Major: Interdisciplinary Physics


Are you on track to graduate?

Use My LSA Audit Checklist to check your progress. 


 

About Physics ProgramsLearn more about this academic unit’s areas of intellectual expertise, its history, and its undergraduate offerings.

The University of Michigan has one of the country's premier programs for the training of undergraduate and graduate students in physics. The Physics Department has abundant facilities for instruction in physics and offers a wide variety of experimental and theoretical research programs open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduates concentrating in physics have several degree choices:

  • Physics (B.S.)
  • Interdisciplinary Physics (A.B. or B.S.)
  • Honors Physics Program
  • Physics Minor

A total of 60 credits of mathematics and natural science must be elected to receive the Bachelor of Science degree.

Interested undergraduates may also want to look into work in medical physics (a promising path for pre-med students) in the Applied Physics program, or in the Engineering Physics program.

The analytical and quantitative thinking skills you will develop as you work toward any of these degrees will be of great value in many different careers. Most physics majors at U-M follow one (or more) of three paths after graduation:  

  • graduate work in physics or another field
  • employment in industry, software development, or associated field
  • professional school in medicine, business, law, or associated area.

 

Physics AdvisingStudents with any questions about courses or majors or minor in Physics should speak with Physics department advisors

Students with any questions about courses or majors in Physics should speak with Physics department advisors. 

Students wishing to pursue a minor in Physics must develop a specific plan for its completion in consultation with the department's designated advisor. 

Advising appointments can be scheduled in the Physics Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab [(734) 764-5539] or via the online advising calendar www.lsa.umich.edu/physics/academics/undergraduateprogram/advising 

Physics Teaching Certificate InformationLearn more about this academic unit’s areas of intellectual expertise, its history, and its undergraduate offerings.

LSA students may earn an A.B. or B.S. in Interdisciplinary Physics with a focus on teacher certification through the College of LSA and School of Education. Students who wish to earn a secondary teaching certificate in physics should schedule a physics advising appointment before applying to the SOE certification program through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website. (Note: Students are encouraged to apply their sophomore year. The application deadline is October 15.)

Why Major in Physics

Completing an undergraduate degree in physics will give you a rich understanding of how the world works. It will also prepare you either for continued study in graduate or professional school, or for careers in industry, education, medicine, and finance.

About Physics Programs +

The University of Michigan has one of the country's premier programs for the training of undergraduate and graduate students in physics. The Physics Department has abundant facilities for instruction in physics and offers a wide variety of experimental and theoretical research programs open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduates concentrating in physics have several degree choices:

  • Physics (B.S.)
  • Interdisciplinary Physics (A.B. or B.S.)
  • Honors Physics Program
  • Physics Minor

A total of 60 credits of mathematics and natural science must be elected to receive the Bachelor of Science degree.

Interested undergraduates may also want to look into work in medical physics (a promising path for pre-med students) in the Applied Physics program, or in the Engineering Physics program.

The analytical and quantitative thinking skills you will develop as you work toward any of these degrees will be of great value in many different careers. Most physics majors at U-M follow one (or more) of three paths after graduation:  

  • graduate work in physics or another field
  • employment in industry, software development, or associated field
  • professional school in medicine, business, law, or associated area.

 

Why Major in Physics +

The goal of physics is to understand the behavior of matter and energy on every level, from the origins of the universe in the Big Bang to the interior of atoms in your computer screen. In seeking a pure understanding of how the world works, physicists have revolutionized our lives.

 

 

Some of the physics driven achievements of the 20th century include:

  • Electrical power
  • Radio, television, and cellular communication
  • Travel to the moon and planets
  • The transistor and the electronic revolution, including computers and networks
  • The world-wide web: invented to facilitate communication among high energy physicists
  • Medical imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, positron emission tomography, and endoscopes
  • The discovery of the Big Bang, black holes, and the accelerating expansion of the universe

Despite this remarkable record of achievement, great mysteries remain and fundamental physics research continues at a furious pace. Here are some of the questions now being pursued by physicists at the University of Michigan:

  • Can practical quantum computers be built? How would they outperform today’s digital computers?
  • What is the origin of mass? Why do electrons and quarks have the masses that they do?
  • What is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate, and will it continue to do so forever?
  • How does the mechanical stretchiness of proteins like DNA affect their biological function?
  • What causes electrons to flow with absolutely no resistance in some materials?

In all these areas of research, the faculty are assisted by undergraduate students, who in addition to learning about physics in class, are doing physics in the lab.

