Physics Education

A Tesla coil demonstration.


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 Physics Department offers majors in physics, physics (astrophysics), applied physics, and physics education. These programs prepare students for graduate work in physics, astrophysics and astronomy, for engineering and other technical positions in industry, and for careers in education. With appropriate courses in other disciplines, these majors provide excellent preparation for advanced study in technical subjects such as biology, chemistry, engineering, geophysics, and the philosophy of science. The applied physics major is excellent preparation for positions in industry directly upon graduation.

For more information about the physics program requirements, please see the Physical and Biological Sciences Undergraduate Advising web site at

Degrees Offered

  • B.S.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • 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

Given the variety of coursework completed prior to transfer, creating a general plan for transfer students in this major is difficult. For help with academic planning, please meet with the physics advisor - see Major Advising to schedule an appointment.


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.

Department Website

More Information

Undergraduate Affairs
Physical and Biological Sciences
142 Jack Baskin Engineering Building
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-4143