The Department of Physics offers undergraduate programs leading to the following degrees:
- BS, Physics
- BS, Physics with Specialization in Astrophysics
- BS, Physics with Specialization in Biophysics
- BS, Physics with Specialization in Computational Physics
- BS, Physics with Specialization in Earth Sciences
- BS, Physics with Specialization in Materials Physics
- BA, General Physics
- BA, General Physics/Secondary Education
The physics major provides a core of basic education in several principal areas of physics, with sufficient flexibility to allow students to prepare either for graduate school or a career in industry. Since in preparing for either goal, more than the required core courses are necessary, it is important for students to meet with a physics department adviser in deciding a schedule.
Because of the large number of students interested in the undergraduate physics program and the limited resources available to accommodate this demand, the university has declared all majors and specializations in the Department of Physics as capped. Students who were not admitted to UC San Diego in a Physics major (or who were admitted as physics majors but subsequently changed to a major outside of the physics department) have the opportunity to apply to a major in Physics during their undergraduate years, provided they meet the application requirements and submit an application to the physics capped major. All eligible students who apply to the physics capped major will be considered; admission into the physics major will be limited based on the number of available seats in our program at the conclusion of the application period. GPA will be used as a metric for admission (if there are more eligible applicants than available seats, a lottery may be used).
In advance of applying, the student must:
- satisfy the requirements and screening courses for their application type
- take each major-related course for a letter-grade, earning a grade of C- or higher
- have minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all screening courses
Application Types, Timelines, and Screening Courses
"Freshman" Students Admitted in Fall 2017
These students can apply to a major in Physics at the conclusion of spring 2018, provided they have completed the required screening courses with qualifying grades. The screening courses are:
- Two UC San Diego lecture courses from Physics 2A-B-C-D or 4A-B-C-D-E
- Three UC San Diego courses from Math 18-20A-20B-20C-20D-20E
Please Note: These students can also apply in fall 2018 or at the conclusion of spring 2019. For 2018-19 we will screen these students using the "All Students Admitted in Fall 2016" criteria and information, below; precise application dates will be announced before the 2018-19 academic year begins.
"Transfer" Students Admitted in Fall 2017
These students can apply to a major in Physics during fall 2017, provided they have completed the required Transfer Major Preparation prior to matriculating to UC San Diego (i.e. prior to the student’s first fall term at the university) and they will have Math 20E complete by the end of fall 2017.
All Students Admitted in Fall 2016
These students can apply to a major in Physics during fall 2017 or at the conclusion of spring 2018, provided they have completed all lower division requirements with qualifying grades.* The screening courses are:
- Physics 2A-B-C-D or 4A-B-C-D-E
- Physics 2CL and 2DL
- Math 18-20A-20B-20C-20D-20E
We will pull GPA from all of the screening courses (at least 4 must have been taken here at UC San Diego).
*Some majors in Physics require lower division chemistry, physics, and/or programming courses. Though we will not screen for GPA in these courses, we do expect students to complete these courses with qualifying grades in advance of applying.
All Students Admitted in Fall 2016
We are open to accepting stellar students who are beyond their second year at UC San Diego if we have room available after fall 2016 and 2017 admits have been considered. These students can apply in fall 2017 or at the conclusion of spring 2018; we will screen these students using the "All Students Admitted in Fall 2016" criteria and information, above. After spring 2018, students admitted to UCSD prior to fall 2016 cannot apply to a physics major.
Capped Major Application and Filing Deadlines
Note the filing deadlines at the link and all of the following information:
- Do not use Tritonlink to request a change of major. You will need to apply through the Capped Major Application process at the link above.
- You can apply to only one physics major/specialization; select the physics major/specialization you are most interested in pursuing and are eligible for based on the application requirements.
- Submit your application once the application opens. Day and time of application submission will be considered when making admission offers.
- Applications will be reviewed after the application cycle closes and term grades have been finalized.
- Once all applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of the outcome via the Virtual Advising Center (VAC).
- If offered admission, you will need to accept the offer by using the link within the VAC acceptance message. You must complete all steps within the acceptance process, by the specified deadline, in order to successfully change your major.
- Students are expected to be aware of the below timelines and deadlines, and to check their @ucsd.edu email account regularly. If offered admission, failure to take action by the specified date and time will result in a rescinded offer.
- Since admission into a Physics major is not guaranteed you are expected to enroll in courses for your current major in addition to completing the application requirements. If you are currently undeclared, please consult with your college for course recommendations.
- Consult Physics Advising with any questions about the physics capped major or the application process.