This page will help students navigate the new physics curriculum, including how to identify an appropriate introductory course.

Introductory Course Advising Physics Major Advising

Introductory Course Advising

Students considering the physics major should take PHYS 0109 (Introductory Mechanics) as their first physics course, when offered.  Non-majors typically start with either PHYS 0108 (The Physics of Motion) or PHYS 0109, depending on their physics background as described in the table below. 

Students who entered Middlebury in Fall 2023 or later cannot receive AP credit for a mechanics course (PHYS 0108 or 0109).

advising table image
A screen-reader-friendly version of the table is available here.

Instructions for Reading the Table
Step 1: Determine what math course the math department would like the you to take next using their placement chart
Step 2: Select the column in the following chart that corresponds to that math course.
Step 3: Select the highest level of physics preparation that you achieved down the left-hand side of the chart (gauge how well you did in that course) and select that row.
Step 4: The intersection of these two indicates the physics department’s recommendation for your first-year mechanics course.  Please note that placement does not mean credit on one’s transcript.

Courses for the Physics Major

An outline of the required courses beyond the intro sequence is below.  For a graphical summary of courses in the physics major, jump to the flowchart below.

Sophomore Sequence

After taking the intro courses PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0114 (Electricity and Magnetism), physics students will take the following 200-level sequence.

Fall Semester Spring Semester
PHYS 0214: Relativity & Electromagnetism
(prerequisite PHYS 0114: E&M)
PHYS 0218: Quantum Physics
(prerequisite PHYS 0216: Waves)
PHYS 0216: Waves & Fourier Analysis
(prerequisite PHYS 0109 or 0111, + calc 2)
PHYS 0222: Experimental Physics 1
(prerequisites PHYS 0114: E&M,
PHYS 0216: Waves)

Upper-Level Sequence

In the third year and beyond, students must take PHYS 0321 (Experimental Physics 2) and PHYS 0350 (Statistical Mechanics).  In addition, students must take a minimum of 4 electives, at least one of which must be selected from the “core” electives: PHYS 0301 (Electromagnetic Theory), PHYS 0318 (Quantum Mechanics), and/or PHYS 0330 (Analytical Mechanics).

Senior Work and Honors (not required)

PHYS 0704 (Senior Project) and PHYS 0705 (Senior Thesis) may be taken by permission only and are not required.  Neither is counted as an elective.  Completion of a senior project (PHYS 0704) is one of the requirements to be eligible for honors.

Physics Major Flowchart

Pathways through the Physics Major

Depending on your particular circumstances, there are multiple viable pathways to complete the requirements for the physics major in your four years at Middlebury. We encourage students to seek out advice from a physics professor about course selection, even if you have not yet declared the major.

A typical pathway is shown in the table below.  For other variations, please see the possibilities in this document. Please note that not all elective courses are offered each year, and electives are not always available in winter term.

Example Path Through the Major (Fall start)

(Prerequisite courses are listed in parentheses.)

  Fall Winter Spring
Year 1 PHYS 0109 mechanics
(calc 1)
  PHYS 0114 E&M
(PHYS 0109 + calc 2)
Year 2

PHYS 0214 relativity
(PHYS 0114)

PHYS 0216 waves
(PHYS 0109 + calc 2)


PHYS 0218 quantum
(PHYS 0216)

PHYS 0222 exp. phys. 1
(PHYS 0114, 0216)

Year 3

PHYS 0350 stat. mech.



PHYS 0321 exp. phys. 2
(PHYS 0222)


Year 4 elective   elective

Other Pathways Through the Major

This document details other possible pathways through the major, including for Febs, starting in your second semester, etc. As always, please consult a faculty member of the physics department for advising when choosing courses.

Transition to the New Curriculum


The new physics major differs from the old physics major as follows:

  • PHYS 0212 is replaced by a course on waves and Fourier analysis, PHYS 0216.
  • PHYS 0201 is replaced by a course on relativity, vector calculus, and applications to electromagnetism, PHYS 0214.
  • PHYS 0301 is no longer required for the major (but will count as an elective), and instead PHYS 0350 is required for the major (and will no longer count as an elective).
  • PHYS 0111 is no longer required for the major, and instead a new 200-level laboratory course is required for the major.
  • One 100-level course that is not part of the required sequence (such as PHYS 0111 or PHYS 0155) can count toward the major as an elective if taken in your first three semesters of college.
  • An additional elective at the 0200+ level is required, and at least one elective course must be chosen from PHYS 0301, PHYS 0330, or PHYS 0318.
  • PHYS 0704 is no longer required for the major, but is required to be eligible for departmental honors.
  • We will now offer two introductory mechanics courses, PHYS 0108 and PHYS 0109, to be selected based on students’ prior physics experience; both count toward the physics major requirement.
  • AP credit can no longer be used to place out of introductory mechanics.


Course Names and Numbering

As we transition to the new curriculum, you might see both new and old course numbers and names appear. 

Course Old Number New Number
The Physics of Motion new 108
Introduction to Mechanics 109 109 (same)
Optics, Waves, and Thermodynamics 111 111 (same)
Electricity & Magnetism 110 114
Relativity & Electromagnetism 201 214
Waves & Fourier Analysis 212 216
Quantum Physics 202 218
Experimental Physics 1 new 222
Introduction to Astrophysics 255 255 (same)
Quantum Mechanics 401 318