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Undergraduate Physics Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Difficulties

  • I have been notified I am on academic warning and need to meet with my advisor. What should I do? 
    • Bring a copy of an academic advisement form and the COS Academic Warning Contract to your PY academic advisor during the first four weeks of the semester. Be sure to fill out the top box before you come.
    • After the forms have been signed by your academic advisor, bring them to the COS Academic Affairs Office in 116 Cox Hall.
    • Failure to follow these steps will result in a hold on your account that prevents registration for the next semester.
  • I have been academically suspended. Can I take classes while I am on suspension, and when can I return to school?
  • I received an email notifying me that I am on progress toward degree warning. What does this mean?
    • Progress toward degree warning means you are not progressing in your degree as required by the university (e.g. taking too many non-curriculum courses, repeating courses too many times, poor grades, etc.)
    • Students who receive a progress toward degree warning email should schedule a meeting with their advisor as soon as possible to develop an agreement and plan of work for improvement
    • Students who do not show improvement after one semester or fail to meet with their advisor will be expelled from the PY department and switched to the non-degree studies (NDS) program
    • The university policy on progress toward degree can be found here:
      http://www.ncsu.edu/policies/academic_affairs/academic_progress/REG02.05.3.php

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Account Holds

  • I have a hold on my account that is preventing me from registering. How can I get the hold removed?

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Adding/Dropping Courses

  • I want to add/drop a course after the last day to add/drop. Can I do this?
    • Deadlines for adding/dropping courses can be found here:
      http://www.ncsu.edu/registrar/calendars/index.html
    • Late course additions must be approved by the instructor of the course and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. A schedule revision form should be used to add a course
    • Late course drops are permitted only under certain extenuating circumstances. A schedule revision form should be used to add a course. The form must be accompanied by a letter of explaination addressed to Dr. JoAnn Cohen, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, justifying the request and supporting documentation (doctor's notes, counseling center notes, etc.)
    • Students who have a legitimate reason for dropping a course after the deadline should first consult the University Counseling Center
    • The university policy on late drops (withdrawals) can be found here:
      http://www.ncsu.edu/policies/academic_affairs/academic_progress/REG02.05.4.php
    • Schedule revision forms can be acquired from your academic advisor
  • Can I switch to another section of the same course after the last day to add a class? 
    • No

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BS and BA Degrees

  • What is the difference between the physics BS and BA degrees?
    • Unlike the physics BS degree, the physics BA degree does not require PY412 (Mechanics II), PY415 (Electromagnetism II), PY402 (Quantum Physics II), or MA401 (Applied Differential Equations II). In place of these four courses, BA students must complete 6 credit hours of Restricted Electives (from the GEP-Additional Breadth category), 3 more hours of Technical Electives, and 3 more hours of Free Electives.

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PY/MA Double Major

  • I am interested in a double major in physics and mathematics. How many extra courses will I need to take, and how do I declare a second major?
    • A second major in math will require at a minimum, seven math courses in addition to those required for a BS in physics (MA 225, 421, 407, 425, and three MA electives). These extra math courses will count for the 4 Technical Electives required in the Physics program. Students who begin with sufficient AP credit in calculus should be able to complete the double major in four years
    • We recommend students pursuing an PY/MA double major focus on the PY major first (fitting in MA courses as you can), and then complete the MA degree. This is because MA courses are offered more often than PY courses, which are offered only once a year
    • Humanity/social science requirements are the same for both majors
    • To declare a math major, contact Dr. Alina Duca (pbbuckla@ncsu.edu) in 2108B SAS Hall

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Change of Major

  • How can I transfer into or out of the Department of Physics?
    • Intra-campus transfers must pass a class from the physics sequence 201, 202, 203, or 411 before formally matriculating into physics
    • Students who meet this requirement should contact the DUP (David_Brown@ncsu.edu) to submit a plan change form
    • Students who are planning to transfer to another major should first visit the Academic Advising Services website for information on admission requirements and for the name of an adviser in that department. This is also a good starting place for students who are not sure what major to choose
    • Students who need more guidance about choosing new majors should make an appointment with an advisor at Academic Advising Services.