Completing an undergraduate degree in physics will give you a rich understanding of how the world works. It will also prepare you either for continued study in graduate or professional school, or for careers in industry, education, medicine, and finance.

Many physics students have broad interests and more than a third graduate with double majors. Common companion majors in recent years include mathematics, astronomy and astrophysics, education, philosophy, and music.

Physics Advising +

Students with any questions about courses or majors in Physics should speak with Physics department advisors. 

Students wishing to pursue a minor in Physics must develop a specific plan for its completion in consultation with the department's designated advisor. 

Advising appointments can be scheduled in the Physics Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab [(734) 764-5539] or via the online advising calendar www.lsa.umich.edu/physics/academics/undergraduateprogram/advising 

Modern science is increasingly interdisciplinary. The Interdisciplinary Physics major allows students the flexibility to supplement their core study of physics with courses in complementary fields. This major can be effective preparation for graduate study in the sciences, for medical, law, and business schools, or for direct entry into the job market. 

Because students pursuing the Interdisciplinary Physics degree have a wide variety of career goals, advising from a Physics department advisor is especially important.

It is intended that the flexibility allowed by this program should be used in a well thought out and effective way.

Interdisciplinary Physics Major

Effective Date: Fall 2012  

May be as a departmental major program.

Students interested in concentrating in Interdisciplinary Physics should have an understanding of mathematics through differential equations. To declare a major in Interdisciplinary Physics a student must develop an individual plan with a department advisor.

 Prerequisites to the Major 

  •  PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 125/136 and 126/236, or PHYSICS 135/136 and 235/236, or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261); and 
  • PHYSICS 340/341 and PHYSICS 351.

Program of study in a major

At least 24 credits, including at least 9 in PHYSICS courses numbered 390 and above. The Physics Department requires no less than 12 credits toward the major program be completed in-residence.

A plan for the major must include:

  1. PHYSICS 390+. 
  2. Two additional Physics courses at the 400 level*.
    *PHYSICS 390 and these 400 level Physics course must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
  3. Fifteen credits of cognate courses as part of an interdisciplinary plan designed with the approval of a  department advisor.

 The courses selected should form a coherent program of study. 

Examples of possible programs of study include Statistics, Astrophysics, Philosophy, Cosmology, Economics and Finance, Quantum Computing, Biology, Chemical Physics, Nanotechnology, Medical Physics, Environmental Physics, Global Change, Geophysics, Mathematical Physics, Science Writing, Science Policy, Physics of Technology, Applied Physics, Computational Physics, Physics Education, or Industrial Physics. Possible course selections in each of these areas can be viewed at: 

http://www.lsa.umich.edu/physics/academics/undergraduateprogram/majorminorprograms

Honors Plan   

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors plan in Interdisciplinary Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for the major, candidates for Honors must elect an additional three credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and elect an additional 3 credit course as part of the cognate program. They must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member. Some students in this degree line are pursuing interdisciplinary or dual degrees. Students wishing to complete an Honors senior thesis with a faculty member outside the Physics Department must meet with a department advisor for prior approval. 

Interdisciplinary Physics Major (Fall 2011-Summer 2012) +

Effective Date: Fall 2011-Summer 2012

May be as a departmental major program.

 

 To declare a major in Interdisciplinary Physics a student must develop an individual plan with a department advisor. The courses selected should form a coherent program of study. 

Prerequisites to the Major

Mathematics through MATH 216 (or the equivalent); PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 125/136 and 126/236, or PHYSICS 135/136 and 235/236, or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261); and PHYSICS 340/341 and PHYSICS 351.

Requirements for the Major

At least 24 credits, including at least 9 in PHYSICS courses numbered 390 and above. A plan for the major must include:

  1. PHYSICS 390+. 
  2. Two additional Physics courses at the 400 level*.
    *PHYSICS 390 and these 400 level Physics course must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
  3. Fifteen credits of cognate courses as part of an interdisciplinary plan designed with the approval of a Physics department advisor .

Honors Plan

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors plan in Interdisciplinary Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for the major, candidates for Honors must elect an additional three credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and elect an additional 3 credit course as part of the cognate program. They must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member. Some students in this degree line are pursuing interdisciplinary or dual degrees. Students wishing to complete an Honors senior thesis with a faculty member outside the Physics Department must meet with a department advisor for prior approval. 

Interdisciplinary Physics major (Fall 2010-Summer 2011) +

 

Effective Date of Major: Fall 2010-Summer 2011 

May be as a departmental major program.

