The Advanced Physics Requirement

General philosophy --

The Advanced Physics Requirement is really a breadth requirement; it's purpose is to make sure students graduating from Caltech leave with a fairly broad knowledge of physics.  At the same time, students can choose what courses they take to satisfy this requirement, following their personal interests.

Course Substitutions for the Advanced Physics Requirement 
--What counts for what...

The Advanced Physics categories: 
Students need to take a minimum of a one-quarter course in six of the following eight categories:

  • Elementary Particle Physics (EP)
  • Nuclear Physics (NP)
  • Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics (AMO)
  • Condensed Matter Physics (CMP)
  • Gravitational Physics (GR)
  • Astrophysics (AP)
  • Mathematical Physics (MP)
  • Interdisciplinary Physics (ID)

Acceptable courses for the Advanced Physics requirement:

  • Ph101/Order-of-magnitude -- counts for ID or AP
  • Ph102b/Physics of the Interstellar Medium -- counts for counts for AMO, AP or ID
  • Ph103/Neuroscience -- counts for ID
  • Ph103/Electrons in Nanostructures -- counts for CMP
  • Ph103b/Spectroscopy -- counts for AMO, AP or ID
  • Ph105/Topics in Classical Physics -- counts for ID
  • Ph118/Low Noise Measurement AB, Physics of Measurement C -- any term counts for ID
  • Ph127/Statistical Physics -- two terms counts for CMP or ID
  • Ph129/Mathematical Methods of Physics -- any term counts for MP
  • Ph130 -- any term counts for CMP
  • Ph135/Applications of Quantum Mechanics -- individual terms count for AMO, CMP, NP, or EP, depending on content
  • Ph135b/String Theory -- individual terms count for MP or EP
  • Ph136a/Applications of Classical Physics (Stat Mech, Optics) -- counts for AMO or ID
  • Ph136b/Applications of Classical Physics (Elasticity, Fluid Dynamics) -- counts for AP or ID
  • Ph136c/Applications of Classical Physics (Plasma, GR) -- counts for GR
  • Ph161 -- any term counts for MP or ID
  • All physics courses numbering 200 count for something, depending on content
  • Ph205/Relativistic Quantum Field Theory -- Ph205a counts for ID, or Ph205ab counts for Math; Ph205c counts for EP
  • Ph210 -- any term counts for EP
  • Ph217/Introduction to the Standard Model -- any term counts for EP
  • Ph219/Quantum Computation -- any term counts for ID or MP
  • Ph223/Advanced Condensed Matter Physics -- any term counts for CMP
  • Ph229/Advanced Mathematical Methods of Physics -- any term counts for MP
  • Ph230/Elementary Particle Theory -- any term counts for EP
  • Ph231 -- any term counts for EP
  • Ph232 -- any term counts for MP
  • Ph235 -- any term counts for MP or EP
  • Ph236/Relativity -- Ph236a counts for Gravitational; Ph236bc counts for Astrophysics
  • Ph237/Gravitational Waves -- any term counts for GR
  • Ph250/Introduction to String Theory -- any term counts for MP
  • Ay121 -- counts for AP or AMO
  • APh114 -- any term counts for CMP

How to Satisfy the Advanced Physics Requirement

All you have to do for this requirement is take six quarters of reasonably advanced courses.  The list of substitutions above is a guide, but you should feel free to be creative in picking courses -- astronomy, chemistry, and applied physics courses are acceptable, for example.  Pick courses you're interested in!   And yes, courses taken pass/fail satisfy the requirement.

After you have decided what looks interesting, make a list of the courses you will take (or have taken), and how they satisfy the requirement (i.e.which categories). Send your list to Frank Porter for approval. Note that your course list must be officially approved online, and the courses must be passed, before you will be allowed to take the Oral Candidacy Exam.