Physics Major

Program Director: Carter Hall, Ph.D.

Physics is an exciting and rewarding field of study. Physicists make important discoveries that often change the way we live by examining the way things work, and there are still many discoveries to be made.

At Maryland, physics majors benefit from small class-sizes, outstanding teachers and very talented classmates. However, we believe that the most important physics education occurs outside the classroom, and we encourage all of our majors to participate in cutting-edge research with our internationally recognized faculty. Through participation in research projects, our students learn what it takes to conduct world-class scientific research. Whether students decide to continue to study physics in graduate school or work in fields such as engineering, software development, law, business or education, a bachelor's degree in physics from Maryland provides an excellent foundation.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to fully engage with the curriculum and the opportunities presented for learning and research. Having completed the degree program, students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  1. A thorough knowledge of the core areas of physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal physics, and quantum mechanics at a level compatible with admission to graduate programs in physics at peer institutions.
  2. The ability to analyze and interpret quantitative results, both in the core areas of physics and in complex problems that cross multiple core areas.
  3. An ability to assess and solve unfamiliar problems in physics using the knowledge and skills acquired.
  4. The ability to use contemporary experimental apparatus common to the study of physical phenomena, and have the ability to acquire, analyze and interpret scientific data.
  5. The ability to communicate scientific results effectively, both verbally and in writing.
Course Title Credits
Courses Required for All Specializations
PHYS170Professional Physics Seminar1
PHYS171Introductory Physics: Mechanics3
PHYS265Introduction to Scientific Programming 13
PHYS272Introductory Physics: Fields3
PHYS273Introductory Physics: Oscillations and Waves3
PHYS275Experimental Physics I: Mechanics and Waves2
PHYS276Experimental Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism2
MATH140Calculus I4
MATH141Calculus II4
MATH241Calculus III4
MATH243Introduction to Linear Algebra and Differential Equations4
or MATH240
Introduction to Linear Algebra
and Differential Equations for Scientists and Engineers
Total Credits33

Additional Courses for Specializations

Complete one of the following specializations: Physics, Education Physics, Biophysics, or Applied Physics.

Additional Courses Required for The Physics Major:

Course Title Credits
PHYS313Electricity and Magnetism I4
PHYS371Modern Physics3
PHYS375Experimental Physics III: Electromagnetic Waves, Optics and Modern Physics3
PHYS401Quantum Physics I4
PHYS402Quantum Physics II3
PHYS404Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics3
PHYS405Advanced Experiments 23
PHYS410Classical Mechanics3
PHYS413Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHYS4XXAdvanced Physics Elective 33
PHYS4XYAdvanced Physics Elective 33
Total Credits35

Additional Courses Required for the Education Physics Specialization:

Course Title Credits
Introductory Education Courses
TLPL101Inquiry Approach to Teaching STEM (Step 1)1
TLPL102Inquiry Teaching of STEM in Middle School2
Upper-level and Supporting Courses
TLPL401Student-Centered Curriculum and Instruction3
TLPL414Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science3
TLPL415Perspectives in Science3
EDHD426Cognitive and Motivational Literacy Content3
PHYS313Electricity and Magnetism I4
PHYS371Modern Physics3
PHYS375Experimental Physics III: Electromagnetic Waves, Optics and Modern Physics3
One of the following:3-4
Quantum Physics I
Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics
Classical Mechanics
Electricity and Magnetism II
PHYS4XY (Advanced Physics Elective)3-4
Total Credits31-33

The Education Physics area of concentration is designed to accommodate students obtaining a teaching certificate through the College of Education. However, completing all the courses in the Education Physics area of concentration does not in itself satisfy all requirements for obtaining a teaching certificate. Students pursuing the Education Physics area of concentration who want to also obtain a teaching certificate in secondary education must first apply and be admitted to the Secondary Education Program in the College of Education and then complete additional courses in that program.

Additional Courses Required for the Biophysics Specialization:

Course Title Credits
BSCI170Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology3
BSCI171Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory1
CHEM131Chemistry I - Fundamentals of General Chemistry3
CHEM132General Chemistry I Laboratory1
CHEM231Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM232Organic Chemistry Laboratory I1
CHEM241Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM242Organic Chemistry Laboratory II1
CHEM271General Chemistry and Energetics2
CHEM272General Bioanalytical Chemistry Laboratory2
BSCI330Cell Biology and Physiology4
BCHM461Biochemistry I3
PHYS313Electricity and Magnetism I (Electricity and Magnetism I)3
PHYS371Modern Physics3
PHYS404Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics3
PHYS483 (Biophysics)3
One of the following:3
Experimental Physics III: Electromagnetic Waves, Optics and Modern Physics
BSCI4XY - Any Approved 400-level BSCI Elective
Note: Students interested in medical school should consult a pre-med advisor ( for additional course recommendations.
Total Credits45

Additional Courses Required for the Applied Physics Specialization:

Course Title Credits
ENME272Introduction to Computer Aided Design2
PHYS313Electricity and Magnetism I4
PHYS371Modern Physics3
PHYS375Experimental Physics III: Electromagnetic Waves, Optics and Modern Physics3
PHYS401Quantum Physics I4
PHYS404Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics3
PHYS413Electricity and Magnetism II (Electricity & Magnetism II)3
PHYS474Computational Physics3
PHYS456Making Physics Experiments3
One of the following: 3
Electronic Circuits
(Computerized Instrumentation)
PHYS4XY - Any Approved 400-level PHYS Elective
Total Credits31

Students with prior programming experience may take PHYS474, an upper-level, computational physics course, instead of PHYS265. This advanced course may be used for an Advanced Physics Elective as well. 


PHYS405 in The Physics Major may be replaced by the two course sequence: PHYS406 , PHYS407.


Students completing a second major from a CMNS or Engineering department may use an upper-level course from that program in place of one of the Advanced Physics Electives.

Other Requirements for the Major

Students must complete all courses required for the major with a grade of "C-" or higher.

Click here for roadmaps for graduation plans in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

Additional information on developing a graduation plan can be found on the following pages: