Undergraduate Physics Curriculum

8/24/2023 - This page is being redesigned to reflect the new concentrations. Talk to your faculty advisors in the meantime

The information on this page applies to students who are subject to the current academic year undergraduate bulletin.

Students who entered UAlbany earlier should look at the bulletin for that year - click on the link above, and on this new page, you will see at the bottom of the left panel "Previous Bulletins" - click on it and choose the year that applies to you. If you are not sure which year applies to you, please look at your DARS audit and at the very top you will see a field "BULLETIN YR:"

The suggested sequence of courses shown in the table (below) is optimized for those who enter UAlbany as a first year student, i.e., they take all their courses here. If you are transferring from elsewhere, or changing majors within UAlbany, or coming for a second Bachelor degree, etc., then we will tailor the curriculum to your individual case, taking into account courses that you may have already taken; we are quite flexible in this regard. It would be best to discuss this with your faculty advisor within the Physics department (all majors are assigned one - talk to the staff in the Physics Office if you don't have one).

Degree Requirements for the Major in Physics

General Program B.S.: The following 69-76 credits are required: (substitutions may be possible):

  1. Introductory physics sequence: APHY 140 or TPHY 141 or APHY 142; APHY 150 or TPHY 151 or APHY 152; and APHY 240.
  2. Lab sequence for introductory courses: A PHY 145 or 106, 155 or 109, and 245.
  3. Computer Science: A PHY 277 or I CSI 201/CEN 201.
  4. Higher level physics courses: A PHY 235 or A MAT 314 and 315, 250, 320, 335Z, 340, 350, 440, 450, and 460.
  5. Chemistry: ACHM 115 and 116 (lecture and labs combined) OR  (TCHM 130 & ACHM 124 and TCHM 131 & ACHM 125)
  6. Calculus sequence: AMAT 112 and 113 (or the honors courses 118 and 119, or AMAT 101 and 111 and 113) and AMAT 214.
  7. Mathematics elective: AMAT 220, 314, 367, or 412.
  8. Physics Elective - An additional physics course numbered 300 or higher and appended with a Y suffix, e.g. 415Y, 426Y, 430Y, etc.

See the University bulletin for more information.

Course Progression Restrictions - Students must complete A PHY 235 with a C or better to register for A PHY 320, 335Z, 340, 350, 440, 450, and 460. Students must complete A PHY 240 with a C or better to register for A PHY 320, 340, and 440. Students must complete A PHY 250 with a C or better to register for A PHY 335Z, 350, 450, and 460.


Suggested Sequence for Physics Majors (Courses In Boldface Are Required).

Course Number Description Credits Course Number Description Credits
Semester 1 (Fall) Semester 2 (Spring)
Phy 140/142 or Phy 141 Intro Mechanics 3 Phy 150/152 or Phy 151 Intro E.M. 3
Phy 145 or 106 Lab 1 Phy 155 or 109 Lab 1
Mat 112 or Mat 118 Calculus 4 Mat 113 or Mat 119 Calculus II 4
Chm 120 or Chm 130 General Chemistry I 3 Chm 121 or Chm 131 General Chemistry II 3
Chm 124 Lab 1 Chm 125 Lab 1
Gen Ed 3-6 Gen Ed 3-6
Semester 3 (Fall) Semester 4 (Spring)
Phy 240 or Phy 241 Modern Physics 3 Phy 250 Waves 3
Phy 235 Intro Math Methods In Physics 3 Phy 245 Lab 1
Mat 214 Calculus III 4 Mat 220 or Math
Linear Algebra 3
Computer Science 4 Computer Science 4
Gen Ed or Elective 3-6 Gen Ed or Elective 3
Semester 5 (Fall) Semester 6 (Spring)
Phy 320 Mechanics 3 Phy 460 Thermo And Statistical Physics 3
Phy 440 Quantum Mechanics I 3 Phy 450 Quantum II 3
Mat 314, Etc Math Elective 3 Phy 335Z Advanced Lab 3
Physics Elective 3 Physics Elective 3
Research (Phy 497) or Elective 3 Research or Gen Ed or Elective 3
Semester 7 (Fall) Semester 8 (Spring)
Phy 340 E&M I 3 Phy 350 E&M II 3
Phy 497 Research Project 3-6 Phy 497 Research Project 3-6
Physics Elective 3 Physics Elective 3
Physics, Math or Other Elective 3 Physics, Math or Other Elective 3
Gen Ed or Elective 3 Gen Ed or Elective 3

Honors Program

The honors program in physics is designed for outstanding students enrolled in the general program. 

Students may apply for admission to the honors program by submitting a letter of request to the department chair no later than April 15 of the sophomore year (for admission in the fall) or November 15 of the junior year (for admission in the spring). Junior transfers may apply at the time of their admission to the University. Primary emphasis will be placed on indications of academic ability and maturity sufficient for applicants to pursue with distinction a program involving independent research. 

The minimum requirements for admission follow:

  • Completion of APHY 140 or APHY 142 or TPHY 141, APHY 150 or APHY 152 or TPHY 151, APHY 240 or 241, 250 or their equivalents;
  • An overall grade point average of 3.30;
  • A grade point average of 3.60 in physics courses required for the major;
  • Written recommendations from at least three faculty members, one of whom, preferably, should be from outside the Department of Physics.
  • Students in the program must maintain both a minimum grade point average of 3.30 overall and of 3.60 in physics courses taken to satisfy major requirements during the junior and senior years. The progress of participants in the honors program will be reviewed at the end of the junior year by the Departmental Honors Committee. Students not meeting the standards above at that time may be precluded from continuing in the program during their senior year. 
  • Students in the honors program are required to complete a minimum of 75-82 credits as follows: the 69-76 credits specified for the general program in physics; 3 credits of Honors Seminar in Physics (A Phy 498); and 3 credits of Research and/or Independent Study in Physics (A Phy 497). The independent study must include an honors research project culminating in a written report by the end of the student's last semester. After completion of the requirements above, the records of candidates will be reviewed by the Departmental Honors Committee. 

After consideration of overall academic record, performance and accomplishments in the independent study project(s), the quality of the Honors Seminar, and the evaluations of departmental faculty members who have supervised these activities, a recommendation for or against a degree with honors will be made by the committee to the departmental faculty. The final recommendation will be made by the departmental faculty and transmitted by the chair.


Combined B.S./M.S. Program

The combined B.S./M.S. program in physics provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master's degree programs at the beginning of the junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.S. and M.S. degrees within nine semesters. 

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.S., students must meet all University and college requirements including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minimum 60-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.S. and M.S. programs. 

Students are considered as undergraduates until completion of 120 graduation credits and satisfactory completion of all B.S. requirements. Upon meeting B.S. requirements, students are automatically considered as graduate students. 

Students may apply to the Graduate Committee for admission to the combined degree program in physics at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits, but no later than the accumulation of 100 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required for consideration.


Combined BS(Physics)/MS (Secondary Education)

If you are interested in teaching Physics in Middle and High Schools, a new program has been developed. It is a combined BS (Physics)/MS (Secondary Education) degree. For details, please send email to Prof. Vivek Jain, and also look at https://www.albany.edu/graduatebulletin/combined_msse.php


Minor in Physics

A minimum of 18 graduation credits as follows: APHY 140 or 141, 150 or 151, 240 or 241, and 250; and at least two courses with an APHY prefix at the 300-level or above.


Minor in Electronics

A minimum of 20 graduation credits as follows: A PHY 140 or 141, 145, 150 or 151, 155, 240 or 241, 415, 416, and 353.