Study Abroad for Physics Majors

When You Should Go

Physicists generally go abroad during the fall or spring of junior year. The major schedule change is that you will often (though not always) leave one of the junior year physics courses until your senior year.

Places Physics Majors Have Studied Abroad

  • University of Glasgow, Scotland
  • University of Aukland, New Zealand
  • University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • IES, Salamanca, Spain
  • Technical University of Budapest, Hungary (mathematics)

Department Rules for Transferring Credit

  • You must petition in advance for approval of the courses you wish to transfer (petition forms are available in the Physics Department office)
  • You should attend three seminars/talks related to physics and write a paragraph on each to obtain a semester of seminar credit
  • You must earn the equivalent of a B or better to earn transfer credit for physics courses

Frequently Given Advice

  • In sophomore spring (and junior fall if you go abroad junior spring), take the usual physics offerings. You need do nothing “special” to prepare for studying abroad.
  • At many institutions, 4 courses is the maximum load you are allowed to take. This normally transfers into HMC as 16 units.
  • Use your Study Abroad time to immerse yourself in your new culture. Take advantage of the Humanities and Social Sciences offerings at your host institution to learn more about the country you are visiting.
  • Discuss any Hum/Soc credit transfer plans that you have with your HSS advisor, as approval from the HSS Department Chair is required.
  • It is a good idea to identify and petition for approval of more courses than you will actually take while abroad. This helps if there are unexpected changes in offerings by your host institution. Advance approval is required is for your protection – it is best to avoid surprises about what will and won’t transfer when you return!
  • If you go away in the spring of your junior year, try to be in contact with the department chair so that you can be kept informed about senior research opportunities.

Further advice

For further advice, contact Professor Peter Saeta (saeta@hmc.edu), a member of the Study Abroad Committee.

Example Plan for Studying Abroad Fall of Junior Year Under Standard Physics Major Option+

Freshman Fall Units Spring Units
 Chem 21 and 25  4  Chem 22 and 26 4
 Phys 23  2  Phys 24 and 28 4
 Math 11 and 12  4  Math 13 and 14 3
 CS 5  3  Bio 52 3
 Hum 1  4  Hum 2 3
 Total  17  Total 17
Sophomore Fall Units Spring Units
 Phys 51 & 53 4  Phys 52 3
 Eng 59 3  Phys 54 1
 Math 61 and 62 3  Math 63 and 64 3
 Hum/Soc #1 3  Hum/Soc #3 3
 Hum/Soc #2 3  Hum/Soc #4 3
   Elective 3
 Total 16  Total 16
Junior Fall – STUDY ABROAD!* Units Spring  Units
 Statistical Mechanics or 4  Phys 116 3
 Theoretical Mechanics
 Electronics 4  Phys 134 2
 Hum/Soc #5 4  Math 115 3
 Hum/soc #6 4  Hum/Soc #7** 3
 Elective 3
 Total 16  Total 14
   
Senior Fall Units Spring Units
 Phys 111 or Phys 117 3  Phys 192 3-Feb
 Phys 151 3  2 Phys half courses 4
 Phys 181 2  Phys 196 0
 Phys 191 3-Feb  Hum/Soc #10 3
 Phys 195 0  IE Course 3
 Hum/Soc #8 3  Elective 3
 Hum/Soc #9 3
 Total 16-17  Total 15-16

+There are several optional programs for the Physics major. All can accommodate Study Abroad.

*Many countries and/or institutions allow a maximum of four courses per semester. While fewer in number than a normal HMC load, these have transferred in as 16 units for the semester.
**In addition, technical courses in physics or other departments could be considered.

Example Plan for Studying Abroad Spring of Junior Year Under Standard Physics Major Option+

Freshman Fall Units Spring Units
 Chem 21 and 25 4  Chem 22 and 26 4
 Phys 23 2  Phys 24 and 28 4
 Math 11 and 12 4  Math 13 and 14 3
 CS 5 3  Bio 52 3
 Hum 1 4  Hum 2 3
 Total 17  Total 17
Sophomore Fall Units Spring Units
 Phys 51 & 53 4  Phys 52 3
 Eng 59 3  Phys 54 1
 Math 61 and 62 3  Math 63 and 64 3
 Hum/Soc #1 3  Hum/Soc #3 3
 Hum/Soc #2 3  Hum/Soc #4 3
   Elective 3
 Total 16  Total 16
Junior Fall Units Spring – STUDY ABROAD!* Units
 Phys 111 3  Optics 4
 Phys 117 3  Hum/Soc #5 4
 Phys 133 1  Hum/Soc #6 4
 Phys 195 0  Hum/Soc #7** 4
 Math 115 3
 Hum/Soc #5 3
 Elective 3  
 Total 16  Total 16
Senior Fall Units Spring Units
 Phys 151 3  Phys 116 3
 Phys 181 2  2 Phys half courses 4
 Phys 191 3-Feb  Phys 192 3-Feb
 Phys 195 0  Phys 196 0
 Hum/Soc #8 3  Hum/Soc #10 3
 Hum/Soc #9 3  IE Course 3
 Elective 3-Feb
 Total 15-17  Total 15-16

+There are several optional programs for the Physics major. All can accommodate Study Abroad.
*Many countries and/or institutions allow a maximum of four courses per semester. While fewer in number than a normal HMC load, these have transferred in as 16 units for the semester.

**Technical courses in physics or other departments could also be considered.