Physics seeks to discover the fundamental regularities or “laws” that govern our universe and to apply these laws to explain the behavior of fundamental and complex systems. The department offers majors in physics, physics (astrophysics), applied physics, and physics education. The applied physics major is good preparation not only for industrial careers but also graduate studies.
For more information about the physics program requirements, please see the Physical and Biological Sciences Undergraduate Advising web site at undergrad.pbsci.ucsc.edu.
Study and Research Opportunities
- The Physics Department offers a B.S., M.S., Ph.D., an undergraduate minor, and a new combined B.S./M.S. degree.
- The number of research opportunities for physics undergraduates is exceptionally high.
- The senior thesis requirement enables students to interact professionally with faculty in a research environment.
- The California Teach program at UCSC supports student outreach, advises students, and arranges teaching internships for physics education students.
Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)
High school students coming directly to UCSC should emphasize their math preparation with the expectation that they will take calculus in their first quarter at UCSC in order to concurrently take the Physics 5 series, calculus-based physics for physics majors.
Information for Transfers
Students transferring to UCSC as junior physics, astrophysics, or applied physics majors should have completed the equivalent of three quarters of introductory calculus-based physics with laboratory and the equivalent of three quarters of calculus. It is also desirable to have an introductory course in modern physics, an introductory course in chemistry, as well as mathematics courses in linear algebra, vector calculus, and differential equations. The Physics Department advises each junior transfer student individually upon their arrival.
- Applied physics research
- Business and industry
- Computer hardware and software
- Medical physics
- Professional schools
- Patent law
- Physics research
These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.
Physics students and faculty use a number of UCSC research facilities, such as the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and The UC Observatories (headquartered at UCSC). Proximity to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, and NASA’s AMES Research Center provides additional local research opportunities.
Awards, Honors, and Recognitions
The department has eight winners of the UCSC Excellence in Teaching Award, 14 Fellows of the American Physical Society, and three members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Konstantin Batygin (B.S., 2008) won the Steck Award for best undergraduate thesis and is now an Assistant Professor of Geological & Planetary Sciences at Caltech.
Sharon Gerbode (B.S., 2003) did her senior thesis with Bruce Schumm, received her Ph.D. at Cornell, and is now faculty at Harvey Mudd College.
Andrew Johnson (B.S., 2013) worked in SCIPP laboratory on digital data transmission for ATLAS and is now studying Petroleum Engineering in Texas.
Physics Department Office:
Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, Rm 211
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064