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Undergraduate Courses


Stanford offers four introductory physics sequences for a full range of interests, from non-science students to prospective majors.  These are:

  • the "teen" series:  for the humanities or social science student who wishes to become familiar with the content and methodology of modern physics
  • the "20" series: a non-calculus-based sequence that satisfies the requirements for life science, and pre-medical students
  • the "40" series:  a calculus-based sequence for most physical science and engineering students
  • 61/71/81:  for students with significant preparation in physics and calculus


There are several resources to help you decide which starting point in which sequence is most appropriate for your preparation and interests:

  • The introductory sequences are described in the Physics section of the Bulletin.
  • Detailed course listings can be found in the Physics section of ExploreCourses.
  • An online Placement Diagnostic is offered in late summer and during the academic year to assist students in determining where to start in the PHYSICS 40 series or the PHYSICS 61/71/81 courses.  Note that, beginning in Autumn 2022, students majoring in Physics or Engineering Physics must complete PHYSICS 61/71/81, possibly after taking PHYSICS 41 and 43, or only 43; the Physics Placement Diagnostic will provide guidance on where to begin.
  • The STEM Roadmap to the First Year is a personalized tool that illustrates some common plans to start a number of different STEM majors. The Roadmap supports all the majors in the School of Engineering as well as many STEM majors from the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Sustainability.