Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College



Major in Physics

Physics major worksheet

The major in physics consists of a minimum of 11 semester physics courses, as outlined below, chosen in consultation with members of the department so as to form a coherent program in support of the student’s interests and goals.

Required courses

PHYS 170 OR PHYS 180 Enhanced Introductory Physics I
PHYS 171 OR PHYS 181 Introductory Physics II (Enhanced)
PHYS 225 Modern Physics
PHYS 311 Classical Mechanics
PHYS 350 Experimental Physics

The following three core physics courses. With department approval, another 300-level physics course may replace ONE of these courses, but students considering graduate school in physics or astronomy should take all three.

PHYS 310 Statistical and Thermal Physics
PHYS 314 Electric and Magnetic Fields
PHYS 370 Quantum Mechanics

Two or more of the following courses:

PHYS 110 Electronic Circuits
PHYS 226 Optics
PHYS 227 Remote Sensing
PHYS 228 Scientific Computing
AST 272 Introduction to Astrophysics
PHYS 298 Meteorology and Oceanography
AST 302 Advanced Astrophysics
PHYS 360 Geophysics

Mathematics requirement

MATH 236 Multivariable Calculus

All majors in their junior and senior year are required to participate in a research project for one semester or for a summer. Each student is required to write a report and give an oral presentation about the project.

Recommended courses outside the department

MATH 221 Linear Algebra and MATH 212 Differential Equations are highly recommended for students planning on pursuing graduate school in astronomy, engineering, physics or related fields. Computer Programming (COMP 115 is also highly recommended.

Major in Astronomy and Physics

Astronomy and Physics major worksheet

This interdisciplinary major, requiring at least 10 courses, provides an opportunity for students to pursue their interest in astronomy at a deeper level than is possible through the minor in astronomy by taking courses in physics that provide additional perspective on the fundamental principles underlying astronomical research. This major is not recommended for students planning to do graduate work in astronomy; such students should major in physics.

Required courses

AST 130 The Universe
AST 140 The Solar System
AST 202 Frontiers of Astronomy
AST 305 Observational Astronomy
PHYS 225 Modern Physics
PHYS 350 Experimental Physics

Two of the following courses:
AST 250 Ancient Astronomies
AST 272 Introduction to Astrophysics
AST 302 Advanced Astrophysics
AST 303 Astrobiology

One of the following courses:
PHYS 170 Introductory Physics I
PHYS 171 Introductory Physics II
PHYS 180 Enhanced Introductory Physics I
PHYS 181 Introductory Physics II (Enhanced)

One additional 300-level PHYS or AST course.

Physics and Engineering: Dual Degree

Students who are interested in using physics as a base to pursue an engineering career should consider participating in a Wheaton dual-degree program in engineering. This program allows students completing three years at Wheaton and two or more additional years at another institution to earn a bachelor of arts degree from Wheaton and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering.

Departmental honors

Departmental honors will be awarded to students who successfully complete the Senior Honors Thesis and have an average of B+ or better in the major and an average of B or better overall.

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