BS in Physics

Degree Requirements

To earn a Bachelor of Science in Physics degree from UIC, students must complete university, college, and department degree requirements. The Department of Physics degree requirements are outlined below. Students should consult the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section for additional degree requirements and college academic policies.

Summary of Requirements
Requirements for the Curriculum120
Total Hours120

Requirements for the Curriculum

The requirements for the curriculum include the courses necessary to complete the General Education and Writing-in-the-Discipline requirements described in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section.

Required Courses
ENGL 160Academic Writing I: Writing in Academic and Public Contexts a3
ENGL 161Academic Writing II: Writing for Inquiry and Research a3
Foreign Language (the equivalent of two years of a single language at the college level)0-16
Exploring World Cultures course b3
Understanding the Creative Arts course b3
Understanding the Individual and Society course b3
Understanding the Past course b3
Understanding U.S. Society course b3
MATH 180Calculus I c,d4
MATH 181Calculus II d4
MATH 210Calculus III d3
MATH 220Introduction to Differential Equations3
CHEM 122General Chemistry I Lecture e4
CHEM 123General Chemistry Laboratory I d,e1
CHEM 124General Chemistry II Lecture e4
CHEM 125General Chemistry Laboratory II d,e1
PHYS 141General Physics I (Mechanics) d4
PHYS 142General Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism) d4
PHYS 215Computational and Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences4
PHYS 230Fundamentals of Relativity3
PHYS 240Fundamentals of Modern Quantum Theory3
PHYS 241Experiments in Modern Physics1
PHYS 245Introduction to Vibrations, Waves, and Thermal Physics4
PHYS 401Electromagnetism I4
PHYS 411Quantum Mechanics I4
PHYS 441Theoretical Mechanics4
PHYS 461Thermal and Statistical Physics4
PHYS 425Modern Optics4
or PHYS 482 Modern Experimental Physics II
PHYS 402Electromagnetism II f4
or PHYS 412 Quantum Mechanics II
PHYS 481Modern Experimental Physics I g,i4
PHYS 499Survey of Physics Problems h,i1
Electives7-23
Total Hours120
a

ENGL 160 and ENGL 161 fulfill the University Writing Requirement.

b

Students should consult the General Education section of the catalog for a list of approved courses in this category. 

c

MATH 180 fulfills the LAS Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

d

This course is approved for the Analyzing the Natural World General Education category.

e

General Education credit is given for successful completion of both CHEM 122 and CHEM 123 or CHEM 124 and CHEM 125

f

Students planning to pursue graduate studies in physics are strongly encouraged to take both of these courses. 

g

PHYS 481 fulfills the LAS Writing-in-the-Discipline requirement.

h

A grade of C or better is required in PHYS 499.

i

Concurrent registration in PHYS 481 and PHYS 499 is required.

Recommended Plan of Study

Physics is a discipline that carefully builds additional knowledge on a foundation of previously learned science and mathematics. To complete the physics curriculum in four years, therefore, requires careful planning, especially because the upper-division courses are offered at most once per year and have prerequisites. A recommended typical course sequence for the BS degree is given below.

Note: Students should consult the General Education section of the catalog for a list of approved courses in each category.

Plan of Study Grid
Freshman Year
Fall SemesterHours
ENGL 160 Academic Writing I: Writing in Academic and Public Contexts 3
MATH 180 Calculus I 4
PHYS 141 General Physics I (Mechanics) 4
Foreign Language 4
 Hours15
Spring Semester
ENGL 161 Academic Writing II: Writing for Inquiry and Research 3
MATH 181 Calculus II 4
PHYS 142 General Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism) 4
Foreign Language 4
 Hours15
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
MATH 210 Calculus III 3
PHYS 215 Computational and Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences 4
PHYS 230 Fundamentals of Relativity 3
Foreign Language 4
 Hours14
Spring Semester
MATH 220 Introduction to Differential Equations 3
PHYS 240 Fundamentals of Modern Quantum Theory 3
PHYS 241 Experiments in Modern Physics 1
PHYS 245 Introduction to Vibrations, Waves, and Thermal Physics 4
Foreign Language 4
 Hours15
Junior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 411 Quantum Mechanics I 4
Select one of the following: 4-5
Thermal and Statistical Physics  
Modern Experimental Physics I
and Survey of Physics Problems
 
CHEM 122
CHEM 123
General Chemistry I Lecture
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
5
General Education Core course 3
 Hours16-17
Spring Semester
PHYS 412 Quantum Mechanics II (or Elective) a 4
PHYS 441 Theoretical Mechanics 4
CHEM 124
CHEM 125
General Chemistry II Lecture
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
5
General Education Core course 3
 Hours16
Senior Year
Fall Semester
PHYS 401 Electromagnetism I 4
Select one of the following: 4-5
Thermal and Statistical Physics  
Modern Experimental Physics I
and Survey of Physics Problems
 
General Education Core course 3
General Education Core course 3
 Hours14-15
Spring Semester
PHYS 402 Electromagnetism II (or Elective) a 4
PHYS 425
Modern Optics
or Modern Experimental Physics II
4
General Education Core course 3
Elective 3
 Hours14
 Total Hours120
a

The BS degree requires PHYS 402 or PHYS 412, but both are recommended for students who plan to go to graduate school in physics.

Students who are not prepared to begin MATH 180 in their first semester may need to attend summer school or possibly take more than four years to finish their BS degree.

In addition to the degree programs shown above, there is an Engineering Physics program available through the College of Engineering.