Physics Major

Additional Information on the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics



Physics is the most fundamental science. It is the foundation for our understanding of the world around us, spanning the ultimate depths within subatomic nuclei to distances beyond the known universe. Physics provides a basis for other sciences, including chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology. Physics discoveries, which led to technologies ranging from energy sources to quantum information and nano-communication devices to state of the art medical diagnostics, have revolutionized our world, and will continue to do so. The physics curriculum at Tulane provides strong analytical skills and problem-solving abilities for careers ranging from academic research, to industrial development, to large government exploration, to project management, to the financial sector, to creative writing. The curriculum is unusually flexible and has successfully led to degrees with double, and even triple majors in diverse fields. The physics program also promotes and rewards creativity, stimulates intellectual development, and engages our students in life-long learning.

Mission Statement for Physics

The mission of the Physics program is to provide outstanding opportunities for learning and research in physics and teaching of the highest quality and impact, addressing needs and challenges of the 21st century. The program is designed to assist our students in developing deep understanding via powerful problem-solving skills, preparing them for a very broad range of opportunities.

Program Objectives for Physics

The Physics program aims to educate students to become professionals with in-depth knowledge and skills in science and mathematics to understand physical systems; to research, design and solve problems in physics and related disciplines; and to provide the foundation for graduate study and lifelong learning. Our objective is to prepare graduates to be able to successfully pursue:

Program Outcomes for Physics

Graduates of the Physics program at Tulane University will attain:

Our physics curriculum places emphasis on:

The basic physics requirements are flexible and accommodate degrees with majors in multiple and diverse fields. Students planning to continue on to graduate school should take more than the minimum courses required.

General course requirements for Physics

The intention of Tulanes physics major program is to encourage students to continue on to graduate education in Physics and related disciplines or to pursue cross-disciplinary preparation in physics for medical or other professional schools. Dual majors are encouraged, however students may not major in both Physics and Engineering Physics due to the substantial overlap. Students pursuing a career in physics are advised to follow the "Pre-Graduate Training" sequence.

The basic requirements for a physics major are as follows.
At least 13 credits (four courses) of mathematics are required.

At least two courses at the 200 level or above.

Seven courses in Physics including:
Six credits (two courses) must be chosen from from classical topics:
Six credits (two courses) must be chosen from among contemporary topics:
Advanced Laboratory
Physics Seminar
Five elective courses in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, or Engineering at the 200 level or above

Electives from other Science departments at the two hundred level and above are not normally accepted. Students should always confirm with the Major Advisor that all their electives are acceptable. All courses or electives counting towards the requirements must be at least three credits.

Sample Schedule of classes for Physics

(This is only a suggested schedule and students should not feel compelled in any way to model their course of studies on this example. Many other options and alternatives are possible, especially when including a double major. Chemistry, for example, is not a requirement for the B.S. in Physics. The illustration of certain courses in certain semesters below does not guarantee they will be offered in the suggested semester. Many physics courses at the 300 level and above are given only once every two years. Students should keep abreast of actual course offerings as they are published by the Registrar.)

1st Year Fall:
1st year Spring:
2nd Year Fall:
2nd Year Spring:
3rd Year Fall:
3rd Year Spring:
4th Year Fall:
4th Year Spring:
Pre-Graduate Training in Physics

The student who intends to continue graduate work in physics should complete at least 32 credits in physics including 1310, 1320, 2350, 2360, 3630, 3740, 4230, 4470, 4650. Students are encouraged to undertake a research project and write a senior honors thesis under the supervision of a physics faculty member. The student should also take MATH 4470 or its equivalent. Other recommended mathematics courses include 3050, 3090, 4060, 4210, and 4300. Courses in scientific computing, e.g., PHYS 3170 or MATH 3310 are also recommended.