Principal Courses

Students from a variety of academic programs choose physics and astronomy courses to fulfill general education requirements or to meet the requirements of their major program.This page will provide you with helpful information to make a more informed choice as you consider which course would be best for me? 

Which courses are principal courses?

ASTR 191 and 391; PHSX 111, 114, 211/213   

Are these courses taught each semester?

All are taught each semester except ASTR 391 is taught once each year (presently in the Spring semester). 

I haven't taken physics before; will that be a problem?

The College Physics and General Physics sequences are two and three semester sequences, respectively, with each course assuming the prior courses as prerequisites. 

What kind of mathematics background do I need? 

For ASTR 191 and PHSX 111, high school math backgrounds are sufficient. PHSX 111 lists eligibility for MATH 104 as a prerequisite; ASTR 191 instructors will advise students to complete college algebra before taking that or other physical science course.The College Physics sequence (PHSX 114 and 115) lists MATH 104 or 3.5 years of college-preparatory mathematics or an ACT math score of 25 or higher as prerequisites.ASTR 391 and PHSX 211 require MATH 121 as a prerequisite.

What if I've taken another physics or astronomy course already? Can I still take ASTR 391 or PHSX 211? 

Probably; talk to your instructor or the associate chair of the department.   Whats the difference between PHSX 211 and PHSX 213? PHSX 211 and PHSX 213 cover the same content topics, but may use different texts. PHSX 213 is designed for our majors and honors students, so it is designed for students who want to learn more about the concepts behind the problems and for students who will appreciate the challenge of a smaller class environment.The same general comments apply to PHSX 212 and PHSX 214.

When should I take these courses?

If you're majoring in a science or engineering program, you'll want to take your necessary physics and astronomy courses as soon as you are eligible to do so, because so many other courses build on these foundations.If you're taking a physics or astronomy course for general education purposes, we recommend that you do NOT delay too long after taking your last math class taking one college algebra course as a freshman and then waiting until your senior year to take an algebra-based class is not a good plan.   

Additional information about the Physics and Astronomy courses and sequences has been prepared by staff at the Center for Teaching Excellence and is attached here.The files include a summary of content, examples of readings from required texts and sample problems to illustrate the level of mathematics required.


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