For information about Web accessibility, please contact the Webmaster at webmaster@haverford.edu.

Haverford College
Departments of Physics and Astronomy
header imageheader imageheader imageheader imageheader imageheader imageheader imageheader image

Academic Programs: Major Requirements

Traditional Physics Major Requirements

  1. Physics 105 (or 101 or 115), 106 (or 102), 213, 214, 211, and 301 (or Bryn Mawr equivalents). The last two are normally taken concurrently with 213 and 214.
  2. Either Math 121 or Math 216 and Math 215 (linear algebra).
  3. Six upper-level courses in physics at Haverford or Bryn Mawr. One of these must be advanced physics laboratory (326 or Bryn Mawr 331 or 305). All majors must take three of the four core theoretical courses: 302, 303, 308 and 309

    Students considering graduate study in physics are advised to take at least four of the core lecture courses (302, 303, 309 and 309) as well as advanced physics lab (326 or Bryn Mawr 331 or 305).

    Two of the six upper-level courses may be replaced by upper-level courses in a related department, with advanced approval from the major advisor. (The student will be asked to prepare a brief written statement explaining the relationship between the proposed courses and the physics major.) One of the six upper-level physics courses may be a 400-level research course. Either 459 or 460 may also be counted among the six upper-level courses.
  4. The department requires one course outside the department at a level consistent with the student's background in either astronomy, biology, computer science, chemistry, or engineering (at Penn or Swarthmore). (This requirement is waived for double majors.)
  5. Physics 399, including a paper and colloquium based on independent work, and attendance at senior colloquia and distinguished lectures hosted by the department.

We strongly recommend that students take Mathematics 215: Linear Algebra before the end of sophomore year.

Link to this tab

Interdisciplinary Physics Major Requirements

Students with multiple academic interests who are not likely to undertake physics graduate study are invited to consider the Interdisciplinary Physics Major, whose slightly abbreviated set of requirements can be completed in three years. This track, which can also facilitate a concentration, an engineering option, or a minor in another department, can be discussed with any member of the Department. The requirements are as follows:

  1. Either Physics 105 & 106, or Physics 101 & 102 or Physics 115 & 106.
  2. Physics 213 & 214 & 211 (our sophomore lecture course sequence and one sophomore-level laboratory course).
  3. Either Math 121 or Math 216 and Math 215 (linear algebra).
  4. Three 300-level physics lecture courses, of which two are drawn from this list of core courses: 302, 303, 308, 309
  5. An upper-level laboratory course in the natural or applied sciences, such as Physics 301, or 326, Bryn Mawr Physics 305 or 331, Biology 300a or b, or Chemistry 301 or 302 . (Alternately, the student can request the substitution of an advanced laboratory course in another area of science or applied science.)
  6. Two other courses at the 200-level or higher in a related field that are part of a coherent program to be proposed by the student and approved by the major advisor.
  7. Senior Seminar (Physics 399) and the associated senior talk and thesis.

We strongly recommend that students take Mathematics 215: Linear Algebra before the end of sophomore year.

The interdisciplinary major differs from the traditional physics major by offering more flexible course choices and by coordinating the physics courses with the student’s work in another field. In the version requiring the fewest physics courses, this major requires 8.5 instead of 10 physics courses, while both majors require 2 math courses, and 3 courses in a related field.

Link to this tab

Astronomy Major Requirements

  1. Physics 105 (or 101 or 115), Physics 106 (or 102), Physics 213, Physics 214.
  2. Two mathematics courses; Mathematics 121 and all 200 level or higher mathematics courses can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  3. Astronomy 205, Astronomy 206, four 300-level astronomy courses, one of which may be replaced by an upper-level physics course.
  4. Astronomy 404, which may be replaced by approved independent research either at Haverford or elsewhere.
  5. Written comprehensive examinations.

Bryn Mawr equivalents may be substituted for the non-astronomy courses. Astronomy/Physics 152 is recommended but not required.

Link to this tab

Astrophysics Major Requirements

  1. Physics 105 (or 115 or 101), Physics 106 (or 102), Physics 213, Physics 214, Physics 211 (usually taken concurrently with Physics 213).
  2. Two mathematics courses. Mathematics 121 and all 200 level or higher mathematics courses can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  3. Astronomy 205, Astronomy 206, and any two 300 level astronomy courses.
  4. Physics 302, Physics 303, and Physics 309.
  5. The Senior Seminar, Physics 399, including a talk and senior thesis on research conducted by the student. This research can be undertaken in a 400-level research course with any member of the Physics or Astronomy departments or by doing extracurricular research at Haverford or elsewhere, e.g., an approved summer research internship at another institution. The thesis is to be written under the supervision of both the research advisor and a Haverford advisor if the research advisor is not a Haverford faculty member.

Bryn Mawr equivalents may be substituted for the non-astronomy courses. Astronomy/Physics 152 and Physics 308 are recommended but not required.

Link to this tab

Honors

Physics Requirements for Honors

The award of Honors in Physics is based upon the quality of performance in course work and the senior colloquium and paper. High Honors carries the additional requirement of demonstrated originality in senior research.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Requirements for Honors

All astronomy and astrophysics majors are regarded as candidates for Honors. For both majors, the award of Honors will be made in part on the basis of superior work in the departmental courses and in certain related courses. For astronomy majors, the award of Honors will additionally be based on performance on the comprehensive examinations, with consideration given for independent research. For astrophysics majors, the award of Honors will additionally be based on the senior thesis and talk.