A Physics Major's Courseload

The purpose of this page is to show how different (or similar) a course load is between physics students. Here you can learn what other students have done with all the different opportunities at Rutgers and even contact them if you’d like any advice. If you’d like to volunteer your course information and help out this article then please email us.

Thanks to the following people for contributing their schedules (since 2005):

  1. Joey Reichert
  2. Brian Coopersmith
  3. David Kolchmeyer

Name:

Joey Reichert

College:

School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2013

Majors:

Physics and Math

Career Interests:

I’m planning to pursue my PhD in physics starting in the fall. I’ll update this once I make a decision about where.

Comments:

I came in with 30 credits, which took care of a few gen eds and helped me to get into some of the math classes as a freshman / sophomore (especially Math Reasoning, History of Math, Linear Algebra, etc., which all fill up quickly). I also was in the Honors Program, so some of my courses were from there. I was basically done with my majors by the start of my senior year, giving me time to take a few fun/useful classes, which was nice (though it was still work!).

Courses:

1st Semester

  1. Honors Physics I (750:271)
  2. Classical Physics Lab I (750:275)
  3. Honors Calc II (640:192)
  4. Intro to Labor Studies (575:100)
  5. Byrne Seminar: Math of Waves (090:101)
  6. Honors Colloquium (090:111)

2nd Semester

  1. Honors Physics II (750:272)
  2. Classical Physics Lab I (750:276)
  3. Honors Calc III (640:291)
  4. Intro to Math Reasoning (640:300)
  5. Intro to Linear Algebra (640:250)
  6. Intro to Computer Science (198:111)

3rd Semester

  1. Honors Physics III (750:273)
  2. Computer Based Experimentation (750:326)
  3. Mechanics I (750:381)
  4. Elem. Diff. Equations (640:252)
  5. World Cultural Regions (450:205)

4th Semester

  1. Modern Instrumentation (750:327)
  2. Thermal Physics (750:351)
  3. Mechanics II (750:382)
  4. Linear Algebra (640:350)
  5. History of Math (640:436)
  6. Intro to Music Theory (online) (700:103)

5th Semester

  1. Quantum and Atomic Physics (750:361)
  2. Electromagnetism I (750:385)
  3. Experimental Modern Physics (750:387)
  4. Advanced Calc for Engineers (640:421)
  5. Special Topics: Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (556:325)
  6. Honors Seminar: Extraterrestrial Life (090:256)

6th Semester

  1. Electromagnetism II (750:386)
  2. Experimental Modern Physics (750:388)
  3. Nuclei and Particles (750:418)
  4. Advanced Calc I (640:311)
  5. Intro to Complex Variables (640:403)

7th Semester

  1. Intro to Cosmology (750:444)
  2. Honors in Physics (750:495)
  3. Graduate Quantum Mechanics I (750:501)
  4. Combinatorial Theory (640:454)

8th Semester

  1. Honors in Physics (750:496)
  2. Graduate Quantum Mechanics II (750:502)
  3. Graduate Experimental Math (640:640)
  4. Data Structures (198:112)

Name:

Brian Coopersmith

College:

School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2013

Majors:

Physics and Math

Career Interests:

Heading to the University of Rochester this fall to do High Energy Experimentation.

Comments:

I came in with a bunch of AP credits, which helped a lot with gen ed requirements and allowed me to start in Calc II. I didn’t decide I wanted to be a physics major until near the end of my first semester, so I wasn’t able to do the honors physics track, and instead studied over winter break and tested out of analytical physics Ia and took Ib in my second semester. I managed to satisfy the prereqs to take E&M in my third semester because of starting in calc II. This class was very difficult, having only ever taken the one physics class before (hadn’t even taken physics in high school), but with a lot of work I did manage to do very well in the class. Not sure if I’d recommend this, though it did make my last two years a lot easier. I also skipped over 361 and went straight to 417 in my fifth semester- I didn’t find this at all difficult, 417 is taught straight from the beginning of the Griffiths book, which teaches you everything you need to know. This was very useful preparation for the GRE.
By the end of my sixth semester I had finished my physics major and was almost done with my math major. I decided to take some Computer Science courses and get a minor in it, as I had always been very interested in it, and it also has a lot of applications in experimental physics. I actually skipped over a ton of prerequisites for all the courses (I only had credit for CS 111 from an AP test)- I went and talked to the professors and convinced them I knew enough to take the upper level courses. I strongly recommend this for anyone who is interested and proficient in computing- I learned a lot of cool stuff.

