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Physics Major

The intention of Tulane’s 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. Students pursuing a career in physics are advised to follow the “Pre-graduate Training” sequence. Please note that the basic requirements for a Physics major have changed for students beginning in the Fall 2012 semester. Current students will continue under the "Previous Requirements", and new students entering Tulane in the Fall 2012 semester, and thereafter, will follow the "New Requirements".

Previous Requirements:

The basic requirements for a physics major are as follows:


Physics Major Program
  • The minimum requirements are seven courses in Physics (including Physics 1310 and 1320), four in Mathematics, and an additional five elective courses in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, or Engineering at the two thousand level or above. Electives from other Science departments at the two thousand 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.
  • Two upper level courses must be chosen from among contemporary topics (2350, 2360, 3210, 3230, 3450, 4470, 6070, 6080, 6210, 6230, 6300, 6450, 6750) and two courses (at least six credits) from classical topics (3630, 3740, 4230, 4650, 6010, 6020). Students are strongly urged to take Physics 2350 and 2360.
  • The Advanced Laboratory 3530 is also required.
  • Satisfactory completion of one semester of Colloquium 3800 is required for degree certification (one credit).
  • At least four courses of mathematics (totaling at least 13 credit hours) are required. No more than two of the four mathematics courses may be at the 1000 level.
  • It is recommended that a course in computer science (e.g. CMPS 1500) be taken early in a student’s undergraduate career.

New Requirements:

The basic requirements for a physics major for new students entering Tulane in the Fall 2012 semester, and thereafter, are as follows:


Physics Major Program
  • The minimum requirements are nine courses in Physics (1310 and above), including Physics 1310, 1320, 2350, and 2360, and 3530 (Advanced Laboratory), four in Mathematics, and an additional approved five elective courses in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, or Engineering at the two thousand level or above, and Seminar 3800. 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 (except Seminar 3800, which does not count as one of the nine courses in Physics).
  • Of the nine required Physics courses, two upper level courses must be chosen from 3740 (Classical Mechanics), 3630 (Electromagnetic Theory), 4230 (Thermal Physics), 4470 (Intro. Quantum Mechanics), and 3010 (Theoretical Physics).
  • At least four courses in mathematics (totaling at least 13 credit hours) are required. No more than two of the four mathematics courses may be at the 1000 level.
  • It is recommended that a course in computer science (e.g. CMPS 1500) be taken early in a student’s undergraduate career.
  • The minimum GPA for degree certification, counting all courses pertaining to Physics, Mathematics, and approved Science and Engineering electives, is 2.50.

Students are encouraged to consider a bachelor of science in physics as preparation for graduate study in disciplinary and interdisciplinary sciences (physics, astrophysics, biophysics, chemistry, neuroscience, materials science, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, and applied physics), for professional study in medicine, patent law, business, or engineering, and for careers in environmental science, in mathematical or computer modeling, in science writing, or in science and public policy.

Within the requirements above, programs can be tailored to suit the needs of students who elect these career options. In addition, the department offers a 4+1 program that allows students to obtain a Master’s Degree in five years, by enabling them to take graduate level courses as an undergraduate. Tulane University is a member of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) consortium.

Research opportunities are often available for undergraduate Physics majors in conjunction with faculty, on a case by case basis.

Students are responsible for fulfilling all TIDES, cultural knowledge, foreign language, writing, service learning, and other requirements, required by Tulane and the School of Science and Engineering.

Physics Pre-Graduate Training

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, and 4650. Students are encouraged to undertake a research project and write a senior honors thesis under the supervision of a physics faculty member. Recommended mathematics courses include 3050, 3090, 4060, 4210, and 4300. Courses in scientific computing, e.g., PHYS 3170 or MATH 3310 are also recommended.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764 sse@tulane.edu