It is intended that the flexibility allowed by this program should be used in a well thought out and effective way. To declare a major in Interdisciplinary Physics a student must develop an individual plan with a department advisor. The courses selected should form a coherent program of study. 

Prerequisites to the Major

 Mathematics through MATH 216 (or the equivalent); PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 125/136 and 126/236, or PHYSICS 135/136 and 235/236, or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261); and PHYSICS 340/341.

Requirements for the Major 

At least 27 credits, including at least 12 in PHYSICS courses numbered 390 and above. A plan for the major must include:

  1. PHYSICS 390. Three additional Physics courses at the 400 level.
    PHYSICS 390 and these 400 level Physics course must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
  2. Fifteen credits of cognate courses as part of an interdisciplinary plan designed with the approval of a Physics department advisor .

Honors Plan

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors plan in Interdisciplinary Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for the major, candidates for Honors must elect an additional three credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and elect an additional 3 credit course as part of the cognate program. They must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member. Some students in this degree line are pursuing interdisciplinary or dual degrees. Students wishing to complete an Honors senior thesis with a faculty member outside the Physics Department must meet with a department advisor for prior approval. 

Interdisciplinary Physics major (Fall 2006 through Summer 2010) +

Effective Date of Major: September 1, 2006  through Summer 2010 Previously General Physics

 May be as a departmental major program.

 

It is intended that the flexibility allowed by this program should be used in a well thought out and effective way. To declare a major in Interdisciplinary Physics a student must develop an individual plan with a department advisor. The courses selected should form a coherent program of study. 

 Prerequisites to the Major

Mathematics through MATH 216 (or the equivalent); PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 125/127 and 126/128, or PHYSICS 135/141 and 235/241, or PHYSICS 160/161 and 260/261); and PHYSICS 340/341.

Requirements for the Major

 At least 27 credits, including at least 12 in PHYSICS courses numbered 390 and above. A plan for the major must include:

  1. PHYSICS 390. Three additional Physics courses at the 400 level.
    PHYSICS 390 and these 400 level Physics course must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.
  2. Fifteen credits of cognate courses as part of an interdisciplinary plan designed with the approval of a Physics department advisor .

Honors Plan

Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors plan in Interdisciplinary Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for the major, candidates for Honors must elect an additional three credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and elect an additional 3 credit course as part of the cognate program. They must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member. Some students in this degree line are pursuing interdisciplinary or dual degrees. Students wishing to complete an Honors senior thesis with a faculty member outside the Physics Department must meet with a department advisor for prior approval. 

General Physics major (February 2, 2001-August 31, 2006) +

Effective Date of major: February 2, 2001-August 31, 2006

May be elected as a departmental major.

The General Physics curriculum is designed to enable students desiring a degree in Physics to pursue serious study of other areas as well. Many students pursuing multiple majors follow the General Physics program. It can provide strong preparation for graduate study, especially when done in combination with other technical study, such as Mathematics, Astronomy, or Chemistry.

Prerequisites to the Major. Mathematics through MATH 216 (or the equivalent); PHYSICS 135/141 and 235/241 or PHYSICS 140/141 and 240/241 (or PHYSICS 125/127 and 126/128, or PHYSICS 160/141 and 260/241); and PHYSICS 340/341.

Requirements for the Major. At least 30 credits, including at least 24 in PHYSICS courses numbered 390 and above. A plan for the major must include:

  1. PHYSICS 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453.

    PHYSICS 401 and 405 should precede PHYSICS 453; PHYSICS 453 is a prerequisite to most courses numbered above 453.

    PHYSICS 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453 must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.

  2. PHYSICS 451 or the equivalent; should precede PHYSICS 405 and 453.

  3. Six credits from the following: PHYSICS 402, 411, 413, 419, 435, 452, 455, 457, 460, 463, and 489.

  4. Cognates: Six credits of courses from one cognate department, selected in consultation with and approved by the department advisor.

Honors Plan. Students who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are encouraged to elect an Honors major in General Physics. In addition to the regular departmental requirements for a General Physics major, candidates for an Honors major must elect an additional three credits of PHYSICS from courses numbered 401 and above which are not otherwise required and elect an additional 3 credit cognate course from the cognate department. They must also complete a senior Honors thesis based on research (PHYSICS 498/499) done under the supervision of a faculty member. Some students in this degree line are pursuing interdisciplinary or dual degrees. A physics faculty contact person will be arranged for students doing research under a faculty member in their cognate department.

Teaching Certificate

General Physics concentration (Fall 2000-February 2, 2001) +

 

General Physics

May be elected as a departmental concentration program.