Courses:

1st Semester

  1. Astronomy & Cosmology 750:109
  2. Calc II Math/Phys 640:152
  3. Intermediate German 470:131
  4. Honors Seminar: Science and Life of Einstein
  5. Byrne Seminar
  6. General Psychology (830:101)

2nd Semester

  1. Astronomy & Cosmology 750:110
  2. Multivariable Calc 640:251
  3. Intro Linear Algebra 640:250
  4. Intermediate German 470:132
  5. Honors Colloquium
  6. Analytical Physics I 750:124

3rd Semester

  1. Honors Colloquium
  2. Electromagnetism 750:385
  3. Mechanics 750:381
  4. Analytical Physics II Lab 750:229
  5. Analytical Physics II 750:227
  6. Intro Math Reasoning 640:300
  7. Elem Diff Equations 640:252

4th Semester

  1. Mechanics 750:382
  2. Thermal Physics 750:351
  3. Analytical Physics II Lab 750:228
  4. Math Logic 640:461
  5. Seminar in Math II 640:196
  6. Electromagnetism 750:386

5th Semester

  1. Math Analysis I 640:411
  2. Elem. Partial Differential Equations 640:423
  3. Intermediate Quantum Mechanics 640:417
  4. Experimental Modern Physics 750:387
  5. Computer Based Experimentation 750:326
  6. Math Seminar 640:491

6th Semester

  1. Modern Instrumentation 750:327
  2. Honors Seminar: Plastic World
  3. Experimental Modern Physics 750:388
  4. Nuclei and Particles 750:418
  5. Symphony Band 701:344

7th Semester

  1. Internet Technology 198:352
  2. Intro Artifical Inteligence 198:440
  3. Linear Algebra 640:350
  4. Math Theory Probability 640:477
  5. Honors in Physics 750:495

8th Semester

  1. Operating System Design 198:416
  2. Compilers 198:415
  3. Linear Optimization 640:354
  4. Honors in Physics 750:496
  5. History of Math 640:436

Name:

David Kolchmeyer

College:

School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2014

Majors:

Physics (and Math?)

Career Interests:

I plan to attend a PhD program in high energy physics.

Comments:

I came in with AP Physics C credit, so I started with Physics III. During my 2nd semester I took Math 292 (Hon Calc IV) which was a really interesting class, but it was very abstract and not very practical. I ended up forgetting the theory and teaching myself how to solve basic differential equations the following summer. During that summer, I spent a lot of quality time with the book “Basic Training in Mathematics: A Fitness Program for Science Students” by Shankar. Because of that book, I was ready to take Intermediate Quantum Mechanics as a sophomore without the listed prerequisite (361). The Shankar book also covered most of the material for 423. In Spring 2012, I took Complex Variables which was a lot of fun!! Earlier this year, I took graduate courses which I highly enjoyed. In particular, grad Quantum I is quite accessible, and it follows its textbook (again by Shankar) very closely. Grad Classical Mechanics was definitely harder but was a lot of fun. If you have any questions about any of the classes below feel free to ask me!

Courses:

1st Semester

  1. Byrne Seminar: Quantum Mysteries
  2. Honors Colloquium
  3. Intro to Microeconomics
  4. Honors Calc III (291)
  5. Intro Math Reasoning (300H)
  6. Honors Physics III

2nd Semester

  1. Arab-Israeli Conflict
  2. Freshman-Sophomore Math Seminar (196)
  3. Honors Calc IV (292)
  4. Thermal Physics
  5. Ind. Study in Political Science
  6. Advanced Calculus II (312)

3rd Semester

  1. Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
  2. Partial Differential Equations (423)
  3. Computer Based Experimentation
  4. Mechanics I
  5. E&M I
  6. Intermediate Quantum Mechanics

4th Semester

  1. Complex Variables(403)
  2. Modern Instrumentation
  3. Mechanics II
  4. E&M II
  5. Nuclei and Particles

5th Semester

  1. Honors Seminar: Quantum Mechanics, Probability, Space, and Time
  2. Experimental Modern Physics
  3. Graduate Quantum Mechanics I
  4. Graduate Classical Mechanics

6th Semester

  1. Differential Geometry(432)
  2. Current Moral and Social Issues (Philosophy 106)
  3. Experimental Modern Physics
  4. Graduate Quantum Mechanics II

7th Semester

  1. Hebrew Review and Continuation
  2. Overview of Quantum Field Theory

8th Semester

  1. Biophysics
  2. Solid State Physics
  3. Fields I

The following course loads are from 2005. We are working on getting more recent course loads!

