Physics: Chemical Principles, BA

Physics and astronomy are fundamental sciences aimed at discovering the basic principles that govern our universe. Physicists study the interplay between space, time, matter, and energy. Complex behavior in nature is explained in terms of elementary relations between constituent elements and the forces that bind them, over distances ranging from subatomic to cosmic scale. Astronomy encompasses the entire physical universe beyond the earth: the solar system, stars, galaxies, galaxy clusters and superclusters, quasars, and the large-scale structure of the universe. The basic tools in physics and astronomy are mathematics and experimental investigation and observation of the world around us.

At Penn, the curriculum for undergraduate Physics majors, which includes extensive laboratory experience, is based on faculty strengths in Condensed Matter Physics, Elementary Particle Physics, and Astrophysics. Undergraduate teaching is linked to faculty research efforts in these areas, and participation by undergraduates in research is strongly encouraged.

This concentration is particularly appropriate for students planning to enter the health professions. Such students should be aware that, although not part of the concentration requirements, laboratories in general and organic chemistry and lecture and laboratory work in biology are generally required by professional schools in the health area. The concentration may also be appropriate for other students pursuing double majors in Physics and Chemistry or Biochemistry.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 36. Double majors may entail more course units.

Note: For Biology concentration, see Biophysics track outlined below.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives17.5
Major Requirements
Core Requirements
MATH 1400Calculus, Part I1
MATH 1410Calculus, Part II1
MATH 2400Calculus, Part III1
MATH 2410Calculus, Part IV1
PHYS 1230Principles of Physics III: Vibrations and Waves, Special Relativity, and Thermal Physics1
PHYS 1250Principles of Physics IV: Modern Physics1.5
PHYS 3351Analytical Mechanics1
PHYS 3361Electromagnetism I: Electricity and Potential Theory1
PHYS 3362Electromagnetism II: Magnetism, Maxwell's Equations, and Electromagnetic Waves1
PHYS 4411Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I1
PHYS 0150Principles of Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion1.5
or PHYS 0170 Honors Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion
PHYS 0151Principles of Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation1.5
or PHYS 0171 Honors Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Concentration Requirements
Select one of the following Concentrations:5
Chemical Principles Concentration:
Introduction to General Chemistry I
Introduction to General Chemistry II
Physical Chemistry I
and Physical Chemistry II
Principles of Organic Chemistry I
and Principles of Organic Chemistry II
Thermodynamics and the Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Kinetic Theory
Biology Concentration: Biophysics Track Requirements:
Introduction to Biology - The Molecular Biology of Life
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Physical Models of Biological Systems
Total Course Units36

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 in major-related courses.

PHYS 4498Senior Honor Thesis (Semester 1)1
PHYS 4498Senior Honor Thesis (Semester 2)1
Thesis Accepted


The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2024 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.