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College of Arts & Sciences

Physics is the study of the behavior of matter, space, time and fields. Using highly sophisticated experimental and mathematical techniques, physicists gather detailed measurements of phenomena from the largest scales involving the entire universe to the smallest scales involving the most fundamental particles to construct theories that explain how the universe and the things in it behave. The department encourages the involvement of undergraduates in research and educates students at all levels, from general education through preparation for teaching. Graduates may pursue careers in scientific, technical, engineering and education fields.

Major category: Capacity-constrained

Curricular options: Applied Physics, Biophysics, Comprehensive Physics, Teacher Preparation

Topic(s): Computing, Engineering option, Natural and environmental sciences

Degree requirements

Applicant type

Applicant type

Freshmen can apply to the UW to begin autumn quarter or winter quarter (U.S. applicants only)

Read more about applying to the UW as a freshman, including details for programs that provide high school students with college credit (like Running Start).

Physics is a capacity-constrained major. An additional application is required after you enroll at the UW, and admission may be competitive. Visit the department website for more information.

Quarters of general admisson to UW: autumn / winter (U.S. applicants only) / spring / summer

Preparation for the major is a factor in transfer admission.

  • Use the information below to help you prepare for this degree
  • Visit MyPlan to run a degree audit.
  • Use the UW Equivalency Guide to find out how courses taken at a Washington state community or technical college will transfer to the UW.
  • UW college and school graduation requirements

Department admission information

Departmental application deadline: April 5 for Autumn, October 5 for Winter
Please contact the department for details about the application process.

This major is capacity-constrained. Completion of prerequisites does not guarantee admission.


Physics has two admissions pathways: Standard and Early.
Standard Admission Requirements:
    • Completion of PHYS 121, PHYS 122, & PHYS 123
    • completion of MATH 124, MATH 125, & MATH 126
    • Currently enrolled in physics lecture course higher than 220
    • Completion of minimum one physics lecture course (any course number, either at the UW or elsewhere) within the two quarters prior to application.
    • Personal Statement. Describe reasons for choosing major, including strategies for success.
    • Graduation Plan (Completed in MyPlan), recommended preapproval by an advisor.
Early Admissions Requirements:

Successful applicants typically have grades ≥ 3.2 in recent physics and math courses as well as a cumulative GPA ≥ 3.2. Appropriate for Transfer Applicants who wish to apply for direct admission to the Physics major while applying to the UW.

    • Completion of PHYS 121 & PHYS 122
    • completion of MATH 124 & MATH 125
    • Currently enrolled in PHYS 123 & MATH 126
    • Personal Statement. Describe reasons for choosing major, including strategies for success.
    • Graduation Plan (Completed in MyPlan), recommended preapproval by an advisor. [Transfer applicants create upon admission]

The online application is located on the  UW Physics Undergraduate website.

Read more about applying to the UW as a transfer student.

Courses required for the major:

  • PHYS 121 NSc RSN — Mechanics
  • PHYS 122 NSc – Electromagnetism
  • PHYS 123 NSc — Waves, Light, and Heat
  • MATH 124 NSc RSN — Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
  • MATH 125 NSc — Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
  • MATH 126 NSc — Calculus with Analytic Geometry III

Entering transfer information:

Total undergraduates: 215
Total from Washington community colleges: 27

Entering transfer GPA (from WA community colleges):

3.75 – 4.00: 7
3.50 – 3.74: 7
3.25 – 3.49: 5
3.00 – 3.24: <5
2.75 – 2.99: <5
2.50 – 2.74: <5
2.49 and below: <5

Career outcomes

See list of all majors