Name:

Daniel Garcia

College:

Rutgers College

Majors:

BS in Astrophysics and Computer Science

Career Interests:

I’m currently in the process of applying to graduate school for Physics, hopefully to start next fall. I have not decided on my future beyond attaining a PhD in Physics.

Comments:

Some notes worth keeping in mind about my course load. I entered school with credit for Calculus I and Expository Writing I. I also started as a member of the School of Engineering, but transfered to Rutgers College after my first semester. I then went through a period where I vascillated between Physics and Computer Science, before deciding on Computer Science in my 5th semester. After taking the first Principles of Astrophysics course, I was convinced to double major, and that’s where I am right now.

Courses:

1st Semester

  1. General Chemistry for Engineers
  2. Introduction to Experimentation
  3. Introduction to Geography
  4. Calculus II for Math and Physics
  5. Analytical Physics IA
  6. Introduction to Computers for Engineers

2nd Semester

  1. Introduction to Computer Science
  2. Age of European Global Expansion
  3. Multivariable Calculus
  4. Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
  5. Analytical Physics IB

3rd Semester

  1. Data Structures
  2. Introduction to Microeconomics
  3. Technical Writing Essentials
  4. Introduction to Linear Algebra
  5. Analytical Physics IIA
  6. Analytical Physics IIA Lab

4th Semester

  1. Introduction to Discrete Structures I
  2. Computer Architecture
  3. Numerical Analysis and Computing
  4. Space, Place, and Location
  5. Analytical Physics IIB
  6. Analytical Physics IIB Lab

5th Semester

  1. Introduction to Discrete Structures II
  2. Principles of Programming Languages
  3. Internet Technology
  4. Philosophical Ideas in Science Fiction
  5. Principles of Astrophysics I

6th Semester

  1. Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms
  2. Compilers
  3. Operating Systems Design
  4. Elementary Differential Equations
  5. Principles of Astrophysics II

7th Semester

  1. Distributed Systems
  2. Elementary Partial Differential Equations
  3. Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics
  4. Mechanics I
  5. Electromagnetism I

8th Semester

  1. Principles of Information and Data Management
  2. Formal Languages and Automata
  3. Thermal Physics
  4. Mechanics II
  5. Electromagnetism II

9th Semester (Current)

  1. Introduction to Computer Graphics
  2. Introduction to Linguistic Theory
  3. Observational Radio Astronomy
  4. Intermediate Quantum Mechanics
  5. High Energy Astrophysics

10th Semester (Anticipated / Guesstimated)

  1. Observational Optical Astronomy
  2. Stars and Star Formation
  3. + 2 or 3 Physics / CS Electives

Name:

Pablo Mosteiro

Note From Pablo:

Here I think it could be pretty useful, since I was a double major my first two years. So I’ll give my information for the first two years and the plan I would have followed this semester had I continued with it.

College:

School of Engineering

Major:

Biochemical Engineering and Physics

Career Interests:

Research in Chemical Engineering in industry

Courses:

1st semester

  1. Intro to Art History 106
  2. Honors Intro to Engineering 191
  3. Intro Computers for Engineers 127
  4. General Chemistry for Engineers 159
  5. Calculus I Math/Physics 151
  6. Honors Physics 1 271
  7. Classical Physics Lab 275

2nd semester

  1. Intro to Music Theory 103
  2. Intro to Experimentation 171
  3. Exposition and Argument 103
  4. General Chemistry for Engineers 160
  5. Calculus II Math/Physics 152
  6. Honors Physics 2 272
  7. Classical Physics Lab 276
  8. Seminar in Mathematics II 196

3rd semester

  1. Honors Engineering Mechanics: Statics 291
  2. Honors Calculus 3 291
  3. Honors Physics 3 273
  4. Chemical Analysis 1 201
  5. Organic Chemistry 307

4th semester

  1. Honors Calculus 4 292
  2. Thermal Physics 351
  3. Modern Instrumentation 327
  4. Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics 207
  5. Organic Chemistry 308
  6. Economic Principles and Problems 200

