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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Program of Study Questions

  1. You have a passion for exploring the mysteries of the universe.
  2. You like to challenge yourself, solve problems and puzzles, and want to contribute to human understanding.
  3. You seek an environment where you can pursue your passion with other like-minded students, and maybe even help teach others. Physics is a social endeavor!
  4. You want the chance to do research. At Utah’s flagship research institution, ambitious Physics & Astronomy majors have the opportunity to do work at the leading edge of science and publish and present their results.
  5. You are interested in graduate school in Physics or Astronomy or other professional graduate programs. Surveys show that Physics majors achieve among the highest scores on both MCAT (medical school) and LSAT (law school) exams.
  6. You are interested in gaining highly-sought technical expertise in areas such as computation, problem solving, numeracy, analysis, and data science, and applying these skills to solving real-world problems.
  7. You want a useful degree from a well-regarded program on your resume as you set out to make your impact on the world.

A. The best high school preparation is to take all mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer, biology and English classes available.

A. We offer five different undergraduate majors: Physics, Applied Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biomedical Physics, and Physics Teaching. We also offer three minors: Physics, Astronomy, and Physics Teaching. Requirements for all our programs are also listed in our Undergraduate Handbook (PDF), along with a lot of other useful advice. 

A. Requirements for all our programs are listed in our Undergraduate Handbook (PDF), along with a lot of other useful advice. 
A. We offer 3 different minors for students: the physics teaching minor, the physics minor, and the astronomy minor.  The requirements for all 3 programs are listed in our Undergraduate Handbook (PDF)

A. You should declare your major within your first two years of your program so you can meet with your advisor and make sure you are on track to graduate. We also reach out to our declared majors with internship opportunities, scholarships, and other resources you will want to know.

To declare your major or minor, you will need to make an appointment with an undergraduate advisor.  You can make an appointment with the academic advisor through Cranium Cafe, by dropping in during drop-in hours, or by e-mail.

A. You are not required to declare a minor. Minors are a supplement to your major, or are an area of interest to the student, but doesn’t have time to complete the major.

Popular minors among physics students are math, computer science, nuclear engineering, chemistry, philosophy, music, and language. The possibilities are endless!

A.  Very few classes are offered year-round, and most of these are introductory classes.  Most of the lower and middle division classes are offered both fall and spring.  Most of the upper division course work is only offered once a year.  Information on specific classes is found in the Undergraduate Handbook (PDF).

A. There are department tutors listed on our site, the Learning Center has tutors available, and depending on your course, there may be Supplemental Instruction or Help Labs attached. Check your course syllabus for this information.


Registration Questions

 A. If the course is full, you will need to obtain a permission code from the department before you are allowed into the class. You can request one here

 A. For most classes, you will need to either email the professor teaching that course, or go the first day of class and ask the professor for permission to enroll. You will then fill out a permission code request form here

 A.  You will need to make an appointment with your advisor.You can make an appointment with the academic advisor through Cranium Cafe, by dropping in during drop-in hours, or by e-mail.

 A. It is not required, but it is recommended. The labs provide a hands-on opportunity for you to experience what you are learning about in class.

A. A score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Physics B exam will provide up to six semester hours of credit, a score of 4 or 5 will waive Physics 2010 and 2020 with department approval.

A score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Physics 1 exam will provide up to 4 semester hours of credit, a score of 4 or 5 will waive Physics 2010 with department approval. 

A score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Physics 2 exam will provide up to 4 semester hours of credit, a score of 4 or 5 will waive Physics 2020 with department approval. 

A score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Physics C Mechanics Test will give 3 semester hours of credit, and a score of 4 or 5 should waive Physics 2210 with department approval.

A score of 3, 4 or 5 on the Physics AP C Electricity Magnetism Exam will give 3 semester hours of credit, and a 4 or 5 will give exemption from Physics 2220 with department approval. Students with a score of 3, 4 or 5 should consider taking Physics 3210 and 3220. 

If you have questions about your score, you should make an appointment with an undergraduate advisor. 

 A. The sooner the better. Nearly every physics course has a mathematical prerequisite. Failure to adhere to the prerequisites will lead to difficulties in the course.

A. If you are a student, faculty or staff member at the University of Utah, point your web browser to the Campus Information System (http://cis.utah.edu), and log in with your uNID/password. On your student tab, look in the box marked “Registration” for a link called “Student Course Evaluations Results”. On the Employee Tab, this link is called “Student Accessible Results” and is located in the box marked “Student Course Evaluations”.

Opportunities and Resources

A. There are lots of ways to get involved as an undergraduate student! 

Society of Physics Students

Undergraduate Student Advisory Council

Women in Physics and Astronomy (WomPA)

AstronomUrs

Click here for other opportunities to get involved with outreach on campus and in the community.

A. Many of the professors in the department are passionate about undergraduate research: They will hire undergraduates in their labs.  They will include funding for undergraduate research in their grant proposals.  They might not have funding, but they will happily work with undergraduates passionate about the research.  All of these professors will work with students interested in applying for funding and prestige from the UROP program.  To find out about research opportunities, go talk to a professor!  In addition, we have funding from the REU program that undergraduates can apply for. 

A. There are internships, undergraduate research opportunities, and additional resources for both available on our website.

 

A. Nearly anything. Students who graduate in physics go on to careers in business, industry, technology, and for the government.

A. The best path for students interested in astronomy or astrophysics is to get a physics degree with an astronomy and astrophysics emphasis.  This will make you well qualified to attend graduate school in astronomy.

 

Q. Who can I ask if I can't find my question answered here?

A. Give us a call at 801-581-6901, or send an email to an undergraduate advisor at uadvising@physics.utah.edu.

Last Updated: 9/28/20