General information.

This page provides information about courses that are needed in order to receive a BS degree in Physics. If there are any questions, please e-mail them to

The BS program in Physics is nominally a four year program. In the last two years, students take courses that study aspects of physics in great detail. The main undergraduate page, undergraduate-programs, gives a description of the characteristics of our program. To start the junior year in the Physics program, a student should have finished all preparatory courses in physics, mathematics, and chemistry. The sample program shows a possible path through the curriculum for students who are able to start Mth 251, Differential Calculus, in their first term. The old sample program shows a possible path through the curriculum for students who did paradigms before 2016-2017.The transition sample program shows a possible path through the curriculum for students in paradigms during 2016-2017.


Your high-school background should include math at least through pre-calculus. It is helpful if you complete chemistry and physics courses in high school, but they are not required. You will probably find the material in your first-year chemistry and physics classes more familiar if you have taken the courses in high school, but you shouldn't hesitate to take these university courses even if you lack the high school background. Your math background is much more important; you should be ready to start calculus (Mth 251) at the beginning of your freshman year. However, if you must complete one term of math (Mth 112) before starting calculus you can do so without delaying your physics curriculum; if more than one term of pre-calculus math is needed, it might delay your entry into the physics curriculum. If you lack an adequate math background, you will find it helpful to use the summer before you start at OSU to strengthen your background, perhaps by taking courses at your local community college. Placement in the math courses is governed by the ALEKS placement test.

Degrees offered

B.S. in Physics: The B.S. is appropriate for those interested in careers in physics or a related area or in preparing for graduate study. The B.S. in Physics is the degree program described in this handout.

B.S. in Physics with Option: Several degree allow students the opportunity to specialize in a related field. Under these options, available only with the B.S. degree, several physics courses are waived, and in their place the student must complete a selection of courses from the related field. To graduate under one of these options, the student must have a plan of study approved in advance by a departmental advisor. Completion of the option is indicated on the student's transcript, which will read "Awarded Bachelor of Science in Physics with Option in...." The options presently available are:

Applied physics


Biological physics

Mathematical physics

Chemical physics

Optical physics

Computational physics 

Physics education

For information about the requirements for these options, see the OSU General Catalog and consult with a departmental advisor.

B.A. in Physics: The B.A. degree requires fewer physics courses but more courses from the College of Liberal Arts; in addition, second-year proficiency in a foreign language is required for the B.A. degree. There is no foreign language requirement for the B.S. degree.

Accelerated Master's Platform in Physics: The Accelerated Master’s Platform (AMP) in Physics allows current OSU Physics majors to take graduate classes in Physics, apply those credits to their current undergraduate degree, and also transfer them to the MS graduate program at OSU. Up to twelve graduate credits will count towards a bachelor's degree and transfer to the Physics Master's program. With careful planning, students could complete a master’s degree within 1 year of finishing their bachelor's degree.

Degree requirements

University requirements are summarized in the Schedule of Classes and the General Catalog. You should check in particular the grade-point-averages required to remain in good standing and to graduate. No required physics or math course may be taken under S-U grading. A grade of D (including D+) is not acceptable in any required Physics course. A required physics course in which a D grade is received may not be used to satisfy the requirements of the Physics major, although the course may satisfy College or University degree requirements. If a grade of D is received in a required Physics course, the student must repeat the course until a satisfactory grade is received. In exceptional circumstances, petitions for waiver of this requirement may be submitted to the Physics advisor for consideration by the advisor and the Department Chair. In addition, math and chemistry require grades in prereq courses to be a C- or better.

You must satisfy the requirements of the Baccalaureate Core. See the General Catalog for details. Note that the physical science requirement can be satisfied by either your introductory physics course (PH 211, 212, 213) or chemistry course (CH 221, 222, 223). It is not necessary to complete another physical science course for the Baccalaureate Core (although you may do so if you wish). You must, however, complete at least one term of biological science; this is required by both the Baccalaureate Core and the College of Science.

In order to satisfy the Writing Intensive Course (WIC) requirement of the OSU Baccalaureate Core, Physics and Computational Physics majors are required to write a senior thesis on a research project. Students must enroll in PH 403 (Thesis) for one credit in each of the three terms of the senior year (or the year of graduation, for those in a five-year program). The three total credits satisfy the OSU WIC requirement.  PH403 meets weekly. For more information, please visit the WIC Thesis Information page.

Transfer students

Students who intend to transfer to OSU from another institution should arrange to speak with the physics head advisor at the earliest possible time. Community college transfers should speak with the head advisor before planning the community college curriculum, if possible.

Minor in Physics

Students who complete introductory physics through Ph 315 have the option to complete a minor in physics with only 12 additional credits of upper-division physics. Minors are designed primarily for majors in other disciplines; courses required for a student's major may not count toward the minor.

For the physics minor, a minimum of 28 credit hours in physics is required, distributed as follows:

a) 16 credit hours of introductory physics - Ph 211, 212, 213, 315.

b) At least 12 credit hours of upper division courses selected in consultation with the Physics Department head advisor. The head adviser will update MyDegrees to list the courses agreed upon.

Students who complete the requirements for the physics minor should apply for certification at the same time the final application for a degree is made. The Registrar's Office will make the request for certification from the Physics Department and the College of Science. The completion of the minor is recorded on the student's academic record and transcripts.