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Undergraduate Physics at The Ohio State University

Undergrad Home | Handbook | Courses | Advising | Scholarships & Awards | Graduation Info | Student Organizations | Research | Transfer Credit

Procedures for Arts and Sciences Students

This section is intended to help you complete the necessary paperwork as you go through your studies. The information here certainly won't cover all circumstances, but it should be adequate for most situations involving your major. The Undergraduate Studies Office is ready to assist you at all times. In the event of any confusion, please contact us as soon as possible for assistance.

  • Declaring a Major:
    To declare Physics as your major, you should contact the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in 1040K Physics Research Building. This information will be electronically entered into your records.
  • Advising and Registration:
    Once you declare Physics as your major, you will have two advisors: a college advisor and a department advisor.
    • The college advisor provides assistance with and handles issues regarding the General Education Curriculum requirements (GEC) and graduation procedures.
    • The department advisor provides assistance with details pertaining to your major program. Since the B.S. in Physics is offered through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (ASC), college advising is offered through the College offices in Denney Hall. The Vice Chair and the Director for Undergraduate Studies act as department advisor for ALL physics majors. You should see the department advisor to discuss your program and for signatures on any forms or petitions. E-mail to set up an appointment. Some problems can be resolved entirely by e-mail.
  • Adds/Drops/Withdrawals:
    For routine scheduling, use the University registration system. For difficulties in scheduling physics courses or for those courses with controlled enrollment, see the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in 1040K Physics Research Building. After the seventh week, withdrawal is by petition only. Such petitions are granted only for extenuating circumstances and only if the instructor can certify that you are doing passing work in the course.
  • Minimum Grade Requirements:
    The College of Arts and Sciences requires that you receive at least a C- in a course to count it toward your major. ANY COURSE THAT IS PART OF THE PHYSICS/MATH CORE IN WHICH YOU RECEIVE LESS THAN A C- MUST BE REPEATED. You will need a Course Enrollment Permission form to repeat a course. All courses in the core curriculum must be taken for a grade and your cumulative GPA in all courses must be at least 2.00.
  • Repetition of Courses:
    Undergraduates may repeat any course for credit (regardless of the grade received) upon the recommendation of the authorized representative of the dean or director of their enrollment unit.
  • Freshman Forgiveness Rule:
    If a course in which an undergraduate receives a grade of D+, D or E, taken during the freshman year (the period during which the first forty-four credit hours are accumulated on the student's official permanent record) is repeated before the end of that student's sophomore year (when the student will have accumulated a total of eighty-nine credit hours), the original course credit and grade will be automatically excluded from the calculation of the student's cumulative point-hour ratio and deficiency points, but will remain on the student's official permanent record. If the grade in the original course was a D+ or D, a student may repeat the course for credit only upon the recommendation of the authorized representative of the dean, or director of the student's enrollment unit. The same course may be repeated only once under this rule. This rule may be applied for a maximum of fifteen credit hours.
  • Incompletes and Withdrawals:
    Grades of incomplete are intended for situations where the student cannot complete the course due to circumstances beyond his or her control. (Simply doing poorly is not an adequate reason; in that case, the student should withdraw from the course.) A student may withdraw from a course through the seventh week of the quarter. After the seventh week, withdrawal is only by petition. The deadline for making up incompletes is six weeks into the next quarter; this means, for example, making up the work at the beginning of Summer quarter for Spring incompletes. If final grades are not filed by then, and if an extension form has not been filed, then the grade reverts to an alternate grade, usually E, that the instructor listed on the original grade report. It is the student's responsibility to make necessary arrangements with the instructor for making up an incomplete.
  • Graduation Forms:
    It is essential to keep in mind the necessary forms that you will need to file and to know when to file them prior to graduation. Failure on your part can delay your graduation. The forms needed are:
    1. Arts and Sciences Physics Major Program Form (also known as the Arts and Sciences Bingo Sheet):
      This form must be signed by your advisor three (3) quarters prior to the quarter in which you intend to graduate. For example, for Spring graduation, you need to complete this form the previous Autumn quarter. This form lists the physics and math core courses plus any other courses, such as thematic electives, that are part of your program. An exit interview is required at the time that the major program form is completed.
    2. Application for Baccalaureate Degree:
      This form must be filed in the college office no later than Wednesday of the eighth week of your intended final quarter. You will need a copy of your major program form on hand when you file this form. Please make a copy of the completed form and file the copy with the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in 1040K PRB. This form is available in the offices of the College of Arts and Sciences at Denney Hall.
    • NOTE: Honors students complete an honors contract with their Honors advisor in Enarson Hall. These students still complete a Major Program Form and Exit Interview within the Department of Physics however the application for graduation is handled within the Honors College.
  • Transfer Credit:
    Physics majors transferring from other colleges or universities may be able to receive transfer credit for courses taken there. Transfer credit may be general, such as 15 hours of physics, or it may be course-specific, such as 4 hours for Physics 261. General credit can be counted as free electives, but it does not satisfy any requirements of the major and cannot be used to satisfy prerequisites. Course-specific credit does satisfy major requirements and prerequisites. A transfer student must have on the major program at least 20 credit hours earned at Ohio State. Any request for a variation in this policy must be approved by the student's faculty advisor, the chairperson of the department concerned, and the Undergraduate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. For course specific, physics transfer credit, call the Academic Program Specialist at 292-2067. There you may be referred to another individual to address your specific transfer credit concerns. When meeting with the transfer credit evaluation, bring the following items:
    1. OSU Credit Evaluation Sheet given to you by the Admissions Office
    2. Transcripts from other colleges or universities, and
    3. A description of the course or courses that you would like to have evaluated. (A syllabus from the course taken will be necessary. If possible please bring the name of the text and the chapters covered)

    For transfer credit specific to other departments, contact the relevant department directly.
  • Advice for Graduate School:
    The information in this section is intended for students planning on graduate work in physics. As a general guideline, admission to graduate school will take a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better with a strong record in physics and math. The best graduate schools will require at least a 3.5, and some will require an even higher GPA. Average time to receive the Ph.D. is five to six years in graduate school; the practical minimum is four years and the maximum can be much longer. The B.S. Option A is intended to provide good preparation for graduate study in physics.

    You should begin preparations for graduate school in your junior year. During this year you should learn about different schools and make a list of six or eight that interest you. This list should span the range from schools that you would love to get into to schools that you are very confident of getting into. The American Institute of Physics' "Graduate Programs in Physics and Astronomy" (available in the Graduate Studies Office and the Science and Engineering Library) and departmental brochures that you can write for are the primary sources. Talking with your adviser or other professors can give you valuable insights about appropriate schools. If at all possible, visit the departments you are most interested in.

    You should register for and take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) during the autumn of your senior year. Practice tests and information about the student run GRE Prep course are available on-line at: GRE Prep Course Information . Even if you are not able to participate in the prep course, you may find the online tests, solutions, and study structure helpful for your personal preparation.

    Finally, narrow your list to four or five places and apply in the late fall. Applications can be expensive, and there's little reason to make lots of them. Do your homework first and make just a few.

    Letters of recommendation are a key factor in judging an application. Make it a point to get to know a couple of your professors fairly well. Involvement in faculty research programs is a particularly important way to do this (see "Undergraduate Research Opportunities"). It is also a good idea to go and see professors during their office hours and engage them in broader discussion about physics, not just questions from the particular course you're taking. Alternatively, get a part-time job in someone's laboratory or, if you are in the Honors program, do an honors thesis. These activities not only will give you an edge in the admissions process, they also will increase your chances for success in graduate school.

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