Firstyear students interested in majoring in physics should start with Physics 110 in the fall of their first year. Next they should take Physics 117 in the spring of their first year. In addition, students should have completed at least Calculus I (MATH 110 or 114) and Calculus II (MATH 120 or 129) by the end of their first year. Students who come to the college with a more advanced background in physics should consult the department’s Course Exemption page. Physics majors typically begin taking courses at the intermediate level by the end of the sophomore year, and are encouraged to complete required 300level courses by the end of junior year.
Students majoring in Physics must choose one of the following concentrations: Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geology, Education, Computer Science, or Renewable Energy. The Physics concentration is recommended for students who wish a thorough background in physics and for those who wish to pursue professional or graduate work in physics or engineering. The Geology concentration is recommended for students who wish to pursue careers in geology or geophysics. The Chemistry concentration is recommended for students looking for a broader physical science background. The Mathematics and Computer Science concentrations are recommended for students who want broader exposure to those fields of study. The Education concentration is recommended for students who are interested in pursuing careers in secondary science education.
Placement Information
No placement exam is required in order to take the introductorylevel physics courses. Students who received a 5 on the AP Mechanics C exam or who have previously taken collegelevel physics courses should see the department Course Exemption page for more information.
Most students who are interested in majoring in Physics should take the Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS) during the summer prior to their first year. You do not need to take the Calculus Placement Assessment if you any of the following are true:
 You received a score of 4 or 5 on either the AP Calculus AB or BC exam;
 You receive an IB Calculus HL score of 5 or above;
 You have already taken a Calculus 1 course at another accredited college or university.
Sample 4Year Plans
Physics Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 

Year 4 
Curricular Notes:
 To complete Core by the end of the sophomore year, students will need to double dip at least one course.
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 The Physics Selective can be any course from the 260 or 360 series, or 300level courses below 390, that are not otherwise required for the concentration.
Mathematics Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 


Year 4 
Curricular Notes:
 To complete Core by the end of the sophomore year, students will need to double dip at least one course.
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 The Physics Selective can be any course from the 260 or 360 series, or 300level courses below 390, that are not otherwise required for the concentration.
 The Mathematics concentration requires 8 units of 300level PHYS courses in addition to PHYS 310, PHYS 320, and PHYS 315. The department recommends PHYS 315 (2 units), PHYS 316 (2 units), PHYS 330 (4 units), and/or PHYS 340 (4 units).
 For the two 300level MATH courses, students can take any 300level MATH course except MATH 300: Junior Colloquium.
Geology Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 

Year 4 

Curricular Notes:
 To complete core by the end of the sophomore year, students will need to double dip at least two courses.
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 GEO 105 must be taken before the end of the sophomore year. Students pursuing the Geology Concentration can take PHYS 340 or PHYS 350 instead of PHYS 330, but PHYS 330 is strongly encouraged.
 A 300level Geology course can be taken instead of GEO 245 if desired.
Education Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 


Year 3 


Year 4 

Curricular Notes:
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 The Physics Selective can be any course from the 260 or 360 series, or 300level courses below 390, that are not otherwise required for the concentration.
Computer Science Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 

Year 4 

Curricular Notes:
 In order to complete core by the end of the sophomore year, at least one course will need to be double dipped.
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 Computer Science concentration students can take two from: PHYS 320, PHYS 330, PHYS 340, and PHYS 350
 The 300level COMP course can be any course except COMP 390 or practicum.
Renewable Energy Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 

Year 4 
Curricular Notes:
 To complete core by the end of the sophomore year, students will need to double dip at least one course.
 Though ECON 102 is not required for the concentration, it is a prerequisites for ECON 322 which is required.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 The Renewable Energy Concentration requires students to complete two of the following: ECON 201, UEP 246, and INT 200
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 The Physics Selective can be any course from the 260 or 360 series, or 300level courses below 390, that are not otherwise required for the concentration.
Chemistry Concentration
Fall 
Spring 

Year 1 


Year 2 

Year 3 

Year 4 
Curricular Notes:
 To complete core by the end of the sophomore year, students will need to double dip one course
 MATH 212 and MATH 214 can be taken in any order.
 Though it is not a requirement for the major, students are strongly encouraged to take COMP 165: Mathematica (2 units) by the end of their sophomore year.
 COMP 131 is recommended, but not required for this concentration.
 Chemistry Concentration students can take either PHYS 330 or PHYS 350.
Physics Transfer Student Advice
Transfer Course Limit for Transfer Students: No Limit
Expected preparation for transfer students wanting to major in Physics:

Junior transfer students

Must have completed PHYS 110 (Mechanics), PHYS 117 (Waves and Thermal Physics), PHYS 230 (Electricity and Magnetism) and PHYS 240 (Foundation of Modern Physics). All with inperson labs. Must also have completed Calculus I, Calculus II, MATH 214 (Linear Algebra), and MATH 212 (Multivariable Calculus)

Should have completed most of their Core requirements prior to transferring. It will be possible to get at most one or two more core requirements while at Occidental.


Transfer students starting midway through their sophomore year:

PHYS110 (Mechanics), PHYS 117 (Waves and Thermal Physics) and PHYS 230 (Electricity and Magnetism). All with inperson labs. Must also have completed Calculus I, Calculus II, MATH 214 (Linear Algebra), and MATH 212 (Multivariable Calculus)

Should have completed as many of their Core requirements as possible prior to transferring with the expectation that all will be complete by the end of their first semester.


Sophomore transfer students

PHYS 110 (Mechanics) and PHYS 117 (Waves and Thermal Physics). Both with inperson labs. Must also have completed Calculus I and Calculus II

Should have completed as many of their Core requirements as possible prior to transferring.

General advice for transfer students wanting to major Physics:

The following courses must be taken at Occidental: PHYS 490 and PHYS 491
What courses should a transfer student take during their first semester at Occidental?

Junior transfers must take PHYS 310 (Math Methods) and PHYS 320 (Analytical Dynamics)

Transfer students starting midway through their sophomore year must take PHYS 240 (Foundation of Modern Physics), and should take any remaining Core requirements in order to complete all of their Core requirements by the end of their first semester at Occidental

Sophomore students must take PHYS 230 (Electricity and Magnetism) and should enroll in Core requirements with a plan to complete them during their first two semesters at Occidental.