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Comprehensive Physics Track

The Comprehensive Track is aimed at those wishing a thorough grounding in physics.  If you are heading for graduate school in physics, astronomy, or a related field, this is the track for you.  You will need to take more than the minimum requirements and do well in your classes to be accepted at a top physics graduate school.
Below are several potential paths to a degree, depending on the quarter you start Physics 121, whether or not you are headed for grad school, whether or not you are able to use the summer quarter, and how many years you wish to spend at UW after taking Phys 123.

Comprehensive Option Requirements

In addition to the common core (see Major Requirements), the Comprehensive Option requires the following:

  1. 20 credits from: PHYS 226; PHYS 228; PHYS 324; minimum of three courses from PHYS 323, PHYS 325, PHYS 328, PHYS 329, ASTR 321, OR ASTR 322.
  2. One additional math course from the core list (3-4 credits)
    MATH 307/AMATH 351,
    MATH 308/AMATH 352,
    MATH 309/AMATH 353,
    MATH 324, MATH 326, or AMATH 401.
  3. Advanced Laboratory (6-8 credits): Two courses from PHYS 331, PHYS 335, PHYS 431, PHYS 432, PHYS 433, PHYS 434, and either ASTR 480 or ASTR 481.
  4. Upper Division Lecture electives (6 credits): See advisor for approved list of electives.
  5. Undergraduate Research:  3 credits from any combination of PHYS 485, PHYS 486, PHYS 487, PHYS 494, PHYS 495, PHYS 496, PHYS 499, ASTR 481 or ASTR 499. (ASTR 481 may count as lab or research).

Standard Paths to a Comprehensive Option in Physics

LegendBOLD= required; * = lab; ^ = specific electives, italics = choose one or more

Standard 4 Yr Path – Comprehensive, headed for Physics Grad School

NB:  The official physics degree requirements are done at end of Junior year. The fourth year should be spent taking more advanced courses to prepare for graduate school or other career goals.

The Sophomore/Junior years allows a degree in 2 yrs after completing 121-2-3 and most distribution requirements at community college.  The extra year should be included if you are headed for graduate school.

Some classes on this chart are optional (in plain black type), but are recommended for grad school.

Year   Autumn Winter Spring
Freshman   121 or 121H
Math 124/134
122 or 122H
Math 125/135
123 or 123H
Math 126/136
Sophomore   224
227
231 (lab)
217
Math 307 a/o 308
225
228
294
334* (lab)
Math 324
226
335* (lab)
another math (opt)
Junior   321
324
331* or 434*
cognate subj
322
325^
research
cognate subj
323^
329^
research
Senior REU 328^
422
433*
485/494
special topics
research 
423
431*
429
486/495
special topics
research
421
432*
487/496
special topics
research

 

Modifications if start Phys 121 in Winter or Spring:

If start Phys 121 in Winter, can take 123 over the summer, and then continue from Sophomore year above.  If start 121 in spring, take 122 over the summer, and then follow  the "start 123 in autumn" path below.

Arrive from CC needing 123 in Autumn; Heading to Grad School in 3 years

  • Option 1:  No Summers
Year Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Sophomore   123
224
Math 126
294
334
Math 307 or 308
227
335*
Math 324
Junior   321
331* or 434*
cognate sci
225
228
322
research
226
323^
329^
research
Senior REU 324
328^
433*
cognate sci
485/494
special topics
research 
325^
423
431*
486/495
special topics
research
421
432*
487/496
special topics
research

 

  • Option 2:  225/228 in Summer (allows more advanced classes) 
Year Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Sophomore   123
224
Math 126
294
334
Math 307^ or 308^
227
335*
Math 324^
Junior 225
228
321
324
cognate subj
322
325^
research
cognate subj
226
323^ a/o 329^
research
Senior REU 328^
422
433*
485/494
special topics
research 
423
431*
429
486/495
special topics
research
421
432*
487/496
special topics
research

 

3 Year Path, Comprehensive. Not heading for grad school

  • Minimal Major; No Summers 
Year   Autumn Winter Spring
1   121 or 121H
Math 124
122 or 122H
Math 125
123 or 123H
Math 126
2   224
227
Math from menu
225
228
294
334* (lab)
Math from menu
226
335* (lab)
329^
3   321
324
328^
331* or 434* 
322
325^
cognate subj.
research/486
323^
cognate subj
research/487

3 Year Path, Not heading for grad school

  • Minimal Major; Including Summers to spread things out
Year   Autumn Winter Spring
1   121
Math 124
122
Math 125
123
Math 126
2 334*  224
227
Math from menu
225
228
294
Math from menu
321
335* (lab)
3 322
324 
328^
226
331* or 434* 
325^
431*
research/486
323^ or 329^
cognate subj
research/487

Arrive from Community College needing 122 or 123, Graduate in 2 years

Not recommended if heading for graduate school in physics. Not recommended if still need multiple distribution requirements.
  • Arrive in autumn, needing Phys 123
Year Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Junior   123
224
Math 126
294
334*
Math 307/8 
227
335*
Math 324
cognate sci
Senior 225
228
321
324
331* or 434*
cognate sci
322
325^ a/o 423
431*
research
226
323^
329^
research
  • Arrive in Autumn, Needing Physics 122
Year Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Junior   122
217
Math 126
123
294
Math 307/8 
224
227
Math 324
Senior 225
228
431*
321
324
331* a/o 328^ 
cognate sci
322
325^ a/o 423
334*
cognate sci
research/486
226
323^ a/o 329^
432* or 335*
research/487

Useful Downloads

Cognate Subjects List (PDF)

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