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Declaring a Physics Major

Physics is a "capacity constrained" major, with a goal of graduating 150-175 majors each year. At the time of application to the major, students must have completed and passed:

Course equivalents for transfer, AP, IB, etc., must be indicated on your UW transcript. Students who have completed these prerequisites, and are currently enrolled in a at least one Physics lecture course numbered 220 or higher, may apply for admission to the major in Autumn or Spring quarter. There is an additional cycle in Winter for those who have completed both at least 105 credits and at least 5 academic quarters by the time of application (primarily transfer students).

Each application is evaluated holistically by the Undergraduate Admissions Committee.

To apply, you need to complete the online application form below and submit (as separate pdfs) your:

  • unofficial UW transcript,
  • graduation plan as entered into MyPlan,
  • You also will need to type in a personal statement (<3000 characters) within the application.

Pre-approval of your graduation plan is strongly recommended; admission may be provisional based on completion of a graduation plan approved by Physics Student Services by end of the quarter (New majors who do not yet have an approved graduation plan on file by the end of the quarter in which they are accepted will have a hold placed on their registration until their graduation plan is approved by Physics Student Services.) Although plans are always subject to modification, all applicants should have a well-considered plan for completing their degree. Some entries may be "elective", but all required courses for the selected degree option should be present in an appropriate quarter. A list of physics courses, the quarters in which they are offered, and their prerequisites may be found here for the upcoming year.  You should assume a similar schedule in future years as you build your plan."

Your personal statement should present your reasons for choosing a Physics major and describe strategies for success in the major, including a discussion of lessons learned from previous successes and difficulties (in or out of the classroom) and plans for accessing appropriate support. It should also address how the chosen degree option and submitted graduation plan are suited to your life and career goals. If any prerequisites are lacking, your personal statement must address why your application should not be postponed. We recognize that the circumstances surrounding the Covid pandemic of 2020-21 may have impacted your grades and that you may have elected to switch to S/NS grading for some of your courses. Please include a self assessment of your readiness for upper-division physics classes that have these courses as a prerequisite, and plans to address any deficiencies in your preparation.

Admission Cycles

Enrollment in
major begins
Autumn Winter 8am on September 1  5pm on 3rd Friday of autumn quarter
Spring Summer or Autumn  8am on April 1 5pm on 3rd Friday of spring quarter
Winter Spring 8am on January 1 5pm on 3rd Friday of winter quarter
Only for students who have completed both at least 105 credits and at least 5 academic quarters.


To submit your transcript and graduation plan, you will need to use the G-suite functions of your UWNetID. If you have not already activated UW G-suite, you may do so here. Contact Physics Student Services if you have difficulty accessing the application form.

Admission Decisions

Decisions are made within approximately one month of the application deadline, in time for registration the following quarter, and applicants are notified via UW email. If admitted, please follow the directions in the email acceptance message; if you do not accept the offer by the deadline stated in the message you will not be admitted to the major and will need to reapply if a Physics major is your intention.

Admitted applicants must be registered and enroll for the academic year quarter following the application decision; students who are not enrolled at that time will forfeit their admission to the major and will need to reapply in a future application cycle.

Any applicant receiving a negative admission decision and who believes that important facts were overlooked by the admissions committee, may appeal the decision by submitting a petition for reconsideration to Physics Student Services within two weeks of the date of the notification email. Only pertinent information that was not submitted with your original application will be considered in your appeal request. Students will be notified one week after the appeal deadline.

In accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations, the Department of Physics reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a protected veteran in The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process contact the department at 206-543-6830, or the Disability Services Office at 206.543.6450 (206.543.6452 TTY, 206.685.7264 FAX) or e-mail to, at least ten days in advance of the application deadline.

Last updated: 1/2022