Welcome to Physics at Berkeley!
As an incoming transfer student there are many things to consider and we are here to help. As you think about declaring a major in Physics, we have put together the following information to get you started. As your undergraduate major advisors, we are available to connect with you by email or appointment. Please see the information below, and contact us with any additional questions or concerns you have. We look forward to working with you!
Kathleen Cooney, Physics
Anna Hilke, Physics
The Physics Major
The program is designed to give students a solid foundation in physics and to prepare them for work in the field, an adjacent field (such as engineering, finance, data science, or teaching) or a physics graduate program. There are many resources within the department to help as you decide what you will pursue after graduation. We offer workshops for career exploration and help with resume-building and networking. We also host discussion panels with graduate students and study sessions to help students prepare for the Physics GRE. Don't worry if you've not yet decided what avenue you'll pursue post-baccalaureate. Often the experiences you have here at Berkeley will help guide you towards your future endeavors.
Prerequisite Courses for the Major in Physics
- Math 1A, Math 1B, Math 53, Math 54*, Physics 7A, Physics 7B and Physics 7C or their equivalents
- For information on California community college equivalent courses, please visit Assist.org**
* Students who do not complete a Math 54 equivalent before transferring are required to complete Phys 89:"Introduction to Mathematical Physics" at Berkeley.
**Please note: Community colleges may cover the topics in Berkeley's Physics 7ABC series in a different order. Students who transfer before completing courses equivalent to the entire 7ABC series may need to enroll in Berkeley's Physics 49 to complete missing topics such as wave motion (7A) or heat (7B). Additionally, students who complete the Physics 7ABC-equivalent courses at multiple institutions may also need to enroll in Physics 49 to complete missed topics. If you did not complete all of your prerequisite Physics major courses at a California Community College, please contact your Physics Academic Advisor via email to discuss next steps.
Steps to Declaring the Major for Transfers Students
Once you enter UC Berkeley, you will need to formally declare your major. Please see the steps for declaring your major below:
Make sure you’ve completed the prerequisite classes shown above.
Complete the Major Declaration Google Form. If your transfer courses have not yet been evaluated by L&S and shown on your CalCentral Transfer Credit Report, please make sure to include an unofficial transfer transcript when you submit this form.
We will get back to you within a couple of weeks with any questions or next steps.
Physics Courses Available to New Transfer Students in Berkeley's Summer Session
Physics 89 - Introduction to Mathematical Physics
Consider taking Physics 89 during the summer before you start at Berkeley or in your first full semester on campus if you feel you could use a refresher on these topics. This course will also expose you to topics that are often not covered at other institutions. Physics 89 is not required for incoming transfer students if you have already met the Math 54 equivalent before transferring. If you have this requirement met, but still want to take the course, you may take Phys 89 pass/no pass.
Physics 137A - Quantum Mechanics
Please note: you must have completed all the prerequisites to the major before enrolling in any upper division courses.
Recommended Major Classes for Your First Semester
We recommend taking between 13 - 15 units in the first semester We suggest two upper-division Physics requirements per semester (resulting in 7-8 units). The College of Letters & Science requires students to carry a minimum of 13 units per semester for full-time student status, so the remaining 5-6 units are achieved through classes outside of Physics, such as DeCals or research units. More challenging workloads can always be considered in future semesters. Click here for course descriptionsFor first-semester incoming transfer students, we recommend:
Physics 153* Transfer Course for Physical Science Majors (strongly recommended)
In addition to these courses, you can consider taking one or both of the following courses bolster your math and/or Python knowledge:
Physics 89 (may be taken P/NP)*
Physics 77 or Data 8 (courses in Python - recommended if you don't have programming experience)
We recommend taking Physics 198BC* - Berkeley Connect in your second semester on campus, if you are seeking additional mentorship and support following the Physics 153 course in the fall.
* These are 1-unit, pass/no pass courses
A Note About Undergraduate Research
We encourage all of our students to find a research position at some point during their undergraduate career. If graduate school is part of your plan, we encourage you to try to find a research position early on during your Berkeley experience. At the start of every semester, we have a research fair for Physics students. We encourage you to attend and to look for research experiences in your first semester.
If you are seeking a summer position, either before your first year, or following your first year on campus, here here are a few resources to use when looking for research:
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- UC Berkeley's TTE: Transfer to Excellence Summer Research Program
- US Dept of Energy's Community College Internship (CCI) Program
- Space Science Lab - ASSURE Program
Considering a Double Major
While it is possible for transfer students to double major, you will need to have all (or the vast majority) of your prerequisites for your second major completed before you arrive on campus. Students who declare a double major automatically get an additional semester to complete their coursework. However, given the rigors involved in completing a double major it is strongly recommended that you think critically about your course load and academic plan. Please reach out to your Physics undergraduate major advisor if you have questions or need advice.
Special Advice for Incoming Spring Students
Students admitted for the Spring semester can take courses in the fall preceding registration at Berkeley only as described in their "Conditions of Admission" (see your admissions letter). If applicable, Spring transfer students should finish all prerequisites, any remaining breadth requirements, and possibly AC course matches (see Assist.org).
The Berkeley Transfer Center, Re-entry Center & Student Parent Center are all additional resources available to you and we hope that you'll take advantage of their services. Adjusting to campus life can be daunting, both socially and academically, but the tools for success are readily available. Please use them and reach out to your advisor with any questions.
Transfer Student Center
Resources for Finding Research
Society of Physics Students
Society of Women in the Physical Sciences
Physics Berkeley Connect
UC Berkeley Hispanic Engineers and Scientists
Space Exploration Society at Berkeley
Physics Undergraduate Degree Program