Welcome to the North Park University Physics and Engineering Department

FAQ of Recommended Physics Courses For First-Years

Should I take physics my first year?

When you take a physics class, you learn how to think analytically through a problem, a skill that is of value regardless of your major.

If you are considering a science or science-related (e.g. pre-professional such as pre-med, pre-vet, pre-dent, physical therapy, etc.) major/minor, we recommend you take Introduction to Physics (PHYS 1210) your first year. This will enable you to have as many options open as possible with regards to fulfilling your academic goals. You do not have to be a biology major to be a pre-professional student. You might want to consider majoring in physics or chemistry as your preparation for medical school. Because Introduction to Physics is a pre-requisite for all upper-level physics courses, in addition to satisfying a requirement for medical school admission, by taking it early you have more options when choosing your major.

If you are not a science or science-related major, taking physics your first year can be a challenging and fun introduction to the physical sciences. Besides, who knows? You might like it and decide to major in it. For more information, see "Course Planning in Math and Science," for advice for all students as to what math and science courses to take at North Park.

Is physics hard?

Yes. You will be challenged and you will work hard. But you will also be supported every step of the way. And you will have the joy of knowing you accomplished something worthwhile. In your physics classes we will help you learn not only the basic material, but how to manage your time and how to study. These skills will help in all of your subsequent classes.

What physics course should I take in my first year?

If you are NOT considering majoring/minoring in physics or engineering

Question Advice of course(s) to take if "yes"
Was your last high school math course arithmetic (e.g. positive and negative numbers, +/-/×/÷, fractions)? Light (PHYS 1020).
Was your last high school math course algebra or geometry? Light (PHYS 1020), Physics of Sports (PHYS 1050), or Astronomy (PHYS 1060).
Was your last high school math course trigonometry? College Physics (PHYS 1110), Physics of Sports (PHYS 1050), Astronomy (PHYS 1060), or Climate Dynamics (PHYS 1070).
Was your last high school math class Pre-Calculus? Calculus I (MATH 1510) along with Introduction to Physics I (PHYS 1210).
Was your last high school math class Calculus I? Introduction to Physics I (PHYS 1210).
Was your last high school math class Calculus II? Introduction to Physics I (PHYS 1210).
Did you score a 4 or 5 on the Physics B AP exam (or take the equivalent amount of physics in high school)?* Introduction to Physics I (PHYS 1210) or Introduction to Physics II (PHYS 1220).
Did you score a 4 or 5 on both parts of the Physics C AP exam?* Introduction to Physics II (PHYS 1220) or any physics course 2000 or higher.

*NOTE: In order to get credit for your AP exam it is required that you meet with the chair of the Physics Department. This is so that we can discuss which course would be appropriate for you.

The recommendations in the above grid for math courses assume that you have met the curricular, ACT, and Math Placement standards set by the Math Department for placement into those courses.

If you ARE considering majoring/minoring in physics or engineering

You should take PHYS 1210 and PHYS 1220 as outlined on the course planning sheet for the major. Further information can be found on the Physics Department web site's Program Handbook for Students.

Why do you recommend some students take a 2 sh physics class to satisfy their General Education requirement while you recommend other students take a 4 sh physics class for the same purpose (and Calculus too)?

We recommend students with stronger mathematics backgrounds from high school to take the more rigorous physics courses to help satisfy their General Education requirements. This will more thoroughly challenge you, giving you the best value for your tuition and time. This will also enable you to keep your major/minor options open as the 4 sh introductory/college physics classes are the entry points to not only physics and engineering but also satisfy a requirement for professional school admission.

The 2 sh physics courses, 1070 and lower, are designed for students who are less well-prepared in math or science. PHYS 1070 assumes proficiency in trigonometry, and all lower numbered physics courses assume proficiency in arithmetic and elementary algebra and nothing else. If you have had pre-calculus or calculus in high school, please do not take these courses. You will make it harder for the students who have not had as much math preparation in high school to succeed in those courses, because it is very difficult for the instructor to successfully teach two very different communities of students in the class.

Let's be honest. If you are entering college with a strong mathematics background, you will not find the 2 sh physics classes difficult. Okay, so it would be the easiest way to satisfy your physics General Education requirement. But is that why you're in college, to find the easiest way to do things? North Park offers a liberal arts education, where you have the opportunity to attain competence in many fields. If you have the high-school preparation to enable you to do so, why not take the more rigorous route?

Updated: Wednesday, 30-Jul-2008 16:35:29 PDT. Disclaimer. Valid CSS, HTML. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.