Suggested Course Sequences and Study Abroad

This document gives some suggested course sequences for majors in physics doing a B.S.: physics-major-sequences.pdf

Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics if you have questions about which courses to take or whether your background is suitable for taking a given course, especially Physics 161+161L and 162+162L.

Students who might major in physics should try to complete a year-long college-level calculus-based introductory physics course by the end of their freshman year so that they can take Physics 264 ("Modern Physics") at the beginning of their sophomore year. While it is possible to start the physics major with introductory physics in the sophomore year, this leads to a compressed and challenging academic schedule, with little extra time to take physics electives or to do an independent study involving research.

Note that students without advanced placement credit in calculus or physics will need to take five courses per semester twice in order to fulfill the 34-course graduation requirement.

Study Abroad

There are several ways to incorporate a semester or a year of study abroad into the physics program. The possibilities are too numerous and varied to list and should be discussed with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, but here are some guidelines:

  • Where physics courses are taught in English: Duke physics majors have obtained transfer credit for upper level physics courses taken in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. In cases where the course offerings do not match the Duke curriculum well, special arrangements can be made for supplemental work under the supervision of a professor at the foreign institution. See the Director of Undergraduate Studies for details.
  •  Where physics courses are not taught in English or you do not want to take physics during your semester abroad: If you feel comfortable taking physics in a foreign language, it is likely that you can find a suitable substitute for any course specifically required for the major. More typically, however, Duke students choose not to take any physics while studying in a different language. The AB program can easily accomodate a semester with no physics, and with a little planning and consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, a BS program can generally be arranged. The one constraint is that PHY 264 and PHY 361 must be completed by the end of the junior year.

If you would like to incorporate a semester or year of study abroad into your physics major program, begin by visiting the Duke Global Education for information about affiliated universities. After collecting the relevant information about course offerings at the places that interest you, make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss your options.