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).
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.
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
(prerequisite PHYS 0114: E&M,
corequisite PHYS 0218: Quantum)
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.
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)
|Year 1||PHYS 0109 mechanics
|PHYS 0114 E&M
(PHYS 0109 + calc 2)
PHYS 0214 relativity
PHYS 0216 waves
PHYS 0218 quantum
PHYS 0222 exp. phys. 1
PHYS 0350 stat. mech.
PHYS 0321 exp. phys. 2
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|
|Experimental Physics 1||new||222|
|Introduction to Astrophysics||255||255 (same)|