Physics B.S.

Major Requirements (SF State Bulletin: Degree Requirements)

Roadmap (SF State Bulletin: Roadmap)

GE Requirements (SF State Bulletin: General Education)

Major Department Website

Your major advisor answered a few questions to assist you with your first semester courses — see below.

General Information

What are some of the highlights and features to know about this major? The Department of Physics & Astronomy offers 5 undergraduate degree options: The B.A. Physics, the B.A. Physics with Concentration in Astronomy, and the B.S. Physics with Concentration in Teaching Physics degrees all provide excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing careers in K12 teaching, outreach in museums, planetaria, and science centers such as the Cal Academy of Sciences or the Exploratorium, science reporting and journalism, or for general business & industry in which a technical background and problem-solving skills are valued. These degrees are flexible enough for students to simultaneously pursue minors or B.A. degrees in other disciplines. The B.S. Physics and the B.S. Physics with Concentration in Astrophysics degrees provide broad and deep rigorous theoretical and experimental training that is ideal for students who want to pursue scientific and technical careers or advanced degrees such as the M.S. or Ph.D.
When should I first meet with my major department? As soon as possible, preferably a few weeks before the start of classes so that an academic major advisor can help you map out your course schedule for all subsequent semesters.
How will I be assigned to a major advisor and how do I contact them? The Department of Physics & Astronomy will assign students to a major advisor. Students can also contact the Academic Office Coordinator Caroline Alcantara at if they do not know who their advisor is.
Where can I find information about major advising? See the "Academics" section of the department website:
Does your department have a major planning sheet for me as a guide? Yes, we have a major planning sheet
Does this major require any pre-work from me before I attend orientation or register for classes? Not applicable.
What should I do if my major core and/or prequisite courses are full?

Lower-division calculus & physics courses fill quickly, so students should register for classes as soon as their appointment window opens. Upper-division classes always have room for majors. Students should immediately consult with their major advisor if they are having difficulty enrolling in required classes.

Take any remaining GE requirements.

Is there anything else I need to know about starting in this major? (1) In consultation with a major advisor, students should map out their schedules for all subsequent semesters. The physics sequence is very hierarchical: classes must be completed in a particular order. Upper-division classes are often only offered once per year, and sometimes only every other year. Having a plan is critical for staying on track for timely graduation. (2) Make sure you start the major right away by taking the appropriate math and physics classes in your very first semester. A common mistake is to delay taking calculus or introductory physics until after completing lower-division G.E.

Transfer Student Info

What upper division courses should I take in my first semester as a transfer student for this major?

Transfer students who have completed lower-division calculus and physics and who are starting in a fall semester should take: PHYS 320 - Modern Physics I, PHYS 321 - Modern Physics Laboratory, PHYS 330 - Analytic Mechanics, PHYS 385 - Introduction to Theoretical Physics.

In addition to the above courses, astronomy & astrophysics students should also take: and/or ASTR 301 - Observational Astronomy Laboratory.

Are there any prerequisites to these upper division courses for the major?

Lower-division prerequisites include: MATH 226 - Calculus I, MATH 227 - Calculus II, MATH 228 - Calculus III, PHYS 220/222 - General Physics with Calculus I and Lab, PHYS 230/232 - General Physics with Calculus II and Lab, PHYS 240/242 - General Physics with Calculus III and Lab.

Students should also have taken courses in ordinary differential equations and linear algebra. Students may take a combined course that covers both these topics with less depth (the equivalent of MATH 245 - Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra at SFSU). Students who want more depth (especially students who want to complete a Minor in Mathematics) should take two separate courses in linear algebra (MATH 325 at SFSU) and ordinary differential equations (MATH 376 at SFSU). Ideally, students should also have taken an introductory programming course (C or Python).

Are there any registration blocks or holds in the system for this major, and if so, what do I do/who do I contact to clear them? All physics and astronomy majors are required to get advising every fall semester. Students will be blocked from registering for spring classes until they have met with their major advisor.
Does this major have an approved Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) roadmap? Bachelor of Science in Physics – PHYS Associate Degree for Transfer:

Freshmen Student Info

Are there any courses I should take first as a Freshman to get started in this major and/or are there any lower division GE course requirements that I can take that will also count toward this major?

It is critical that first-year students take the appropriate math class in the very first semester.

Students who are ready for Calculus I should enroll in MATH 226 in the fall and MATH 227 and PHYS 220/222 in the following spring.
Students who need precalculus should take MATH 199 in the fall semester and MATH 226 in the following spring semester. Students who need a stretched version of precalculus should take MATH 197 in their first fall, MATH 198 in the following spring, and then MATH 226 in their second fall. 

MATH 198, 199, and 226 satisfy the G.E. Area B4: Quantitative Reasoning; PHYS 220 satisfies G.E. Area B1: Physics Science; PHYS 222 satisfies G.E. Area B3: Laboratory Science.

*1-unit Supplemental Instruction courses (SCI) are offered for these classes as additional support. These courses can be found in the SFSU Class Schedule ( by searching for the SCI prefix.

Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?

Precalculus, either in high school with a high enough grade, or MATH 199, or both MATH 197 & 198.

Can any of my AP or IB tests count toward requirements in this major?

(1) A.P. Calculus AB with a score of 4 or 5 is equivalent to MATH 226 - Calculus I

(2) A.P. Calculus BC with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB subpart is equivalent to MATH 226 - Calculus I

(3) A.P. Calculus BC with a score of 5 is equiavlent to both MATH 226 - Calculus I and MATH 227 - Calculus II

(4) A.P. Physics CM with a score of 4 or 5 is equivalent to PHYS 220/222 - General Physics with Calculus I and Lab

(5) A.P. Physics CEM with a score of 4 or 5 is equivalent to PHYS 230/232 - General Physics with Calculus II and Lab

(6) A.P. Computer Science A with a score of 4 or 5 satisfies the computer science requirement for the B.S. degrees



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Services offered: academic planning, general education advising, graduation check (GE and graduation requirements), study abroad, connecting with communities, discovering campus resources

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