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Major in Physics

 The major in Physics consists of a minimum core of physics and mathematics courses. It provides a rigorous background combined with maximum flexibility for students who have a strong interest in an additional field of study.

Effective Spring 2011, all classes taken for the Physics major, including math supporting courses, require a minimum grade of "C" in order to qualify for the degree.  If the "C" minimum grade is not achieved, the course must be repeated.  If the course is a prerequisite for a higher-level course, the student may not enroll in the higher-level course until the prerequisite course is repeated and a "C" minimum grade is achieved. In addition, no course can be taken more than twice.

The major program requires completion of a total of fifty-six (56) credits, of which forty-four (44) credits correspond to Physics, as follows:

Lower-division required courses (12 credits):

  • PHYS - 110 General Physics I
  • PHYS - 210 General Physics II
  • PHYS - 240 Modern Physics

Upper-division required courses (32 credits):

  • PHYS - 301 Computational Physics
  • PHYS - 310 Analytical Mechanics
  • PHYS - 312 Statistical and Thermal Physics
  • PHYS - 320 Electromagnetism
  • PHYS - 330 Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS - 340 Optics
  • PHYS - 341 Upper-Division Laboratory I or
  • PHYS - 342 Upper-Division Laboratory II Note: UD Lab I and II are non-sequential courses.
  • PHYS - 371 Methods of Mathematical Physics
  • PHYS - 350 Physics Colloquium Note: Two (2) credits are required.

Required Math supporting courses (12 credits):

    • Twelve (12) credits of Calculus and Analytical Geometry


Learning Goals/Outcomes for the B.S. in Physics and Astronomy

Department Mission

The mission of the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of San Francisco is to provide students with a solid foundation in the fundamental concepts of classical and modern physics, exposing them to the scientific methodology of hypothesis testing, using a variety of tools including abstract thought, experimentation, and mathematical and computer modeling. This foundation prepares students for further study in graduate school and for careers as professional physicists or engineers, who will create the science and technology of the future, by providing a comprehensive coverage of experimental, theoretical, and computational physics, and by combining coursework together with on- and off-campus research and exposure to cutting-edge equipment and laboratory techniques, both in the classroom and in industrial settings.

As an integral part of a Jesuit institution of liberal learning, the Physics and Astronomy Department seeks to provide students, both science and non-science majors, with an appreciation for science and its relation with and responsibility toward society, educating the leaders of tomorrow and fostering the understanding that a college degree is not an end in and of itself, but only the beginning of a person's journey through a life of learning and service.

Learning Goals/Outcomes of the Physics Program

Students in the Physics Program at USF will:

    • Demonstrate proficiency in the basic subfields of physics (classical mechanics, electricity and magneticism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics), as well as areas of application (e.g., solid state physics, astrophysics, etc...).
    • Apply physical principles to novel situations, both in the classroom and in research settings, through critical thinking, problem solving, mathematical and computer modeling, and laboratory experimentation.
    • Construct and assemble experimental apparatuses, conduct and analyze measurements of physical phenomena, assess experimental uncertainty, and make meaningful comparisons between experiment and theory.