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Course Registration

  • I am an incoming freshman. How do I register for my first semester of classes?
  • I am an incoming transfer student. How do I register for my first semester of classes, and whom should I contact with questions about my transfer courses?
    • Contact (David_Brown@ncsu.edu) to discuss your class schedule, after which your advising hold will be released
  • I am a transfer student. Do I need to take COS 100?
    • No. This course is intended for students for students who are new to a college environment. An orientation course for transfer students is under development. See the DUP for details.
  • How can I get into a full class?
    • First, get on the wait list if you can. Note that wait lists are closed the first day of class and erased on the last day to add a class.
    • Attend the first day and see if there is room and if the instructor is willing to take extra students into the class
    • For non-PY courses, if the instructor grants permission, a schedule revision form can be used to add the course to your schedule.  You can pick up a schedule revision form from the undergraduate office, 204 Riddick Hall
    • For PY courses, the instructor must grant permission by sending an email to Keith_Warren@ncsu.edu
  • What are the differences between distance education and regular classes (non-PY courses only)?
    • Students are not required to come on campus for distance education courses, except for some exams. Exam accommodations can be made for students out of state
    • Distance education courses are slightly more expensive than regular courses and are not included in normal tuition. Check the University Cashier’s Office website for pricing: http://www.fis.ncsu.edu/cashier/
    • Distance education courses meet curriculum requirements the same as regular courses
  • How can I take more courses after I complete my degree and graduate?
  • Can my PY advisor help me get into non-PY courses?
    • No. Only administrators in the department offering a course can add or remove students from classes in that department
  • I am entering my last semester as a physics student, but I cannot get into PY 452 (senior lab) because it is full. What should I do?
  • Can I take more than 7 credit hours in a 5-week summer session?
    • You must have permission from your advisor and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences to register for more than 7 credit hours (two 3 credit classes + a 1 credit class) in a 5-week summer session
    • Students must complete a schedule revision form, which can be acquired from an academic advisor
  • Can I take more than 18 credit hours in a regular semester?
    • Yes. Students may register for up to 21 credit hours by completing a course load waiver form and having it signed by their academic adviser.
  • Can I register for senior level PY courses if I am a junior?
    • Yes, as long as you meet all the prerequisites
  • Do I have to register for at least 12 credit hours?
    • Not necessarily. If you have less than 12 credit hours in a semester you will not be classified as a full-time student. This may create (non-critical) issues with Progress Toward Degree requirements. More importantly, many scholarships and sources of financial aid require full-time status.
  • Can I drop below 12 credit hours?
    • To drop below 12 credit hours, a Schedule Revision form must be signed by the Director of the Undergraduate Majors' Program. This form must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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Grade Exclusion

  • How does the grade exclusion policy work?
    • Undergraduate students may select up to two NC State courses with posted letter grades of C- or below to be excluded from calculation of their cumulative grade point average.
    • Visit this link for more information: policies.ncsu.edu/regulation/reg-02-20-16. At that web site you will find the "grade exclusion form". This form must be signed by your advisor.

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Course Requisites and Restrictions

  • How do I get into a PY course that requires me to be matriculated if I am not?
  • What can I do if I do not meet the prerequisites for a PY class?
    • Contact your Physics advisor
    • Any student who meets a prerequisite with a transfer course that has not yet appeared on his/her degree audit may contact David_Brown@ncsu.edu for help with registration (must provide proof, such as an unofficial transcript)
    • Students with special circumstances may appeal to the instructor teaching the course for permission to add.
  • Do I have to take co-requisite courses at the same time?
    • In some cases co-requisite courses represent complimentary classes, like a lecture and lab (e.g., CH 101 and CH 102). In such cases, from an educational standpoint, it is better to take them together
    • In other cases a co-requisite is intended as a minimum pre-requisite. For example, MA 341 is listed as a co-requirement for PY 411. It is highly desirable to take MA 341 before PY411, but at the very least, it must be taken at the same time
  • How can I get into a non-PY class that is restricted?
    • When there are open seats in a course that are reserved for specific majors, you may attend class the first day and ask the instructor for permission to have one of the restricted seats.  If the instructor grants permission, a schedule revision form can be used to add the course to your schedule.  You can pick up a schedule revision form from your academic advisor. This form requires the instructor's signature.
    • If the course restriction says departmental approval required (DAR), you may contact the instructor to find out who in the department can grant permission (permission must come from the department teaching the class)
    • If there is a GPA restriction which you do not meet, you will not be able to register for the class
    • If the course requires a laptop, contact the instructor to gain admittance to the class
  • I want to take ENG 333 next semester when I am a junior, but I cannot sign up for the class because of the junior standing restriction. What should I do?
    • The English department does not make exceptions to this restriction
    • Take ENG 333 later on (it doesn’t matter when, since it is not a prerequisite for any other course)

