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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
Broida Hall 3019
Telephone: (805) 893-4567
Department Chair: Claudio Campagnari


The physics major provides the foundation for careers in basic and applied physics; in interdisciplinary areas such as astronomy, biophysics, environmental science, oceanography, and scientific instrumentation; and in economics, law, and medicine.

The Department of Physics offers undergraduate programs leading to the B.S. or the B.A. degree, a minor in astronomy and planetary science, and a minor in physics. It also offers a graduate program leading to a Ph.D. in physics. The Bachelor of Science degree requires a number of electives which may be taken according to the particular aims of the student, after consultation with a faculty advisor. It is designed to provide basic preparation for graduate school in physics, another physical science, or engineering, and for work in industry or a research laboratory. The Bachelor of Arts degree aims at providing students with a basic knowledge of the physical sciences that can be applied to a career in the natural or behavioral sciences, economics, or to further study in a professional school.

Students are assigned faculty advisors at the beginning of each academic year; it is the student’s responsibility to meet with the advisor to plan a major program. Transfer students must consult with the appropriate advisor as soon as possible.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in physics who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible.

Research Opportunities

Information regarding research opportunities is available by visiting the website at: This site lists the faculty and their current research.

Prizes and Awards

The Arnold T. Nordsieck Memorial Prize is awarded each year to an outstanding senior who has demonstrated notable promise in research.

An Outstanding Senior and an Outstanding Teaching Assistant prize is awarded annually.

The John Cardy Award is given each year to a first-year graduate student with the strongest performance in the core graduate courses.

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate advising. Prior to registration for the fall quarter each year, all physics majors must make an appointment with the appropriate faculty advisor. The advisors’ names may be obtained at the Department of Physics, Broida Hall 3019C, or by calling (805) 893-4567. Before meeting with the advisor, each student must pick up the appropriate B.S./B.A. advising form from the department office. One copy of the form will be given to the student for future reference; a second copy will remain on file in the department office.

Physics Honors

The department provides special opportunities for highly motivated and successful students at both the lower- and upper-division levels, primarily through active involvement in the department’s research program. Outstanding sophomores are encouraged to take the Honors Laboratory sequence, Physics 13AH, 13BH, and 13CH, that is designed to aid students in making the transition from the classroom to the modern research laboratory. Many students spend the summers following their sophomore and junior years actively engaged in research, either on campus or at another institution. During the senior year, the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s honors thesis is available to students who maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or better, in physics.

Bachelor’s Honors Thesis

Students who wish to pursue a bachelor’s honors thesis must submit a signed honors thesis proposal form to the undergraduate faculty advisor for approval three quarters before the thesis is submitted. It is recommended that students discuss plans to pursue an honors thesis with their faculty advisor even earlier (e.g. before the beginning of their junior year). Completion of an honors thesis involves developing a research project under the supervision of a faculty member, presenting a public seminar describing the work, and submitting a formal written thesis to the faculty member and the undergraduate advisory committee for grading and approval. Honors thesis work is credited through one of the following courses: Physics 142L, 143L, 144L, 145L, and 199.