General Recommendations for Physics Courses

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Course selection guidelines can be found here. We encourage students to begin physics early, as that maximizes their future options.

Some brief suggestions:

  • If you are a prospective physics major, you should consider beginning your career with PHYS 1112 or PHYS 1116 (the latter being more challenging and requiring a stronger mathematics and physics background).  Those with a strong interest in physics who qualify for advanced placement credit are generally advised to forfeit the credit, and (assuming they have the required mathematics prerequisites) instead take the honors course PHYS 1116. Those interested in taking higher level physics courses are encouraged to begin Physics during their first year. More information about the major can be found on our website.  Students interested in combining physics with other disciplines should look into our "outside concentrations".
     
  • If you are a prospective physics major, you may also be interested in supplementing your introductory courses with one (or more) of our survey courses: PHYS 1117 Concepts of Modern Physics (1 credit), AEP 1100 Lasers and Photonics (3 credits), or AEP 1200 Introduction to Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (3 credits).
     
  • If you are a prospective engineering or physical science student (with an intended major other than Physics), then consider taking PHYS 1112-2213-2214 (though for some students PHYS 2207-2208 or PHYS 1116-2217-2218 are good options).
     
  • Pre-health students and life science majors typically take PHYS 1101-1102 or PHYS 2207-2208. PHYS 1101-1102 is an algebra based course taught in an "individualized instruction" format, featuring a unique learning environment where students have the opportunity to seek one-on-one help from experienced teachers, yet maintain a large degree of control over their schedule.  PHYS 2207-2208 is a calculus based sequence featuring more traditionally structured lectures, recitations and labs. Freshmen are not permitted to enroll in PHYS 1101, but are welcome to enroll in PHYS 2207. Students often find that the course format (individual instruction vs. lecture) is more important than the mathematics level (algebra vs. calculus). Life Science students requiring a very strong physics background (for example those in Biological Engineering) should take PHYS 1112-2213-(2214) or honors equivalents.
     
  • Medical and veterinarian schools requirements are satisfied by any of the following four sequences: PHYS 1101-1102, PHYS 2207-2008, PHYS 1112-2213-2214, and PHYS 1116-2217-2218. For students whose major is not Physics, these courses are not usually taken during the first year.
     
  • Students are able to move between sequences, (for example taking PHYS 2207-2213-2214 or PHYS 1112-2217-2218), but are advised to first consult with the instructors to identify any special difficulties which might arise.
     
  • General education courses with few or no prerequisites are offered. These include: PHYS 1201, Why the Sky is Blue; PHYS 1203, Physics of the Heavens and Earth; PHYS 1204, The Physics of Musical Sound; PHYS 1205, The Art of Physics.
     
  • Click here for more information about transfer credits.
     
  • Click here for more information about our advanced standing exams.

If you have questions, please consult your faculty advisor (if in the physics department), or the physics Director of Undergraduate Studies (physicsdus@cornell.edu).