Summer Versus Non-Summer (Full Semester) Courses
Before deciding to take a summer intro physics course, please
appreciate that you will master physics more thoroughly if you learn
physics over a full 14-week semester at Duke rather than try to learn
the same amount of physics in less than half the time during a 6-week
summer course. For this reason, the Physics, Chemistry, Biology,
and Neuroscience Departments strongly recommend that you take physics
during the school year, not during the summer.
For life-science students, the Physics Department also strongly
recommends that you take a calculus-based intro physics course. Some
of the most fundamental concepts in physics such as velocity and
acceleration are defined via derivatives, and your understanding will
be fuzzy and unsatisfying if you try to learn physics in an
algebra-based course. Fortunately, only a modest amount of calculus is
required for most intro physics courses for life science students,
corresponding to about one page of formulas. For most students, it is
not calculus that makes intro physics challenging but the large amount
of material covered together with various abstract physical concepts
(force, momentum, energy, torque, electric fields, magnetic fields,
flux, etc) that take time and practice to understand.
Steps to Follow
Please follow these steps to obtain credit for a physics
course that you took away from Duke:
- Obtain approval IN ADVANCE of your course by
Director of Undergraduate
Studies and by your academic dean (see the
Registrar's instructions for transfer courses). Please
appreciate that the Physics Department is under no obligation to
look at your transfer request if you take a summer course first and
then try to get approval, you have been warned.
Your course must be taken at an accredited four-year college or
university, community college courses are not acceptable.
When requesting approval from the Physics DUS, please give the
following information in printed form with your transfer
credit request form to
139B of Physics:
- the title, edition, and author of the textbook use,
- a detailed list of the lecture topics. A brief paragraph
description from a college bulletin or a list of chapter numbers from
some text is not acceptable.
- a list of the titles of the labs done as part of the course.
It is not acceptable to provide this information in the form of
web addresses or as email attachments, you need to provide this
information in printed form.
- Obtain a grade of C- or higher in your course.
- Arrange for the institution where you took your
course to send a transcript to Duke's Registrar's Office.
All students who plan to take a summer intro physics course should try
to take a calculus-based (as opposed to algebra-based) course. This
will prepare you better for later science courses at Duke and for
medical school. All engineering students should try to take intro
physics at Duke instead of as a summer course, they will learn the
material better (14 weeks versus 6 weeks of exposure) and Duke's fall
and spring courses are likely better taught than most summer courses
at other institutes.
What will appear on your transcript?
If you took a calculus-based introductory physics course, if you got a
C- or better grade, and if the Physics DUS approves the course as
being sufficiently similar to one of Duke's introductory physics
courses in content (lectures and labs), you will get a
PHYSICS XXX on your transcript where XXX will be 141 or 142 for
life science majors, and will be 151 or 152 for engineering students.
Any physics course that is determined by the Physics DUS as not being
sufficiently close to a Duke course will show up as a PHY 100L on
your transcript for an intro course, 200L for an upper-level course.
In particular, any algebra-based intro physics course will show up as
a PHY 100L on the transcript since all intro physics courses at
Duke use calculus.