Ronald J. Stern, Dean

180 Rowland Hall
Academic Counseling: (949) 824-6507
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Department of Chemistry

Department of Earth System Science

Department of Mathematics

Department of Physics and Astronomy

The School of Physical Sciences offers both professional training and general education in the Departments of Chemistry, Earth System Science, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy. The faculty, active in research and graduate education, are at the same time vitally concerned with undergraduate teaching. Curricula of the School are designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of students ranging from those with little technical background who seek insight into the activities and accomplishments of physical scientists to those seeking a comprehensive understanding that will prepare them for creative research in physical science.

Over the course of the past century and a half, physics, chemistry, and mathematics have evolved into interdependent but separate intellectual disciplines. This development is reflected in the departmental structure of the School of Physical Sciences. In the same period, these fundamental disciplines have moved into domains of abstraction unimagined by early scientists. This trend to abstraction with its concomitant increase in understanding of the physical universe provides the major challenge to the student of the physical sciences. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry, while providing the foundation of the technology that dominates contemporary civilization, underlie to an ever-increasing extent the new developments in the biological and social sciences. Earth system science is grounded in the traditional physical sciences while breaking new paths in the quantitative study of changes in the global environment.

Chemistry B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Earth and Environmental Sciences B.S.
Earth System Science M.S., Ph.D.
Mathematics B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Physics B.S., M.S., Ph.D.


Criteria used by the School of Physical Sciences in selecting candidates for honors at graduation are as follows: Approximately 1 percent will be awarded summa cum laude, 3 percent magna cum laude, and 8 percent cum laude. Honors are awarded on the basis of a student's performance in research, cumulative grade point average, and performance in upper-division courses in the major. Students considered for honors at graduation must have completed 72 units in residence at a University of California campus by the end of the winter quarter of the academic year in which they graduate. Other important factors are considered (see "Honors Convocation" in the Division of Undergraduate Education section). The School of Physical Sciences also grants special honors to students who have distinguished themselves by their work in their major subject.

Undergraduate Programs

Each department offers courses that are of value to nonmajors and majors in the sciences. The programs for majors are designed to meet the needs of students planning careers in business or industry, of students planning advanced professional study, and of students planning graduate work that continues their major interest. Students who wish to complete a coordinated set of courses beyond the introductory level in Mathematics and in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences may pursue minors in these areas. Introductory courses in chemistry, mathematics, and physics meet the needs of students majoring in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering and are also appropriate for students in other disciplines who seek a rigorous introduction to the physical sciences. In addition, a number of courses within the School have few or no prerequisites and are directed particularly toward students majoring in areas remote from the sciences.


Students who choose a major in the School of Physical Sciences have a variety of academic advising and counseling resources available to them. In addition to faculty advisors, there is a Chief Academic Advisor in each department who is responsible for interpreting degree requirements, reviewing student petitions, and assisting with special advising problems. An academic advising and counseling staff, employed in the Associate Dean's Office, is available to serve a broad range of student advising needs. In consultation with their faculty advisor or an academic counselor, students should plan a course of study leading to a major in one of the departments of the School. In carrying out this major, students may often concentrate very heavily in a second department within the School or in some other school. Occasionally students choose to pursue a double major. Permission to do so may be sought by a petition submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean of Physical Sciences.

All initial courses of study for majors include mathematics through calculus, and calculus is a prerequisite for much of the upper-division work in each major. A student interested in any of the physical sciences should continue mathematical training beyond these prerequisite courses. Furthermore, students interested in either physics or chemistry usually will include work in both of these subjects in their undergraduate careers.

Students in the physical sciences are urged to acquire a working knowledge of computer programming at an early stage of their University studies. This can be accomplished by taking Information and Computer Science 21, Chemistry 5, Engineering CEE10, MAE10, or Physics 53.


The majority of graduates continue their education beyond the Bachelor's degree level. Many pursue advanced academic degrees in preparation for careers in scientific or medical research, engineering, or postsecondary education. Other students will complete a secondary education credential in order to prepare for careers teaching high school mathematics and science. Some students enter professional school in areas such as medicine, dentistry, law, or business administration. Students who choose not to continue their studies beyond the baccalaureate level most frequently find employment in private business or industry. In addition to technical areas directly related to their major fields of study, students often enter careers in less obviously related fields such as computing, systems analysis, engineering, journalism, marketing, or sales.

The UCI Career Center provides services to students and alumni including career counseling, information about job opportunities, a career library, and workshops on resume preparation, job search, and interview techniques. See the Career Center section for additional information.


Preparation for Teaching Science and Mathematics

Students interested in teaching science and mathematics should consider the programs in science and mathematics education offered by the Departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy. The concentration in Chemistry Education, the Mathematics specialization in High School Teaching, and the concentration in Physics Education each provide strong grounding in the fundamentals of one discipline. At the same time, these programs emphasize the breadth in natural sciences needed to satisfy the requirements for the secondary teaching credential during the mandatory year of study following award of the B.S. degree. Each department's curriculum includes specialized instruction in effective methods of science teaching and provides opportunities for practical fieldwork experiences in a secondary school classroom. Detailed requirements for each program are provided in the departmental sections.

Campuswide Honors Program

The Campuswide Honors Program is available to selected high-achieving students from all academic majors from their freshman through senior years. For more information contact the Campuswide Honors Program, 1200 Student Services II; telephone (949) 824-5461; e-mail:; World Wide Web: http://www.

Education Abroad Program

Upper-division students have the opportunity to experience a different culture while making progress toward degree objectives through the Education Abroad Program (EAP). EAP is an overseas study program which operates in cooperation with host universities and colleges throughout the world. See the Center for International Education section for additional information.

Minor in Biomedical Engineering

The minor in Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes courses from the Schools of Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Biological Sciences. The minor is designed to provide a student in the physical sciences with the introductory skills needed in the quantitative biomedical arena. See The Henry Samueli School of Engineering section of the Catalogue for more information.

Minor in Conflict Resolution

The interdisciplinary minor in Conflict Resolution provides skills in conflict analysis and resolution and a useful understanding of integrative institutions at the local, regional, and international levels. See the School of Social Sciences section of the Catalogue for more information.

Minor in Global Sustainability

The interdisciplinary minor in Global Sustainability trains students to understand the changes that need to be made in order for the human population to live in a sustainable relationship with the resources available on this planet. See the Interdisciplinary Studies section of the Catalogue for more information.


114 Science Education Teacher Apprentice Field Experience (4) F, W, S. Students assist public school classroom teachers in laboratory demonstrations and experiments, tutoring individuals or small groups. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Same as Education 114. May be taken for credit twice.



University Requirements: See pages 56-61.

School Requirements: None.

Departmental Requirements: Refer to individual departments.

Graduate Programs

The School offers M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in the Departments of Chemistry, Earth System Science, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy. See the department sections for information.


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