored research or independent study projects, which carry course credits that can be applied to their physics major program. The department also offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree in physics.

Calculation of GPA in the Physics Major

Students must have earned a minimum 2.000 cumulative grade point average (GPA) for all courses taken at the university in order to graduate. Students must also have a minimum 2.000 cumulative GPA in the major. For purposes of this computation:

  1. All courses with a PHY prefix at the 300-level or higher together with PHY courses 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 213, 225, 227, 234 and 252 count in calculating the GPA for a physics major.
  2. Courses required for the major but taken outside the major discipline are not counted in the calculation of the major cumulative GPA.
  3. As is the case for all University courses, only the most recently-earned course grade (whether higher or lower) shall enter in the calculation of the major cumulative GPA.


To graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, a minimum of 120 university credits are required. Of these, 45 credits of approved courses in physics; 12 credits in specified courses in mathematics; 6 credits in courses in a second science, mathematics or engineering; and 30 credits at the 300 level or higher are required. Students are required to consult with their advisor before registering for courses. A grade of C or better is required for physics majors in the PHY 111/112 or PHY 113/114 sequence and in PHY 213.

First Year

Second Semester: 16 credits

  • General Education Elective - 3 credits  (See footnote 5 below)

Second Year (Recommended Sequence)

First Semester: 16 credits

Second Semester: 16 credits

  • General Education Electives - 6 credits  (See footnote 5 below)

Third Year (Recommended Sequence)

First Semester: 15 credits

  • General Education Electives - 3 credits  (See footnote 5 below)
  • Science Elective - 3 credits  (See footnote 8 below)

Second Semester: 15 credits

  • Science Elective - 3 credits  (See footnote 8 below)
  • Free Electives - 3 credits

Fourth Year (Recommended Sequence)

First Semester: 15 credits

  • General Education - 3 credits  (See footnote 5 below)
  • Free Electives - 6 credits
  • Physics Elective (200+ level) - 3 credits

Second Semester: 15 credits

  • General Education Elective - 3 credits  (See footnote 5 below)
  • Free Electives - 3 credits
  • Physics Electives (300+ level) - 6 credits

Total Credits: 122


  1. The non-IMPULSE courses MTH 111, MTH 112 & MTH 211 can substitute for MTH 113, MTH 114 & MTH 213, respectively.
  2. The courses CIS 180 and ECE 160 also satisfy this requirement. Other courses may be substituted with approval of faculty advisor.
  3. This course meets the General Education Area I (Tier II) requirement: Information and Computer Literacy.
  4. The non-IMPULSE courses PHY 113 & PHY 114 can substitute for PHY 111 & PHY 112, respectively.
  5. Students must complete sufficient credits to satisfy the University’s General Education requirements (Areas C, D, E & G).
  6. This course satisfies the General Education Area O requirement (Oral communication).
  7. This course satisfies the General Education Area W requirement (Written communication).
  8. Students must complete 6 credits in a second science, mathematics or engineering. Both courses must be from the same department  (Biology, Chemistry, Computer and Information Science, Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering or Mechanical Engineering) or in Astrophysics (PHY 252, PHY 363). Courses must satisfy the major requirement for the respective department and be approved by the faculty advisor.
  9. A minimum of 6 credits of advanced laboratory courses is required. Other courses may be substituted with approval of faculty advisor.


* Students who intend to continue their studies in physics at the graduate level should consult frequently with their advisors. A typical course selection for students planning to attend graduate school is indicated above by an asterisk.

Distribution Requirements/General Education Requirements for Civil, Computer, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

Degree candidates in the College of Engineering must satisfy the university’s General Education requirements, as described in the Academic Policies section of this Catalogue.

  • General Education requirements in Areas M and S and the Tier 1 Writing/Information requirement are automatically satisfied by the courses shown as required for these majors.
  • The General Education requirements in Areas C, G, and D may be fulfilled by selecting courses from the approved lists in each area, using the General Education electives shown in the course requirement tables for each major.
  • The requirements for General Education areas E, I, W, and O will be specified within courses that are included in each major. Requirement tables for these areas are included for each major.

General Education Departmental Requirement

Students majoring in Physics will meet their departmentally-determined General Education requirements as follows:

Area E

Select a course from the approved list.

Area I, Tier 2

CIS/computer course approved by advisor or one of the following:

Area W, Tier 2

Pathways and START Program Requirements

Depending on the results of placement testing, new freshman students may be placed into a first-year curriculum that includes PHY 120 and 121 in lieu of the standard curriculum. The specific course sequence is established by the Pathways and START (Steps Toward Abstract Reasoning and Thinking) programs. Students should consult their advisor in these programs for further information.

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