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  • Physics
    Fax: 202-885-2723
    Sports Center Annex, Room 108

    Hewlett, Derek J
    Senior Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

BS in Physics

Admission to the Program

Formal admission to the major requires a grade point average of 2.00 (on a 4.00 scale) and departmental approval.  

University Requirements

  • A total of 120 credit hours 
  • 6 credit hours of college writing 
  • 3 credit hours of college mathematics or the equivalent by examination   

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of two courses from each of
    the five foundational areas
  • At least one course from Area Five: The Natural and
    Mathematical Sciences must include a laboratory science
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same


Chemical Physics, Computational Physics, or Traditional Physics 

Major Requirements

  • 63 credit hours with grades of C or better 

Course Requirements

Core (51 credit hours)

  • CSC-280 Introduction to Computer Science I (4) 
  • MATH-221 Calculus I (4) 
  • MATH-222 Calculus II (4)
  • MATH-310 Linear Algebra (3)
  • MATH-313 Calculus III (4) 
  • MATH-321 Differential Equations (3) 
  • PHYS-110 Principles of Physics I (4) 
  • PHYS-210 Principles of Physics II (4) (PHYS-110 and PHYS-210 may be waived for students with exceptional high school preparation) 
  • PHYS-331 Modern Physics (3)
  • PHYS-351 Waves and Optics (3) 
  • PHYS-430 Classical Mechanics (3) 
  • PHYS-440 Experimental Physics (3) 
  • PHYS-450 Electricity and Magnetism (3) 
  • PHYS-470 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (3)
  • PHYS-480 Physics Capstone Seminar (3)

Tracks (12 credit Hours)

Chemical Physics

  • Prerequisite: CHEM-210 General Chemistry II (4) 
  • 12 credit hours from the following: 
  • CHEM-310 Organic Chemistry I (3) 
  • CHEM-312 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (1) 
  • CHEM-320 Organic Chemistry II (3) 
  • CHEM-322 Organic Chemistry II Laboratory (1) 
  • CHEM-410 Biophysical Chemistry (3) 
  • CHEM-460 Instrumental Analysis (3) 
  • PHYS-460 Statistical Mechanics (3) 

Computational Physics

  • 12 credit hours from the following: 
  • CSC-281 Introduction to Computer Science II (3) 
  • CSC-330 Organization of Computer Systems (4) 
  • CSC-432 Introduction to Simulation and Modeling (3) 
  • CSC-520 Algorithms and Data Structures (3) 
  • CSC-543 Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (3)
  • PHYS-380 Mathematical and Computational Physics (3)

Traditional Physics

  • 12 credit hours from the following:
  • MATH-550 Complex Analysis (3) 
  • MATH-551 Partial Differential Equations (3) 
  • PHYS-300 Acoustics (3) 
  • PHYS-310 Electronics (4)
  • PHYS-360 Astrophysics (3)
  • PHYS-380 Mathematical and Computational Physics (3)
  • PHYS-460 Statistical Mechanics (3)

University Honors Program

To graduate with University Honors in the major through the University Honors Program, students must meet the requirements detailed on the Honors website and have been enrolled as either a first-year student between Fall 1989 and Spring 2014, or as a transfer or self-nominated student through Spring 2015. The University Honors Program should not be confused with the AU Honors Program, which begins in Fall 2014 and has separate requirements, also detailed on the Honors website. For more information, please se the University Honors Program.

Combined Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs. Undergraduate students may complete up to 3 credits for every 9 credits required for the graduate degree that may be applied to the requirements for both degree programs.  The department that oversees the graduate program the student enters will determine if the courses the undergraduate student completes will satisfy master’s degree requirements. 

Bachelor’s/master’s students must complete at least 18 in-residence credit hours at the graduate level after the bachelor’s degree is earned and  maintain continuous, sequential enrollment in the two programs. Students must finish the master’s degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master’s program.