You are here

Continuation in the Major

In addition to the University policies regarding academic satisfactory progress, the Department of Physics has adopted the following additional requirements for continuation in the major. These are intended to provide reasonable assurance of academic success of our students while also making good use of departmental resources. Students are encouraged to periodically review their academic progress, and may seek advice from Physics Student Services at any time.

Criteria for Satisfactory Progress & Continuation in the Major:

  • All students newly admitted to the major must file a graduation plan approved by Physics Student Services by the end of the quarter in which they become a Physics major. Failure to do so will result in a registration hold until their graduation plan is approved by Physics Student Services.
  • Students must take physics courses, courses from the menu of cognate math classes, or electives in other departments that meet a requirement for the physics major, such that they are able to graduate with a physics degree within the limits set by the University's satisfactory progress policy. Specifically, students should take one or more courses in each quarter for which they are registered that meet a requirement for the physics major, with allowable exceptions for students completing double majors and students who have nearly completed all requirements of the physics major.
  • Students in all tracks of the Physics B.S. program are required to maintain a cumulative average GPA of at least 2.0 in all physics classes. This average includes the grades from all enrollments in any repeated course.
  • Students must earn a numerical grade of at least a 2.0 in each course used to satisfy the requirements of the physics major. Courses used to satisfy requirements of the major must be taken on a graded basis, except if the course is only offered CR/NC. Courses taken as satisfactory/non-satisfactory (S/NS) cannot be used towards major requirements and thus violate this policy except during quarters which have been declared to be Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters, during which S grades may be used to satisfy graduation requirements.
  • Excessive course repeats, course drops, and/or University withdrawals may constitute a lack of satisfactory progress.

Review and Notification of Progress:

Every quarter, Physics Student Services reviews the progress of all majors. If a student's performance fails to meet the above satisfactory progress standards in any quarter during their tenure as a Physics major, the student is first placed on Warning status. This changes to Probation, and lastly on Dismissal status, in each subsequent quarter in which satisfactory progress standards are not met, unless the non-satisfactory status is removed through the procedures described below.

Students who are not already in Warning or Probation status will be sent an email warning following a quarter in which departmental satisfactory progress criteria are not met, and will have a registration hold placed on their student account. The warning letter will indicate which criteria are unmet; to have the registration hold removed students receiving a warning must acknowledge receipt of the warning letter. Any student who believes that they have received a warning letter issued in error should contact Physics Student Services and explain the issue. Students receiving a warning letter are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor in Physics Student Services. The advisor will assist by recommending campus resources, help plan a course load that is manageable, and endeavor to assist with choosing the most appropriate pathway within the major as well as discussing other majors at the University. Students are encouraged to discuss all circumstances leading to a lack of satisfactory progress, including extenuating circumstances and situations outside of academic life that may impact their studies. Warning status will be removed if a student makes satisfactory progress toward the degree in each of the next two quarters in which they are enrolled following the warning letter. Warning status will also be removed if the warning was issued in error.
A student on Warning status who has an additional quarter in which they do not make satisfactory progress will be placed on Probation, and will have a registration hold put on their student account. Students will be issued a probation letter via email, explaining the reason for the probation. To have the registration hold removed, a student must meet with an advisor in Physics Student Services, and can expect the same support as just outlined under "Warning". Students who fail to meet with an advisor will not be able to register for future quarters. Students placed on Probation are also strongly encouraged to meet with an Undergraduate Academic Affairs advisor to formulate a backup plan in case they are dismissed from the Physics major. Students must meet with a Physics Student Services Advisor at least once each quarter while they are on Probation. A student will be returned to Warning status following two consecutive quarters in which they do make satisfactory progress toward the degree.
Dismissal from Major
Students on Probation status who fail to meet satisfactory progress criteria in a subsequent quarter will be placed on Dismissal status from the major. Students will be notified via email and given instructions on how they can appeal dismissal from the major. Such an appeal must include a detailed and realistic plan of courses leading to graduation, and must be submitted to Physics Student Services prior to the appeal deadline clearly stated in the letter. Students have only one opportunity to appeal dismissal from the major. If the student does not appeal, or if the appeal is not approved, the student will be assigned a premajor or extended premajor degree code, indicating dismissal from the Physics major. Such dismissed students may be dropped from physics courses which are only open to declared majors. If the appeal is approved, the student must make satisfactory progress as outlined in the agreed-upon plan, and spelled out in the approval notification. If they fail to make satisfactory progress in a quarter following their appeal, they will be dismissed from the major. This final dismissal cannot be appealed.
Hardship Withdrawal
Other than the reset options described above, involving two consecutive quarters of satisfactory progress after a Warning or Probation notice, the above three stages of unsatisfactory progress can only be removed with a Hardship Withdrawal (or Former Quarter Drop) from the problematic course(s) in question, or if the grades for the problematic course(s) change to a 2.0 or above. Students who are seeking Hardship Withdrawals should be in contact with an advisor. It is the student's responsibility to let Physics Student Services know if their Hardship Withdrawal has been approved.

Academic Honesty

Student conduct at the University of Washington is governed by the Student Conduct Code. Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct. For further information, refer to this page. The UW Physics Department expects every student to uphold academic honesty and refrain from any cheating on tests or plagiarism on assignments. Cheating/plagiarism is generally defined as taking credit for someone else's work, whether the source is a fellow student, book, or online resource. Cheating/plagiarism on assignments and tests hurts both the student committing the infraction and their fellow physics majors. Cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic misconduct, especially repeated offenses, may have severe consequences. Imposition of disciplinary sanctions by the Student Conduct Office will be considered equivalent to a student not making satisfactory progress during that quarter. To avoid any instance of apparent or inadvertent academic dishonesty, students are strongly urged to:

  • Sit as far as possible from other students during tests. Do not sit near your regular study partners, so any unusually similar methods you may have learned together won't suggest copying occurred;
  • Pay close attention to the rules regarding academic honesty for the particular course and instructor, as they may vary;
  • Keep phones and other electronics devices off and put away. If a test is closed book (& notes), keep all papers and other materials put away and out of sight.