Prospective physics majors are strongly encouraged to begin their study of physics and mathematics in the first year. Physics courses are somewhat sequential and are developed in close association with mathematics courses. The curriculum provides an excellent basis for many post-Carleton career paths, including teaching, medicine, working in industry, and graduate study in physics, astronomy, and in various fields of engineering.
Most first-year students considering a major in physics will take either two 5-week courses (Physics 131 AND Physics 151) or one 10-week course (Physics 143 or Physics 144). Although taught from slightly different perspectives, the two 5-week courses or the 10-week course will cover fundamental topics in Newtonian mechanics and special relativity that prepare students for further work in physics and related fields. We also offer a section of Physics 143 with problem solving that is taught in the spring term. This section provides additional problem-solving instruction and is appropriate for students who could benefit from additional support in the study of college-level physics.
Required courses, 72 credits total
Introductory courses required are either:
Other required Physics courses:
- PHYS 228 or PHYS 226/227
- PHYS 231
- PHYS 235
- PHYS 335
- PHYS 342
- PHYS 400
- plus one applied physics course:
Required mathematics courses:
Additional courses that are often recommended include Physics 123, 346, 356, Astronomy 113, 356, Chemistry 123, Mathematics 241, 261, 341, and Computer Science 111. Students considering graduate school in physics are strongly encouraged to take Physics 346, 352, and 355.
Major Under Combined Plan in Engineering:
In addition to completing the requirements for the physics major listed above, the student should also take the following courses required for admission to our partner institution, Washington University: Mathematics 241, Chemistry 123, and Computer Science 111.