The study of physics is undertaken by three principal classes of undergraduates:
Physics courses numbered below 100 are planned to serve all three
of these groups. The courses numbered above 100 meet the needs
mainly of the third group, but also of some students majoring in
other branches of science and in engineering.
The Department of Physics offers three year-long entry level
physics sequences, the PHYSICS 20, 40 (formerly 50), and 60
series. The first of these is non-calculus-based, and is intended
primarily for those who are majoring in the biological sciences.
Such students with AP credit, particularly those who are
considering research careers, may wish to consider taking the
Physics 20 or 40 series, rather than using AP placement. These
introductory series provide a depth and emphasis on problem
solving that is of significant value in biological research, which
today involves considerable physics-based technology.
For those intending to major in engineering or the physical sciences, or simply wishing a stronger background in physics, the department offers the Physics 40 and 60 series. Either of these will satisfy the entry- level physics requirements of any Stanford major. The 60 series is intended for those who have already taken a physics course at the level of the 40 series, or at least have a strong background in mechanics, some background in electricity and magnetism, and a strong background in calculus. The PHYSICS 40 series begins with the mechanics in Winter Quarter, electricity and magnestism in Spring Quarter, and light and heat in Autumn Quarter. While it is recommended that most students begin the sequence with mechanics (PHYSICS 41) in Winter Quarter, those who have had strong physics preparation in high school (such as a score of at least 4 on the Physics Advanced Placement C exam) may be eligible to start the sequence with PHYSICS 45 in Autumn Quarter. The best entry point into either the 40 or 60 series will be determined individually via the Physics Placement Test (see below).
A calculus-based-level series is required, either PHYSICS 61, 62,
63, 64, 65, 67 or 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 (or preferably 67 rather
than 44). Students who take the PHYSICS 40 series take PHYSICS 70,
which covers foundations of modern physics. This material is also
incorporated into the PHYSICS 60 series beginning 2005-06.
Students taking the PHYSICS 60 series in 2005-06 or later do not
take PHYSICS 70; instead they must take one advanced Physics
elective (100-level or higher). In addition, the following, more
advanced courses are required: PHYSICS 105, 107 (WIM), 108, 110,
120, 121, 130, 131, 170, and 171; MATH 51, 52, 53, 131; one
additional Mathematics course numbered 101 or higher, or PHYSICS
112. MATH 51H 52H, and 53H may substitute for MATH 51, 52, and 53.
It is strongly recommended that students intending to complete a
Ph.D. in Physics also take PHYSICS 113, 134, and one or more of
the following, depending upon their interests: PHYSICS 100, 152A,
152B, 160, 161, 172, 204, 262, APPLIED PHYSICS 192 or EE
261. PHYSICS 113 is designed to be taken in parallel with
110. The department advises the study of some computer science
such as CS106. Mathematics and Physics courses taken to satisfy
the department's major requirements cannot be taken on a
credit/no-credit basis. Prospective Physics majors are also
recommended to take PHYSICS 59, Current Research Topics, in their
freshman or sophomore year.
To decide which introductory sequence is appropriate, students contemplating majoring in physics are urged to take the Physics Placement Test (see above) to determine whether the Physics 40 or 60 series would be more suitable. Students who begin taking an entry level physics course after their freshman year and wish to major in physics should also take the Physics Placement Test.Degree Requirements_Handout.PDF
Undergraduates are offered help with physics problems in the Physics
Tutoring Center, located near the introductory classroom
labs in the Physics and Astrophysics Building sub-basement, room
| New 40 Series
||Old 50 Series|
| Phys 41 – Mechanics (Winter)
||Phys 53 – Mechanics (Winter)|
|Phys 43 – Electricity and Magnetism (Spring)||Phys 55 – E&M (Spring)|
|Phys 45 – Light and Heat (Fall)||Phys 51 – Light and Heat (Fall)|
||New 60 Series||Old 60 Series|
|Phys61||Mechanics and Special Relativity||Mechanics|
|Phys63||Electricity Magnetism and Waves||Electromagnetism|
|Phys65||Thermodynamics and Foundations of Modern Physics||Thermodynamics and Optics|