Getting Started:  Freshmen Enrollment Guide

For new students, the primary concern is getting enrolled.  Here is a quick overview of how to assess where you are at and which courses you should enroll in....

What classes do I enroll in to start my physics major?
What math class should I enroll in?
What calculus series should I take?
When should I take math?
Which physics should I take?
When should I take physics?

What classes do I enroll in to start my physics major?

Students begin with math and physics. Students must begin with the PHYS 5 series in the fall in order to stay on track.  Using the following information, students should prioritize their enrollment in math and physics courses.  Remember, all courses for your major must be taken for a letter grade, see our Letter Grade Policy.

What math class should I enroll in?

Take the Mathematics Placement. Your score will determine which math course you can enroll in.  

Which calculus series should I take?

UCSC offers several calculus sequences.  MATH 19AB or 20AB are recommended options for physics majors.

MATH 19 series, Calulus for Science, Engineering, And Mathematics, the most common series for physics majors.

MATH 20 series, Honors Calculus.

Your AP Calculus test score may exempt you from taking one or more of the calculus courses, see our Advanced Placement Credit page for more information.

Which physics series should I take?

UCSC offers two introductory physics series:  Physics 5A/L, B/M, C/N and Physics 6A/L, B/M, C/N.  All physics students must take the 5 series.

When should I take math?

You should take math in your first quarter.  Reference these sample academic plans and your math placement score to determine which sample plan is appropriate for you:

Physics BS Freshmen Academic Plans
Applied Physics BS Freshmen Academic Plans
Physics Education BS Freshmen Academic Plans
Astrophysics BS Freshmen Academic Plans

When should I take physics?

All physics majors should take physics 5A their first quarter at UCSC.  Students who do not place into Math 19A or higher will take an additional year to complete their degree.