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Advice for Physics Students

An advising guide for prospective and declared Physics and Engineering Physics majors, as well as first-year students who are choosing an introductory physics sequence:

Resources primarily for first-year students

The STEM Roadmap to Your First Year 2019-2020  was designed by representatives from the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences. From the web page:


“Many paths lead successfully through Stanford's STEM majors. Because we know that students interested in math, science, and engineering may discover their academic home in many places across Stanford, the goal of this tool is to show some common plans to start a number of different STEM majors.”

See these slides from September 2019, which cover all four Natural Sciences majors (Physics, Math, Biology, Chemistry) in a coherent way. The advice is also relevant to a number of related majors (see slide 4).

Engr 1 ("Want to Be an Engineer?”) is a one-unit course that was offered for the first time in Autumn 2018 and is designed for any student interested in learning more about the range of STEM majors at Stanford. The course introduces students to all the majors in the School of Engineering, all the majors in Stanford Earth, and many of the STEM majors in the School of Humanities and Sciences. 

Each summer, we present a SSEA module on a challenging but interesting physics topic (angular momentum, torques, gyroscopes, etc.). This usually includes a follow-up lunch with students interested in Physics or Engineering Physics. 

We also meet with the SSEA cohort to answer questions about introductory physics and math sequences, and the Physics placement diagnostic.

The Physics Placement Diagnostic is required of students who have not taken an introductory physics class and want to enroll in PHYS 21, 41, 41E, 43, 45, 61.  After taking the diagnostic, students receive an advisory email; they can follow-up with questions on choosingphysics@stanford.edu

Students can email choosingphysics@stanford.edu with questions on placement, suitable starting point, AP/IB/transfer credit, etc.

Resources for prospective Physics or Engineering Physics Majors

This pre-major advising lunch, which we do each Winter or Spring, is advertised to all the students in the Physics 40 & 60 series, and more.  It is similar in content to the advising dinner in the Autumn, but without the alumni, extra faculty, and current students in attendance. And there is a bit more focus on requirements, etc.

Physics and Engineering Physics always arrange to have neighboring tables at the Majors Night organized by UAR, staffed by faculty, staff and students who are on the UG Studies Committee, and members of the student groups (SUPS, PUWMAS, EPIC). For 2019/20, Majors Night will be held the evening of January 28, 2020.

Each Autumn, we schedule a pre-major advising dinner for prospective majors in Physics and Engineering Physics.  We invite instructors of the Physics 40 and 60 series, the Undergraduate Studies Chair, the Physics Chair, co-directors of Engineering Physics, faculty advisors, SPS/PUWMAS/EPIC officers, and alumni who work in the local area to attend to help represent the Physics and Engineering Physics programs.   

Resources for prospective and declared Physics or Engineering Physics majors

See the Physics section of the Course Bulletin for requirements for the Physics major (including the Senior Thesis and Honors requirements) and the Physics minor.

See the recently updated set of four-year plans linked to this page.    

See the Physics section of the Course Bulletin for requirements for the Physics major (including the Senior Thesis and Honors requirements) and the Physics minor.

Pre-major advising: Pat Burchat (burchat@stanford.edu) and Rick Pam (rpam@stanford.edu)

Chair of UG Advising in Physics: Pat Burchat (burchat@stanford.edu)

Advisors for Physics majors are listed on this page

In addition to the descriptions of the Engineering Physics requirements in the Course Bulletin and in the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook, see four-year plans & flowchart linked to this page.

Pre-major advising: Pat Burchat (Professor in Physics, burchat@stanford.edu), Mark Cappelli (Professor in Mechanical Engineering, cap@stanford.edu) 

Advisors for each specialty in Engineering Physics are listed on this page.

Resources for declared Physics or Engineering Physics majors

The Summer Research webpage contains resources for the Physics/AP/SLAC program, including a list of specific research opportunities at Stanford for the most recent summer, and a link to a compilation of opportunities outside Stanford.

The Undergraduate Resources page includes two advising resources on applying to PhD programs in Physics or related fields:

Students may apply for a VPUE Conference Grant of up to $1,500, which supports students who have been accepted to present their own project results at a professional or scholarly conference.

The Undergraduate Resources page includes information on how students can apply for Physics Department support to attend a conference, if they are unable to secure other funding; see the application for funding for profeessional conference reimbursement.

The Summer Research webpage contains resources for the Physics/AP/SLAC program, including a list of specific research opportunities at Stanford for the most recent summer, and a link to a compilation of opportunities outside Stanford

Contact information for...

  • Premajor advising in Physics and physics course transfer evaluation, contact Rick Pam.
  • Premajor advising in Engineering Physics, contact Professor Pat Burchat in Physics or Professor Mark Cappelli in Engineering.
  • Administrative questions, contact the UG Student Services Officer in Physics, Elva Carbajal.
  • Approvals of waivers and substitutions in the Physics major, first contact your major advisor, and then contact Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics,  Peter Graham.

Major advisors in physics

The following faculty are currently accepting new advisees for 2019/20:

  • Patricia Burchat
  • Sarah Church
  • Sean Hartnoll
  • Patrick Hayden
  • Shamit Kachru
  • Vedika Khemani
  • Sri Raghu

Major advisors in engineering physics

For information on major advisors in Engineering Physics, see Engineering Physics Major in the School of Engineering site.