Do most schools require a science other than Physics for Physics majors?

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  • Thread starter PhizKid
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  • #1
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I'm told that most Physics majors in U.S. schools are required to take a science course other than Physics to graduate, but the several schools I'm looking at don't have any requirement for other sciences than Physics courses for their curriculum, and the General Education requirements for science can be fulfilled with a Physics elective as well...I was going to take General Chemistry, but if I don't have to I most likely won't. I haven't had the time to research every single school, but in general is this the case?
 

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  • #2
Nabeshin
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I would say this is pretty normal, but it's also not terribly unusual to find the occasional school requiring chemistry.
 
  • #3
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Every student at my school has to taken a science with a lab as part of general education requirements. But the rule is, you cannot use any of your major classes to fulfill the requirement. So even though you take physics classes that would count for this, they don't because they are part of your major. This might be the case for some schools but you didn't notice it.

You should probably take general chemistry anyways though.
 
  • #4
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At my school a physics major is required to take the first quarter of gen chem + 1 programming course.

I think if a student takes the honors intro physics sequence they are exempt from one of those, but I forget which.
 
  • #5
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Is there a logical reasoning why Chemistry is mandatory at these schools? Why not Biology w/Lab? I understand programming due to the computational nature of it and the relevance to Physics.
 
  • #6
Nabeshin
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Is there a logical reasoning why Chemistry is mandatory at these schools? Why not Biology w/Lab? I understand programming due to the computational nature of it and the relevance to Physics.
Well if you think about it, the kinds of things you're studying are much more similar with physics & chemistry as opposed to biology & physics. In some sense, chemistry is just a lot of applied physics and they even study the schrodinger eq, whereas you'll find nothing of the sort in undergraduate biology.
 
  • #7
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Then why not just stick with purely Physics courses? What's the point of adding Chemistry to a Physics curriculum? Just for the purpose of diverse learning, or what? I thought that was what high school was for.
 
  • #8
Nabeshin
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I'm sure you've also noticed that most colleges have some sort of 'diversity' requirement, whatever they call it. So even though you're a physics major, you're forced to take some English, philosophy, etc. The principle is similar, although a physicist likely gets more utility out of a chemistry class than philosophy.
 
  • #9
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My community college, like the major in-state (Idaho) universities, requires two semesters of General Chemistry from all Physics majors. I'm pretty sure most schools I've looked at have required 1-2 semesters of it. If you can avoid it, do so imho; they're rather common weeder courses, and can act as a time sink... which is really unfortunate when Chem II is a terminal course for you, rather than a stepping stone to Organic.
 
  • #10
My University requires the General Chemistry sequence for a Physics major, which is two semesters.

And yeah, chemistry is a lot of applied physics, and there is a ton of useful information in chemistry classes that physicists should know, but doesn't really have a place in a physics class.I can't tell you the number of times that homework problems in my physics classes had to do somehow with chemistry, and would have been a lot easier had I been exposed to it before.
 
  • #11
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Although I didn't take chemistry in my physics undergrad (I don't like chemistry), I do get the logic in taking it and sometimes even requiring it (although I was happy my school didn't). For example, when taking solid state physics I often felt ashamed how little I knew about chemistry; although it wasn't essential for the course, it would've helped for a better feel of some things. Also I suppose (I can only "suppose", not having taken it) chemistry students see applied thermodynamics (interwoven with their chemistry), whereas in my physics courses I only saw "theoretical thermodynamics", with the result that I'm often not sure how some concepts are actually used to one's advantage in calculations.
 

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