Jun 22, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics Pathway Guide

Click here for more information about transferring to SMU.

Preparation for Transfer as a Physics Major

The following sequences are suggested courses to take in your semesters prior to transferring to SMU as a physics major. For students attending a Texas public community college or university, Texas Common Course Numbers (TCCNS) are listed.  If you are transferring from a college or university outside of Texas, click on the SMU course for a course description which may be used to select/compare courses at your current institution.

UC listings refer to SMU’s University Curriculum, which all undergraduates are required to complete. Refer to the University Curriculum Transfer Guide for a list of courses satisfying UC components. Interactive equivalency guides organized by transfer institution are available on the Transfer and Transition Services’ website.

Save all of your course syllabi! 

Please note: These plans assume students are ready to take calculus. If you are not “calculus ready,” take math courses to prepare you for calculus so that you advance to calculus as soon as possible. Also, if you are planning a minor, typically only one or two transfer courses will be applied.

B.S. in Physics

Semester I

Semester III

Semester IV

B.A. in Physics

Semester I

Semester II

Semester III

Semester IV


*The second language requirement may be satisfied by (1) transferring two terms of college courses in the same world language, (2) placing out of four terms of a world language by taking an SMU placement test or through AP or IB credit, or (3) being literate in a native language other than English.

The Physics Department

Physics is the study of space, time, energy and matter. It tries to ask and answer, in a verifiable and reproducible way, the deepest questions about the origin, nature and fate of the universe.

The Department of Physics  at SMU offers both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees as well as a minor in physics.  In addition to participating in research and leading experiments, students are given the opportunity to join leadership and organizational activities such as the local chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

Experimental Program

The SMU High Energy Particle Physics group studies the properties of the most fundamental constituents of matter and the laws governing their behavior. SMU physicists work on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and on the D0 and NOνA experiments based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. They also work in the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota looking for evidence of dark matter particles. All of these areas touch on leading questions that challenge modern physics, such as the origin of the elementary particle masses, the apparent asymmetry between matter and anti-matter in the universe, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to engage in research projects to supplement their curriculum.  SMU’s undergraduate research program covers articles, applied physics, astrophysics and physics pedagogy.  Students are invited to attend seminars every Monday to hear nationally acclaimed physicists speak on their successes in the field and new discoveries.


There are several ways students can connect further with the physics department.  These include a department newsletter and a free monthly podcast, which features research discussions and interviews with faculty and guests.

Majoring or Minoring in Physics

Two majors and one minor are offered by the department:

B.S. in Physics  - 40 hours in physics, 15 hours in mathematics, and three hours in computer science and engineering.  This major is for students planning careers in industry, laboratories or academia. 

B.A. in Physics  - 30 hours in physics and 15 hours in mathematics.  This major is for students pursuing careers in medicine, teaching, business and government. 

Minor in Physics  - 17 hours in physics and nine hours of advanced coursework.

The physics department also offers an integrated curriculum that enables a student to obtain both a B.S.E.E. or B.S.M.E degree with a B.S. in physics. For more in-depth information on those majors, visit the Physics Department website.

Preparing for a Smooth Transition

A seamless transfer to SMU and the Physics Program requires planning. This guide is designed to assist you in planning your transition. Taking the time to prepare for your move lays the best foundation for success. The following are a few important points to remember:

  • The second language requirement of the University Curriculum may be satisfied by 1) transferring two terms of college courses in the same world language, 2) placing out of four terms of world language by taking an SMU placement test or through AP or IB credit, or 3) being literate in a native language other than English.
  • SMU accepts AP scores of 4 or 5.
  • Work on the University Curriculum prior to transfer is highly encouraged.
  • Compare Course Descriptions found in SMU’s University Catalog to course descriptions at your current institution to maximize your awarded transfer credits.
  • For additional information on the Physics major, visit the department website or call 214-768-2495.
  • For more information about transferring to SMU, click here or call 214-768-3417.

SMU Degree

A degree from SMU is typically comprised of a minimum of 122 hours, 60 of which must be completed through SMU, 42 of which must be in courses at the 3000 and higher levels. Components of the degree include:

  • Courses in your major.
  • Courses required for the University Curriculum (UC).  
  • Elective courses.  These electives may be used to add a second major or minor.

The University Curriculum (UC)

The University Curriculum is required of all undergraduate students and consists of three main components: 

  1. Foundations - 6 hours of Discernment and Discourse courses, 3 hours of Quantitative Foundation courses, 2 hours of Personal Responsibility and Wellness courses, proficiency in a second language and 3 hours of a Ways of Knowing course (offered only at SMU)
  2. Breadth and Depth - 7 Breadth and 3 Depth courses which may double count with majors and minors
  3. Proficiencies and Experiences - 6 Proficiencies and Experiences requirements, met through Breadth and Depth coursework or approved, noncredit activities.

Apply Now!

Click here for more information about transferring to SMU.