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Couse Substitutions

  • Which courses satisfy the computer science requirement for physics? 
    • CSC 112 FORTRAN
    • CSC 114 C++
    • BME 201 Computational Methods in BME (Matlab course)
    • ECE 209 Computer Systems (prerequisite: ECE 109)
    • ISE 110 Computer-Based Modeling
    • MA 116 Into to Scientific Programming (Matlab course)
    • Any 3 credit Matlab or C-based programming course
  • Can MA 501 be substituted for MA 401? 
    • Yes. 501 covers more material and hence will move at a faster pace.
  • Can COM 110 be substituted for ENG 333? 
    • No, but ENG 331 can be substituted
  • I have courses listed under non-degree that are substitutes for degree requirements (CSC 114 for CSC 112, MSE 301 for PY 413). How can I move these courses in my degree audit? 
    • Course substitutions must be done manually by an adviser. Send an email to David_Brown@ncsu.edu with a list of substitutions.
    • Substitutions can only be done for courses that have a grade or are in progress. Planned courses do not meet degree requirements until they are in progress.

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Free Electives

  • Are Free Electives Really Free?
    • The short answer is no. In your degree audit, click on the "requirements" link next to free electives. You will see a list of courses that cannot be used as free electives. These courses include, for example, the algebra-based physics courses PY211/212. The list also includes every foreign language course at the 101 level. Presumably this is the University's attempt to keep you from receiving credit for, say, Spanish 101 if you took Spanish in high school to satisfy your foreign language proficiency requirement. If you want to take a 101 foreign language course in a language that is different from the one used to satisfy your foreign language proficiency requirement, see the dup (david_brown@ncsu.edu). In most cases the dup will approve the use of such a course as a free elective.

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General Advising

  • Where can I find help planning out my remaining courses to make sure I graduate on time? 
    • Use your degree audit as your guide for planning courses
    • If you want to deviate from the suggested sequence of courses in the degree audit, be sure you will meet prerequisites for future courses
    • Physics students should be aware that the physics curriculum is very structured. Deviating from the suggested plan of study could result in delaying graduation by at least one year
    • Take advantage of the plan of work feature in My Pack to plan out all of your courses
    • Questions may be directed to your Physics academic advisor
  • How do I join the PY honors program, and what are the requirements for completion? 
  • Which courses are C-wall for PY?
    • PY 202, 203, 411, 414, 401
  • I made a C- in a C-wall class. Does this satisfy the C-wall requirement? 
    • Yes
  • Which courses in the physics curriculum can be taken for credit only? 
    • The orientation course, Health and Exercise courses and free electives can be taken for credit only. All other courses that count for degree requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
  • How can I tell which physics curriculum I should follow? 
    • Log into your My Pack account and view the degree audit
    • Your degree key will appear at the top of the audit (17PY 097,17PY 036, etc.)
    • All students who matriculate July 2009 and later are on the most recent curricula (097)
  • How can I get an official copy of my transcript? 
    • Visit or contact the Office of Registration & Records (1000 Harris Hall) to request an official copy of your transcript
    • Visit MyPack Portal and click on the "Student Self Service" tab. Under the topic Academic Records is the link to order an official transcript
  • What are the office hours for my PY advisor? 
    • Advising is done by appointment only, contact your advisor to arrange a time to meet
  • How many credit hours must I complete to reach the next academic level? 
    • Freshman: 0-29 Credit hours passed
    • Sophomore: 30-59 Credit hours passed
    • Junior: 60-91 Credit hours passed
    • Senior: 92 or more
  • How are GPAs calculated, and where can a find an online GPA calculator? 
  • Can I place out of a course (credit by examination)? 

