The major program depends to some extent on the student’s goals, which should be discussed with the department. Those who intend to do graduate work in physics or an allied field should plan to do an honors project. For those considering a program in engineering, consult the section on Special Academic Programs. A major with an interest in an interdisciplinary area such as geophysics, biophysics, or oceanography will choose appropriate courses in related departments. Secondary school teaching requires a broad base in science courses, as well as the necessary courses for teacher certification. For a career in industrial management, some courses in economics and government should be included. Courses that will count toward the major or minor must be taken on a graded basis (not Credit/D/Fail).
Requirements for the Major in Physics
A student majoring in physics is expected to complete at least Mathematics 161, 171, Physics 103, 104, 223, 224, 229, one 300-level methods course (Physics 300, 301, or 302), and two additional approved courses higher than 104 (one of which may be Mathematics 181 or higher, or Computer Science 101). At least five physics courses must be taken at Bowdoin.
For honors work, a student is expected to complete Mathematics 181, and Physics 103, 104, 223, 224, 229, 300, 451, and four additional physics courses, three of which must be at the 300 level or above.
Requirements for the Minor in Physics
The minor consists of at least four Bowdoin physics courses numbered 103 or higher, one of which must be Physics 104.
The department participates in an interdisciplinary program in chemical physics. See the section on Interdisciplinary Majors.
The department does not participate in a formal interdisciplinary program with the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science. However, the departments of Physics and Earth and Oceanographic Science have identified major/minor pathways for students majoring in physics with an interest in earth and oceanographic science (physics major/earth and oceanographic science minor) and students majoring in earth and oceanographic science with an interest in physics (earth and oceanographic science major/physics minor). Students pursuing the physics major/earth and oceanographic science minor with interests in the solid earth discipline would be best served by selecting Earth and Oceanographic Science 101, 200, and two of the following earth and oceanographic science courses: 241, 242, 262, 315; those with interests in the surface earth discipline should select Earth and Oceanographic Science 104, 200, and two from 220, 270, 272, 276, 277; those with interests in the oceanography discipline should choose Earth and Oceanographic Science 102, 200, and two from 255, 267, 282.
Students must earn a grade of C- or above in any prerequisite physics course.