First-year Physics Students

Academic Information for First-Year Physics and Engineering Students

If you are a prospective students thinking about studying physics or engineering at Gordon, the information below gives you a general idea of what your freshman year might look like. Be assured that as a student on campus, you will work closely with your academic advisor to ensure you are taking the right courses at the right times.

Majoring in Physics and Choosing a Concentration

If your primary interest is in physics or engineering and you plan to earn a bachelor’s degree after studying for four years at Gordon, you should major in physics and choose one of our three physics concentrations:

  • our professional physics concentration, appropriate for most of our students
  • our computation physics concentration, for students who have a special interest in the use of computers in physics
  • our engineering physics concentration, for students with an interest in engineering, applied physics, or technology

If you want to participate in our 3-2 engineering program, you will study for three years at Gordon, transfer to an engineering school, and eventually earn two bachelor’s degrees. You should major in physics while at Gordon and choose our engineering physics concentration.

First-Year Courses for Your Physics Major

Typically during each semester, you will take one or more physics, mathematics, or science courses and one or more Core Curriculum courses. During an average semester you will take approximately four courses, many of which meet for three hours per week, not counting lab time.

During the fall semester of your first year, you will take PHY121 Introductory Physics I, MAT141 Calculus I, and two Core Curriculum courses. If you choose our engineering physics concentration, you will also take PHY125 Introduction to Engineering. 

During the spring semester, you will take PHY122 Introductory Physics II, Mat142 Calculus II, Mat223 Calculus III, and a Core Curriculum class. If you choose our professional or computational physics concentration, you will also take PHY130 First-Year Physics Seminar.

The above course schedule assumes you have no Advanced Placement college credit; if you do then you would take one or more sophomore level physics or mathematics courses your first year.

The Core Curriculum

Gordon’s Core Curriculum is a critically important set of courses all Gordon students must take, in addition to the courses in their major. The courses you take for your physics major will give your education depth in one discipline. The Core Curriculum courses will give your education breadth across a range of disciplines.

During your first year at Gordon, here are some of the Core Curriculum courses you will probably be taking:

COR107 The Great Conversation—required of first-year students
BCM101 Old Testament
BCM102 New Testament
PHI118 The Examined Life



Course Schedules for Physics Majors (PDF)
Master Couse Schedule for Physics majors, including 3-2 Engineering Students