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Graduation

  • How and when do I apply for graduation? 
    • Apply for graduation at the beginning of the semester or summer session in which you are completing the last courses you need to complete your curriculum requirements
    • There are two steps for graduation check-out
      • Submit a graduation request in My Pack
      • Notify the Undergraduate Director in Physics (David Brown)
    • After these steps are completed, you will receive email communications from the university and department about graduation-related details
  • Where and when are the departmental and university graduation ceremonies?
    • Information about the university graduation ceremony can be found here: 
      http://www.ncsu.edu/registrar/graduation/index.html
    • The physics graduation ceremony will take place in Riddick 301 at 1:30 pm on the same day as the university ceremony. A reception in the Hearth will follow

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Humanities/Social Sciences

  • What are the humanity/social science requirements for the physics curriculum?
    • All physics students are required to satisfy the General Education Program (GEP) requirements. These requirements include courses in humanities, social sciences, and other categories. See the GEP section of your degree audit.

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Teaching high school Physics

  • How can I become a high school physics teacher? 
    • There is a shortage of well-qualified high school physics teachers in North Carolina and the US. A physics major can choose among several paths to become a high school physics teacher. If you are interested in a teaching career make an appointment with Dr. David Haase who can update you on the opportunities and help you navigate towards the classroom.

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Labs

  • Do I need to take the CH 201 lab (CH 202) for my physics major? 
    • Not with the most recent degree requirements

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Matriculation

  • What are the matriculation requirements for PY?
    • Matriculation into the Physics program requires successful completion of a physics class for physics majors (i.e., 201, 202, 203, 411, 413).

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Minors

  • Can I get a minor in physics?
    • Requirements
      • Completion of 17 hours of coursework in Physics
      • A grade of 'C' or better in all courses used for the minor.

    • Required Courses (11 - 12 credit hours)
    • Elective Courses (6 credit hours)
      • Select 2 of the following courses:
        • PY 328 (Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics (3 cr)
        • PY 413 Thermal Physics (3 cr) 
        • PY 341 Space time Physics (3 cr)
        • NOTE: Some upper level physics courses (PY 401 and 402, PY411 and 412, PY 414 and 415, and the PY 500 level courses) may be substituted for the courses in this group. Students must have prior written approval from the minor adviser listed below in order to exercise this option
  • How do I finalize my minor when I have completed all the courses? 
    • You should finalize your minor at the same time you apply for graduation.
  • How do I initiate a physics minor?
    • After completing 407 or 203, fill out a minor declaration form and bring it to the Undergraduate secretary in Riddick 204. After approval by the Physics Department, bring it to Registration & Records.
    • The minor will be designated on your official transcript at the same time your degree is conferred.

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Pre-registration Advising

  • When does pre-registration advising begin and how do I get advised? 
    • Students should check their Enrollment Dates in MyPack Portal for specific time and date: Student Self Service > Enrollment > Enrollment Dates
    • Students should make an appointment to meet with their academic advisor before their scheduled enrollment date
  • I have an advising hold on my account. How do I get it removed? 
    • Meet with your advisor. Every student must meet with their academic advisor each semester to discuss their academic progress and plans for the following semester before they will be allowed to register for classes.
  • I tried to register, but My Pack says I do not have a valid enrollment date. Why is this?
    • You are trying to register before your enrollment date.
    • Check My Pack for your enrollment day and time.

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Transfer Courses

  • I have taken or plan to take a course at another college that I intend to transfer to meet one of my physics curriculum requirements. How can I make sure the course will transfer? (This includes study abroad.) 
    • First, check the list of pre-approved transfer courses for NC Community Colleges or other colleges/universities. If the course does not appear on either list, it will have to be evaluated for equivalence
    • You must provide a complete syllabus, textbook list, and graded coursework (if the course has been completed already) for evaluation. These materials should be submitted to the department responsible for the course that you intend to substitute
    • To transfer your course to NCSU, have an official copy of your transcript sent to the Office of Registration & Records

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Undergraduate Research

  • I am interested in doing undergraduate research. How do I get started? 
    • Undergraduate students may take PY 499 (Undergraduate Research in Physics) with any PY professor of their choosing
    • See the undergraduate research web page.

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Withdrawal

  • I plan to or have withdrawn from NCSU. Will the credits I’ve already earned expire, and how can I enroll if I decide to return? 
    • The credits you earn at NCSU do not have an expiration date
    • A student who withdraws in good standing (GPA 2.0 or higher) may return any time
    • Students who withdraw between semesters need only to drop all of their courses for the up-coming semester to be considered withdrawn
    • Students who withdraw in the middle of a semester should make an appointment with the University Counseling Center for assistance

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