Prerequisites to Concentration. Mathematics through Mathematics 216 (or the equivalent); Physics 140/141 and 240/241 (or Physics 125/127 and 126/128), and Physics 340/341.

Concentration Program. At least 31 credits, including at least 21 in physics courses numbered 390 and above. A concentration plan must include:

  1. Physics 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453.
  2. Physics 401 and 405 should precede Physics 453; Physics 453 is a prerequisite to most courses numbered above 453.
  3. Six credits from the following: Physics 402, 411, 413, 419, 435, 438, 451, 452, 455, 457, 460, 463, and 489.
  4. Mathematics 450 (or the equivalent)
  5. Cognates: Six credits of courses from one cognate department, selected in consultation with and approved by the concentration advisor. Mathematics 450 may not be included in these six credits.

Physics and Society Option. This program, administered jointly by the Physics Department and the Residential College, is designed for students who wish to concentrate in physics and also who are interested in such fields as energy policy, law and science, public administration, and other fields that require an understanding of the relationship between science and society. In addition to the minimum requirements, students must complete a minimum of three courses (9-12 credits) in Science and Society.

The Science and Society courses are chosen in consultation with and must be approved by the Residential College Science Program advisor. Contact the advisor at 763-0032 or stop by at 134 Tyler East Quad. These courses, addressing various dimensions of the social relations of science and technology (e.g., history and sociology of science, science policy), are upper-level courses (300 and above). They may be used to satisfy the cognate requirement for the General Physics concentration (requirement #4). One course may also partially satisfy the requirement for six credits of 400-level physics courses specified under requirement #2. Science and Society courses in physics used to satisfy requirement #2 must also be approved by the Physics Department. One of the Science and Society courses may be an Independent Study with a major experiential component (e.g., an internship in an organization that addresses issues related to science policy) and a required report analyzing the experience. It is permissible for concentrators to take the Science and Society courses in several departments.

Physics 390, 401, 405, 406, and 453 must be completed with a minimum grade of a C- in each course and a cumulative average of C or higher.

 

Advising. A concentration plan in physics is developed in consultation with and must be approved by the concentration advisor. The advisor's name and consultation hours will be available at the Physics Student Services Office, 2464 Randall Lab.

 

Teaching Certificate. A teaching certificate with a teaching major in Physics requires 30 credits of physics; a teaching minor requires 20. Teaching Major and minor refer to the program emphasis necessary for certification. Students wishing an LS&A degree in Physics should follow the programs for the BS degree in Physics or General Physics. In addition to the physics courses, Math 115, 116, 215, and 216 or the equivalent must be completed. Some physics courses have math prerequisites. Please consult a program advisor early in your planning.

A teaching certificate major in physics must include

  1. Physics 140/141, 240/241, and 340/341 or the equivalent. (15 credits)
  2. One course from the list: Physics 103, 104, 106, 107, 116, 201, 250. (1-3 credits).
  3. Additional courses from the list: Physics 288, 390, 401, 402, 405, 441, 442, 455. (12-14 credits).

A teaching certificate minor in physics must include

  1. Physics 140/141, 240/241, and 340/341 or the equivalent. (15 credits)
  2. Students should select one course from the list: Physics 103, 104, 106, 107, 116, 201, 250. (1-3 credits).
  3. Additional courses from the list: Physics 288, 390, 401, 402, 405, 441, 442, 455. (2-4 credits).

A teaching certificate with a teaching major in Physical Science requires 16 credits of physics; a teaching minor requires 10 credits. Teaching Major and minor refer to the program emphasis necessary for certification. Students wishing an LS&A degree in Physics should follow the programs for the BS degree in Physics or General Physics. In addition to the physics courses, Math 115, and 116 or the equivalent must be completed. Some physics courses have math prerequisites. Please consult a program advisor early in your planning.

A teaching certificate major in physical science must include

  1. Completion of one of the following sequences:
    1. Physics 125/127 and Physics 126/128, or
    2. Physics 140/141 and 240/241. (8-10 credits)
  2. Two courses from the list: Physics 103, 104, 106, 107, 116. (2-6 credits)
  3. Additional courses from the list: Physics 201, 250, 288. (0-6 credits)

A teaching certificate minor in physics must include (8-10 credits)

  1. Completion of one of the following sequences:
    1. Physics 125/127 and Physics 126/128, or
    2. Physics 140/141 and 240/241.
  2. Additional courses from the list: Physics 103, 104, 106, 107, 116, 201, 250, 288.


College of Literature, Science, and the Arts 500 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI  48109 © 2014 Regents of the University of Michigan