Physics @ Berkeley
The Major and Minor Program Print E-mail

The Major Program | The Minor Program 

The Major Program  

The undergraduate major program in physics is under the jurisdiction of the College of Letters and Science (L&S) and is subject to the rules and regulations of the College in addition to the University. Each academic year L&S publishes an announcement covering topics from A.B. requirements, grading regulations to withdrawing (and applying for readmission). The ultimate responsibility of completing requirements to graduating within the parameters set by the University, College and Department rests with the student. Consult the Undergraduate Assistant or an L&S advisor (113 Campbell) for any clarification.

The program is designed to give students a solid foundation in physics to prepare them for work in the field or a physics graduate program. Prerequisites: Students may declare a physics major after completing Physics 7A -7C (or H7A-H7C), Math 1A-1B and Math 53-54 (or their equivalent).

Note: Students may declare the physics major when all of the prerequisites for the major have been completed with a minimum 2.0 grade point average in the prerequisites and a minimum 2.0 grade point average in all University courses.

Pre-Major Advising
Pre-major advising is available in 368 LeConte for all students who would like some academic counseling prior to declaring a major in physics. Although students cannot declare until the lower division prerequisites (Math 1A-B, 53 & 54 and Physics 7A-C or their equivalent) are finished, any student interested in the Physics major should come in for pre-major advising as soon as possible.

Declaring the Major
Students may declare a physics major when all of the prerequisites for the major have been completed. The prerequisites are as follows: minimum of 30 semester units which must include Physics 7ABC; Math 1A, 1B, 53 and 54 or their equivalent with a 2.0 grade point average in the prerequisites and a 2.0 grade point average in all University courses.

The Department will consider applications to declare a physics major throughout the academic year. Students declaring (continuing and transfering) must furnish a copy of their grade record or past transcripts which include the prerequisite courses or their equivalents. Students must have their records reviewed and have a departmental file prepared by the Undergraduate Advisor in 368 LeConte Hall prior to seeing a faculty major advisor for departmental approval of the petition to declare a physics major. Students should be prepared to discuss a tentative schedule of their upper division courses.

Warning: L&S students with 80 or more semester units must declare a major or run the risk of having their registration for the following semester blocked by the College.

Requirements for the Physics Major

Lower Division
Physics 7A-7C and H7A-H7C are designed to give a potential physics major a solid foundation in physics for upper division coursework. Students may declare a physics major after completing Physics 7A-7C (or H7A-H7C), Math 1A-1B, Math 53 and Math 54 (or their equivalent) with a grade of "C" or better (minimum 2.0 GPA requirement).

Completing Advanced Placement courses or exams in physics is not considered sufficient preparation for upper division work in physics; therefore, it is the general policy of the Department not to waive the Physics 7A-7C prerequisite except under unusual circumstances. Physics H7A-H7C (honors Physics 7A-7C) sequence is recommended for students who feel that the Physics 7 series is not academically challenging enough.

Lower Division Honors Physics Sequence
Physics H7A-H7C corresponds to Physics 7A-7C but with greater emphasis on theory as opposed to problem solving. Expect to be challenged and stimulated by interaction with the curriculum and with your classmates in a small classroom setting. We recommend the honors sequence to potential physics majors, who have the appropriate background - high school physics or an equivalent, Math 1A and concurrent enrollment in Math 1B are the minimum requirements, as it enables students who are interested in physics to work together during their freshman and sophomore years. Physics H7A-H7C need not be taken to qualify for the honors program.

Upper Division
Physics students may take the upper division physics courses in a variety of sequences. Analytic Mechanics (105) and Quantum Mechanics (137A-137B) are most often taken during the junior year while Electromagnetism and Optics (110A-110B) is taken during the senior year. The Modern Physics and Advanced Electrical Laboratory (111) is a variable unit course, six units of which are required for the major. Statistical and Thermal Physics (112) and a Physics elective may be taken whenever you choose.

The following list is one possible four year sequence of required courses in the physics major; keep in mind that all University and L&S requirements must also fit within this program. We strongly suggest that most, if not all University and L&S requirements be completed prior to declaring. Consult the L&S Announcement for more details regarding the University and L&S requirements.

First Semester

Second Semester


Math 1A

Math 1B



Physics 7A


Math 53

Math 54


Physics 7B

Physics 7C

Junior Physics

110A or 112

111 (3 units)*




Senior Physics

110A or 112



111 (3 units)

Physics elective

* The first time you take Physics 111 you must enroll in the BSC portion (Section 1) for 3.0 units.

The physics major is a challenging program. It is important for students to request assistance and discuss major plans with an advisor. Assistance and resources are available!



The Minor Program 

The Department also offers a minor program in physics. Students may petition for the minor in physics only after they have completed all required courses for the minor program. Please read the section, on the Minor for more information.

Petitioning for the Minor
Students may petition for the minor in physics only after they have completed all required courses for the minor in physics. Graduating seniors must petition no later than two weeks after the end of the term. To petition students must furnish transcripts (official or unofficial) to the Department's Undergraduate Advisor (in 368 LeConte Hall) to show work completed and grade point average in physics and math.

The Minor Requirements
The physics minor program conforms to the College of Letters and Science specifications and consists of the following coursework:

Physics 7A, 7B and 7C (or their equivalent)
Math 1A, 1B, 53 and 54 (or their equivalent)
Each course in the physics series must be passed with a letter grade of "C " or better. The student must achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the seven courses

Minor Requirements:
Physics 137A
Physics 110A or Physics 105
Three additional upper division courses (to total at least 9 units for an upper division physics unit total of at least 17 units).

All upper division physics courses must be taken for a letter grade (thus Physics H190, 198 and 199 will not count toward the minor program). A minimum of three upper division courses must be completed at Berkeley. An overall minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in upper division courses applied to the minor program.