Required Courses

Introductory Courses

The introductory courses required for the physics major and minor are PHYS 121 and PHYS 122 (or PHYS 101 and 102) and MATH 101 and MATH 102. Students are encouraged to place out of MATH 101 and 102 if that is appropriate. Although College credit is given for a score of 4 or 5 on the AP tests and for a score of 5 or above on the IB examination, the AP and IB courses are not equivalent to PHYS 121 and PHYS 122 and advanced placement will not, in general, be given. However, students with a particularly strong background in physics are encouraged to take the departmental placement examination either during the summer before entering Bryn Mawr or just prior to, or during, the first week of classes. Then, the department can place students in the appropriate course. Students are not given credit for courses they place out of as a result of taking this placement exam. It is best for a student considering a physics major to complete the introductory requirements in the first year. However, the major sequence is designed so that a student who completes the introductory sequence by the end of the sophomore year can major in physics.

Major Courses

The physics major provides depth in the discipline through a series of required courses, as well as the flexibility to choose from a range of electives in physics and related fields. This allows students to follow various paths through the major and thus tailor their program of study to best meet their career goals and scientific interests.

Beyond the two introductory physics courses and the two introductory mathematics courses, ten additional courses are required for the major. (Haverford courses may be substituted for Bryn Mawr courses where appropriate.) Five of the ten courses must be PHYS 201, 214, 306, and MATH 201, 203. In addition, either PHYS 331 or 305 is required as well as the half-credit Senior Seminar, PHYS 398 offered each fall. PHYS 331 and PHYS 305 are Writing Intensive courses and by completing at least one of them, students can meet the Writing Requirement in the major. The remaining three courses must be chosen from among the other 300-level physics courses, one of which may be substituted with one course from among ASTR 342, 343, and 344, or a 300-level math course, with the approval of the major's advisor. Other substitutions from related disciplines such as chemistry, geology, and engineering) may be possible. Please consult with the major's advisor to discuss such options.

Minor Requirements

The requirements for the minor, beyond the introductory sequence, are PHYS 201, 214 and 306; PHYS 331 or 305; MATH 201, 203; and one additional 300-level physics course. The astronomy and mathematics courses described under "Major Requirements" may not be substituted for the one additional 300-level physics course.

Recommendations for Non-Majors, Pre-Health Professions Track

Students on a pre-health professions track wanting to take one year of physics should take PHYS 101 and PHYS 102. Some students on a physical sciences major track could take PHYS 121 and PHYS 122 and others might take PHYS 122 and PHYS 201. See your major adviser and carefully note the math pre- and co-requisites for these courses. PHYS 121/122/201/214 is a coordinated, four-semester sequence in physics. Students are encouraged to place out of MATH 101 and 102 if that is appropriate.

The figure below shows all the major courses offered with some regularity, together with their pre- and co-requisites.

Physics major course table
physics lab

Contact Us

Department of Physics

Park Science Building
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5358