Undergraduate Major in
Applied Physics

Undergraduate Option Rep

Oskar Painter

Options Manager

Jennifer Blankenship

Please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website for on-line applications, downloadable forms, important dates, and complete information about the undergraduate admissions process.

Aims and Scope

The Applied Physics option is designed to extend knowledge of the principles of pure physics to the development of new technologies. Areas of current research emphasis in Applied Physics at Caltech include: optics and photonics, semiconductor devices, fluid dynamics, plasma physics, biophysics, and quantum physics. The interdisciplinary nature of this option allows considerable flexibility in course work, training and individual research interests to enhance maximum breadth and depth. By graduation, students have learned basic laboratory and engineering methods used in a broad range of applied physics sub-disciplines and will be able to critically evaluate and understand applied physics literature. To accomplish these goals, students are expected to complete a series of required laboratory and classroom courses designed to introduce them to a range of applied physics sub-disciplines. Undergraduate research is encouraged both during the academic year and through participation in summer research programs.

Option Requirements

  1. E 10 and E 11. E 11 can be satisfied by three units of additional work associated with the senior thesis (APh 78 or 79), or by taking Ph70, En 84, Bi24 or CNS/Bi/Ph107.
  2. Any three of the following: APh/EE  9 b, APh 24, Ph 3, Ph 5, Ph 6, or Ph 7.
  3. Ph 12 abc, APh 17 ab or APh 105 ab, Ph 106 abc, and Ph 125 ab or Ch 125 ab.
  4. Ma 2, Ma 3, and ACM 95 abc.
  5. Either APh 78 abc, or one term of APh 77 and one term of any of the following: APh 77, Ph 77, EE 91, Ch 6, Ae/APh 104 bc, and MS 90. Any substitutions or additions require prior approval of the option representative.
  6. One additional advanced sequence of APh courses numbered over 100, such as: APh 101 abc, APh/MS 105 abc, 114 abc, APh/Ph  115 and APh/Ph/Ae 116, APh/EE  130, 131, and 132, APh 156 abc, or BE/APh 161 and 162. Note  that APh 100 and APh 200 do not satisfy this requirement. Any substitutions or additions require prior approval of the option representative.
  7. Passing grades must be earned in a total of 486 units, including the courses listed above. No course in fulfillment of option requirements may be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  8. Any student whose grade-point average is less than 1.9 at the end of the academic year in the subjects listed above may be refused permission  to continue  work in this option.

Typical Course Schedule

Second Year   First Term Second Term Third Term
Ph 12 abc Sophomore Physics 9 9 9
Ma 2 and 3 Sophomore Mathematics 9 9 0
ACM 95 abc    Intro.  Methods  of Applied Math. 12 12 12
  HSS electives 9 9 9
  Laboratory electives1 6 6 6
  Other elective 0 0 9
    45 45 45
Three Year   First Term Second Term Third Term
Ph 125 ab Quantum Mechanics 9 9 0
APh 110 ab Topics in Applied Physics 2 2 0
APh 17 ab   Thermodynamics and Stat. Mech 9 9 0
Ph 106 abc Topics in Classical Physics 9 9 9
  HSS electives 9 9 9
  Other elective 9 9 27
    47 47 47
Fourth Year   First Term Second Term Third Term
APh 78 abc Senior Thesis, Experimental3 9 9 9
APh 77   Laboratory  in Applied Physics3 - 9 9
  Advanced Elective2 9 9 9
  HSS electives 9 9 9
  Other electives including APh100 27 18 18
    45 45 45

Suggested Electives

Students are encouraged to obtain a well-rounded course of study pursuant to the B.S. degree in applied physics. The option representative and/or undergraduate adviser will gladly assist students in choosing appropriate elective courses. Students ultimately interested in pursuing an advanced degree in applied physics or related fields are encouraged to complete a senior thesis project through APh 78 or 79.

Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science