B.A. Degree Requirements

As of Spring 2019

Physics Courses

  • PHYSICS 161D: Fundamentals of Physics I or equivalent*
  • PHYSICS 162D: Fundamentals of Physics II or equivalent*
  • PHYSICS 164L: Introductory Experimental Physics I
  • PHYSICS 165L: Introductory Experimental Physics II
  • PHYSICS 264L: Optics and Modern Physics
  • PHYSICS 363: Thermal Physics
  • Two courses out of the following:
    • PHYSICS 361: Intermediate Mechanics
    • PHYSICS 362: Electricity and Magnetism
    • PHYSICS 464: Quantum Mechanics I
    • PHYSICS 513: Nonlinear Dynamics
    • A 300-level or higher physics-related course approved by the Physics DUS after discussion with the DUS.
  • One of the following laboratory courses:
    • PHYSICS 271L: Electronics 
    • PHYSICS 417S: Advanced Physics Laboratory and Seminar 
    • PHYSICS 493: Research Independent Study, with a substantial experimental component.
  • One other physics elective numbered above 200.

BA students are strongly encouraged to get some physics-related research experience, either through a research independent study (PHYSICS 493) or through summer research. Research can be highly rewarding and prepares a student well for graduate school, for employment, and for professional schools. Research can also lead to much stronger letters of recommendation since a faculty member will get to know you well through collaboration. You can talk to the Director of Undergraduate Studies or with any of the professors in the Physics Department to learn about research opportunities.

Mathematics Courses

  • MATH 122L: Introductory Calculus or its equivalent
  • MATH 212: Multivariable Calculus
  • MATH 221: Linear Algebra and Applications

A note on the math requirements: for students who have already taken MATH 216, this course will be accepted in place of MATH 221. However MATH 221/356 is the preferred sequence for physics majors. The math course MATH 356: Elementary Differential Equations is strongly recommended since it provides useful preparation for most upper-level physics courses.  If you have taken MATH 216, then MATH 353: Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations is recommended.

*PHYSICS 141L/142L or 151L/152L are acceptable for satisfying introductory physics requirements for physics majors, for students who have already taken these when starting as a physics major. However, PHYSICS 161 and 162 are strongly encouraged, as they provide better preparation for subsequent courses. Students with AP credit in calculus-based mechanics and E&M are encouraged to take 163D in lieu of 161D and 162D.  All prospective majors should take the half-credit introductory laboratory courses, 164L and 165L.

All physics majors should know how to write computer programs at the level of an introductory computer science course such as COMPSCI 101, and they should learn this skill as soon as possible, preferably by the end of their sophomore year. Knowing how to program greatly increases the opportunities for undergraduate research, theoretical and experimental.

Possible Courses at UNC

Duke students can take physics courses at nearby UNC Chapel Hill, which substantially increases the variety of possible physics courses. Travel back and forth between Duke and UNC is made convenient by the free Robertson Scholarship bus that runs about every half hour between Duke and UNC.

You can take up to one course per semester at UNC-CH (or at any other of the local universities like NC State although UNC is by far the easiest to get to) as long as Duke does not offer an equivalent course. UNC's Physics Department especially has advanced undergraduate courses in condensed matter physics and astrophysics that are currently not offered at Duke.

Please see the UNC physics course offerings. Check out these courses and then sit down with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to see if one of them can fit into your educational plan.