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Introductory Physics Courses & First Year Advising

First-Year Student Advising for General Physics Courses

  • Potential Physics, Physics combined, and BBMB Majors - students must complete the Physics 155-156 track, which begins during the spring semester.
  • Recommended courses for most first-year students considering Physics, Physics combined or BBMB:*
    • Fall semester: Gens 175; Math course (use math placement exam to fnd appropriate level); two other courses
    • Spring semester: Gens 176; Math course, Phys 155, one other course.
  • General advice for students considering physics, astronomy, and BBMB majors. Complete the general physics requirements as soon as possible to permit study abroad options, easier sequencing of courses, and more options for completion of majors.
  • * SPECIAL CASES: Students with strong high school physics background (AP Physics C, Calculus-based physics, College level Physics) should consider stepping directly  into Phys 156 during the fall semester.  See below ("Placement into Phys 156").

Some comments on General Physics offerings at Whitman College

  • We have two sequences: Phys 155/56 and 145/46. Physics 155/56 is designed to prepare students for upper level physics courses. Physics 145/46 is taught with a focus on biology and geology, and is intended for students who don’t plan to take further physics courses, including pre-med students.
  • Students considering majoring in physics or BBMB should take Phys 155/156.

Transferring Credit for Introductory Physics

  • To get course equivalency for Phys 145 or 155, the course must be calculus-based and have a lab component.
  • The phys 155/56 sequenced is geared towards students who will take a third physics course at Whitman. This includes physics and physics-X combined, astronomy, and BBMB majors, as well as students seeking a physics minor. Phys 156 is a prerequisite for all 200+ level physics courses (including Biophysics). Phys 145 or 155 or the equivalent is a prerequisite for Phys 156; we allowed 145 for the rare cases of students who discover they want to pursue physics beyond Phys 146 while taking Phys 145.

Placement into Physics 156

  • Students can get credit for Physics 155, and start at Whitman in Physics 156, with a score of 5 on the Physics C advanced placement test.
  • Students with a strong physics background have the opportunity to take an in-house placement exam and start at Whitman in physics 156. Note that in this case, credit is not awarded for Physics 155.  Future physics majors exercising this option are required to take upper level mechanics (Physics 347).  Students in other majors should ensure that potential future plans (e.g. professional schools) won't require a two-semester introductory physics sequence. If you are interested in taking the in-house placement exam, please contact Prof. Hoffman.
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