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Physics and Astronomy

Transferring to Sac State's Physics Programs

There are a few things that you should consider to make your transfer to our program as seamless and efficient as possible. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please send us an email at

Our programs require quite a few lower-division courses which are available at the community college. The more that you complete while there, the easier things will be when you get here. You can check out equivalencies between California Community Colleges and the California State University at

The most important courses to get out of your way are (Sac State course numbers are in parentheses):

  • Three semesters of Calculus (Math 30, 31, 32)
  • Three semesters of Calculus-based Physics (Physics 11A, 11C, 11B)

If you have earned an Associates Degree for Transfers (AST) in physics from a California Community College, these six courses will have been satisfied. But there are a few other courses that you may want to consider adding above and beyond the AST to ensure that you're prepared for upper division coursework: 

  • Differential Equations (Math 45)
  • Two semesters of Chemistry (Chemistry 1A, 1B)

These lower division classes are required for our degrees. In particular, the Differential Equations course serves as a prerequisite for several upper-division classes in physics. The chemistry classes do not serve as prereqs for any classes in the physics major, but they are in extremely high demand at Sac State and it has been challenging at time for students to enroll in the class. If you have completed an AST degree, you should be able to graduate with our BA with 60 units here at Sac State, but without having completed Differential Equations, it will be difficult to arrange these classes into four consecutive semesters.

If you are an overachiever, there are a couple of other classes that you might consider that we don't require, but do often suggest that our majors take:

  • Introduction to Programming [i.e. Introduction to C, C++, Python, FORTRAN, etc.]
  • Linear Algebra (Math 35)
  • Introduction to Astronomy (Astronomy 4A or 4B)

Again, these are not required as part of any of our programs, but we've found that students who have had one or more of these classes tend to move through our program more efficiently.

Of course, you may not have any of these classes completed prior to coming to Sac State. Keep in mind that due to the highly sequential nature of our classes, significant time might be added to your time to degree if you haven't taken these classes before joining us. Oh, and take the time to look over our suggestions for Freshmen. This info is useful to everyone and it doesn't hurt to be reminded of it.

I have earned a degree in another field but have realized that I want to go back to school to earn a second degree (i.e. a post-baccalaureate degree) in physics. How do I do this?

In recent years, Sacramento State's policy has been a severe restriction in the admission of "post-bac" students. While frustrating, it is a policy based on ensuring adequate access to classes for those earning their first degree. Given the size of our program, we may have an argument that we can make to our friends in Admissions to provide some access to students interested in pursuing a post-bac, but we can only pursue this if all lower-division major coursework has already been completed and there is strong evidence for success based on the performance in those classes. Please contact for more information.