Originally planned 5th semester

  1. Advanced Calculus for Engineers 421
  2. Computer-Based Experimentation 326
  3. Transport Phenomena 303
  4. Chemical Analysis 2 307
  5. General Microbiology 390
  6. Physical Chemistry: Biochemical Systems 341

Then I changed to:

Major:

Physics

Minor:

Undecided (probably Math)

Actual 5th semester

  1. Advanced Calculus for Engineers 421
  2. Mechanics 381
  3. Electromagnetism 385
  4. Experimental Modern Physics 387
  5. Quantum and Atomic Physics 361

Final Comments:

My course load was always a little tough in Engineering but I enjoyed it. However, I discovered I didn’t like it when I went into Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, so I decided to go for what I really liked: Physics

Name:

Katy Goodman

College:

Livingston

Major:

BS Applied Physics, 5 Year Masters in Education

Minor:

Astronomy

Career Interests:

Physics Education

Courses:

Summer Session 2003:

  1. Astronomy 110

Fall Semester 2003:

  1. General Physics 203
  2. General Physics Lab 205
  3. Calculus (1) 151
  4. Astronomy 109

Spring Semester 2004:

  1. General Physics 204
  2. General Physics Lab 206
  3. Calculus (2) 152
  4. Great Ideas in Physics 296
  5. Statistics for Business 285

Fall Semester 2004:

  1. Advanced General Physics 323
  2. Modern Physics 313
  3. Calculus (3) 251
  4. Psychology 101

Winter Session 2004/2005:

  1. Philosophy 103

Spring Semester 2005:

  1. Advanced General Physics 324
  2. Modern Instrumentation Lab 327
  3. Linear Algebra 250
  4. Philosophy of Physics 426

Summer Session 2005:

  1. Calculus (4) (for Physics/Engineers) 244
  2. Sociology of Women 216

Fall Semester 2005:

  1. Optics 305
  2. Astrophysics 341
  3. Computer Based Experimentation Lab 326
  4. General Chemistry (1) 161
  5. EDU-Exploring Teaching as a Profession 200

Name:

Eric Lee

Majors:

Physics, Economics

Career Interests:

Undecided

Courses:

1ST SEMESTER

  1. Honors Physics 3
  2. Honors Calc 3
  3. Money & Banking
  4. Expos

2ND SEMESTER

  1. Thermal Physics
  2. Intro to Linear Algebra
  3. Diff Eq for physics and engineering
  4. Stats for Business
  5. Intermediate Macro
  6. Intermediate Micro

Name:

Javier D. Sanchez

Majors:

Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science

Career Interests:

Research somewhere between Physics and Comp Sci

Courses taken:

1st semester

  1. Hon Physics 3
  2. Intro Linear Algebra
  3. Hon Calc III
  4. Japanese 101

2nd semester

  1. Thermal Physics
  2. Hon Calc IV
  3. Intro Math Reasoning
  4. Hon Seminar in Mathematics
  5. Intro to Comp Sci

Comments:

I found my first semester pretty easy. Hon Physics 3 is not very concept intensive and Intro Linear Algebra is a joke. 2nd semester was a lot harder with Thermal Physics and Intro to Math Reasoning. Intro to Comp sci can be also hard if you’ve never done computer programming before.

Name:

Joe Wolf

Major/Minor:

Astrophysics/Mathematics

Career Interests:

Researcher and Professor in physics (probably cosmology)

Classes:

1st semester:

  1. Honors Physics 1
  2. Honors Calc 3
  3. Intro to Astronomy & Cosmology
  4. Expos

2nd Semester:

  1. Honors Physics 2
  2. Honors Calc 4
  3. Intro Linear Algebra
  4. Intro to Logic (Phil dept)
  5. Intro to Logic, Reasoning, Pers

3rd Semester:

  1. Observational Radio Astronomy
  2. Principles Astrophysics
  3. Honors Physics 3
  4. Mechanics
  5. Partial Diff Eq (dropped half-way through)

4th Semester:

  1. Principles Astrophysics
  2. Mechanics
  3. Thermal Physics
  4. Intro to Complex Variables
  5. Intro to Mathematical Reasoning (Math 300)

Planned 5th semester:

  1. Optics
  2. Quantum Mechanics & Atomic Physics
  3. E&M
  4. Adv Calc for Eng.