Physics and Astronomy

Physics BS

The Physics BS major should be pursued if students intend to continue toward the PhD in Physics.

Learning Outcomes

The Physics major has the following learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrated mastery of the fundamental principles and applications of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics
  • Demonstrated mastery of the associated necessary mathematical skills in differential equations, analysis, and linear algebra
  • Demonstrated mastery of a specialized area of physics of choice, such as condense matter or plasma physics
  • Demonstrated proficiency in basic lab skills, including understanding and using modern instrumentation and computers
  • Development of critical scientific thinking
  • Ability to retrieve and organize scientific information
  • Ability to apply scientific methodology to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze a wide variety of physical phenomena
  • Ability to present clear written and oral accounts of old and new scientific results

Preparation for the Major

Required: Physics 1A or 1AH, 1B or 1BH, 1C or 1CH, 4AL, 4BL, 17, 18L; Chemistry and Biochemistry 20A; Mathematics 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B. A detailed brochure on the major is available from the Undergraduate Office, 1-707A Physics and Astronomy Building.

Transfer Students

Transfer applicants to the Physics BS major with 90 or more units must complete the following introductory courses prior to admission to UCLA: two years of calculus, one and one half years of calculus-based physics with laboratory for majors, and one general chemistry course for majors.

Refer to the UCLA transfer admission guide for up-to-date information regarding transfer selection for admission.

The Major

Required: Physics 105A, 105B, 110A, 110B, 112, 115A, 115B, 115C, 131. The remainder of the course of study consists of a plan, to be worked out by students in consultation with their designated departmental adviser, that details which courses they take to complete the degree. There are four overall requirements: (1) the plan must be worked out five terms before students expect to graduate; (2) the plan must include two courses from Physics 118 and 180A through 180Q, which should be taken in the senior year; (3) there must be three additional upper-division courses in the plan, preferably selected from Physics 108, 114, 117, M122, 123, 124, 126, 127, 128, 132, 140A, 140B, 144, 150, C187A, 188A; (4) there must be written rationale for the plan. Except for the Physics 180 laboratories, the courses need not be in the Physics and Astronomy Department. However, it is expected that the courses fit into a coherent structure. It is important that the structure and rationale are thought out carefully, as the plan must be endorsed by the designated adviser and be approved by the departmental academic affairs committee. Preapproved plans of study are available from the undergraduate advisers. A C average is required in all courses taken to satisfy the major requirements.

Students preparing for graduate school should take additional courses in physics and mathematics. Physics 108, 114, 117, M122, 123, 124, 126, 132, 140A, and 140B are recommended.

Honors Programs

The department offers three honors programs leading to graduation with honors or highest honors in physics. Students are eligible after completing the preparation for the major and four upper-division physics courses with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 and a 3.5 GPA in upper-division physics and mathematics courses. Contact the Undergraduate Office for a complete description of the programs and an application.