Degree Requirements

These requirements apply to students who entered NU in Fall 2016 or later. For requirements applicable to students in earlier classes, click here. 

Notices for 2017-18

The 9am section of 135-1/2/3 (Fall/Winter/Spring) is intended for prospective physics majors and minors, and for others who want to learn physics in greater depth. Permission is required and may be obtained from Yassaman Shemirani.

Phys 211-1/2 (Mathematical Methods for Physical Sciences) has been renumbered to Phys 311-1/2 and will be offered in Fall and Winter. These two quarters are considered the equivalent of three Math courses (Math 240/250/351) for the purpose of the physics major. If you are working towards a second major that requires any of these three Math courses, but would prefer to take Phys 311, please contact the Physics DUS for advice or assistance.

The Phys 333-1/2 (Electricity and Magnetism) sequence will be offered as usual (winter and spring) in 2017-18. However, Phys 333-2 will be taught again in fall 2018 for those who would rather not take Phys 333-2 and 339-2 in the same quarter. After that, the 333 sequence will be regularly offered in spring (-1) followed by fall (-2).

Phys 337-0 is now "Physics of Condensed Matter" and will cover a variety of current topics. It will be offered in spring 2018. The prerequisites have been reduced: only Phys 339-1 or equivalent is required. This will allow students the option to take Phys 339-1 followed by Phys 337-0 in the same year. 

Students majoring in physics or astronomy normally take PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 in their first year. Qualified students may take PHYSICS 125-1,2,3 (Physics for ISP) with consent of the department. Depending on their high school preparation, physics and astronomy majors normally also take calculus in their freshman year (MATH 220, 224, 230). However, students taking PHYSICS 125-1,2,3 must be enrolled in one of the advanced mathematics sequences (MATH 281-1,2,3 or 290-1,2,3).

Specifically, physics and astronomy majors must pass these courses or the equivalent:

Prerequisites (6 units)

MATH 220 and 224 or 212, 213, and 214
PHYSICS 125-1,2,3 and 126-1, 2, 3 or 135-1,2,3 and 136-1, 2, 3
Students with advanced credit can place out of all or part of these six courses.

Core Courses (11 units)

Math 230, 234 and Physics 311-1,2; OR Math 230, 234, 240, 250 and 351; OR equivalent
PHYSICS 239-0 (Foundations of Modern Physics)
PHYSICS 330-1 (Classical Mechanics)
PHYSICS 332-0 (Statistical Mechanics)
PHYSICS 333-1 (Electricity & Magnetism)
PHYSICS 339-1 (Quantum Mechanics)
One lab course from PHYSICS 357-0, 358-0, 359-0, 360-0


Beyond the required basic and core courses, majors must also select at least one of the following concentrations and complete all the course requirements in that concentration:

Advanced Physics (6 units)

PHYSICS 330-2 (Classical Mechanics)
PHYSICS 333-2 (Electricity & Magnetism)
PHYSICS 339-2 (Quantum Mechanics)
One lab course from ASTRON 321-0, PHYSICS 357-0, 358-0, 359-0, 360-0
Two other 300-level physics or astronomy courses other than PHYSICS 311-1,2, 335, 398, 399 or ASTRON 398, 399

Astronomy (6 units)

PHYSICS 330-2 (Classical Mechanics)
PHYSICS 333-2 (Electricity & Magnetism)
PHYSICS 339-2 (Quantum Mechanics)
ASTRON 220-0 (Introduction to Astrophysics)
Two other 300-level astronomy classes other than 398 or 399 (Independent Study)

Flexible (5 units)

Three 300-level Physics & Astronomy lecture courses or lab courses (NOT Phys 335/398/399 or Astron 398/399), PLUS 2 courses from the following list:

APPM 322 (Applied Dynamical Systems)
BME 305 (Biomedical Signals and Imaging)
BME 327 (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
CHEM 307 (Materials and Nanochemistry)
EECS 360 (Introduction to Feedback Systems)
EECS 381 Electronic Properties of Materials
MAT_SCI 315 (Phase Equilibria and Diffusion of Materials)
MAT_SCI 331 (Soft Materials)
MAT_SCI 351-1 (Introductory Physics of Materials 1)
MAT_SCI 351-2 (Introductory Physics of Materials 2)
MAT_SCI 361 (Crystallography and Diffraction)
MAT_SCI 376 (Nanomaterials)
MATH 354-1,2 (Chaotic Dynamical Systems)
MECH_ENG 346 (Introduction to Tribology)
MECH-ENG 385 (Nanotechnology)
PHYSICS: any 300-level lecture course or lab course that is not otherwise required (and NOT Phys 311-1,2, 335/398/399 or Astron 398/399)