To succeed in Physics, students will need to display a keen intellectual curiosity that pushes them to ask questions and seek answers about the physical world around them and the universe beyond. Students should have strong critical thinking and analytical skills along with the ability to work independently and as part of a team.
Studying physics offers a unique opportunity to better understand the physical world and the laws that govern it. The Physics Department offers a wide range of courses that fulfill General Education requirements for a variety of majors. The department also offers courses in Astronomy.
We also offer two Associate of Science Degrees in Physics that can help you create a clear path for transfer to a four-year institution. The applications for a degree in physics are broad, including a variety of careers in the sciences and engineering. Many jobs in physics require a Ph.D., so the program at Skyline College is a good launching point for pursuing education at a four-year university.
Physicists spend much of their time working in offices and conducting research in laboratories and observatories. Most physicists work full time. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Physicists in California make an average of $114,450 per year.
Looking for a list of classes offered this semester? Check out the current class schedule.
PHYS 100 Conceptual Physics (3 units)
A conceptual introduction to physics, intended to foster scientific understanding of the world. Stresses important and applicable topics in motion, force, oscillations, fluids, thermodynamics, waves, electricity, magnetism, light and modern physics. Some students may wish to use it as extra preparation for algebra-based physics. (Formerly offered as PHYS 105.)
PHYS 101 Conceptual Physics Laboratory (1 units)
A laboratory exploration of physical phenomena covered in Conceptual Physics lecture (PHYS 105). Intended to reinforce those topics through hands-on investigation and develop an understanding of the scientific method. May be taken concurrently or after Physics 100. (Formerly offered as PHYS 106.)
PHYS 114 Survey of Chemistry and Physics (4 units)
A conceptual survey of physical science (physics and chemistry) intended for non-science majors at the General Education level. A general discussion of the scientific method and techniques will be followed by physics, chemistry, and integrated topics. The laboratory portion will cover a hands-on exploration of phenomena discussed in lecture. The physics component of the course will discuss motion, force, energy, electricity and magnetism, waves and light. The chemistry component of the course will focus on chemicals and reactions common in everyday life. Concepts relating to the nature and interactions of atoms, ions, and molecules will be presented. Students will also learn to use and evaluate information presented on product labels, in advertisement, and available through the internet. Also listed as CHEM 114.
PHYS 210 General Physics I (4 units)
The first course of a two-course sequence of algebra/trigonometry-based physics. Designed for students majoring in certain fields of letters and science, and required of those planning to enter medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, agriculture or forestry. Covers mechanics, fluids, waves and thermodynamics. The laboratory portion covers measurement and analysis of phenomena discussed in lecture. NOTE: Depending on the transfer institution, different STEM majors may require students to complete PHYS 210 and PHYS 211. Please note that PHYS 211 has a MATH 242 or 252 pre-requisite, so we highly recommend meeting with an academic counselor to discuss requirements.
PHYS 211 General Physics I-Calculus Supplement (1 units)
Further depth and application of calculus to topics in PHYS 210. Examples include derivatives and integrals of equations of motion, work done by a variable force, and torque as a cross product. Required of some pre-medical, biology, and architecture students.
PHYS 220 General Physics II (4 units)
The second course of a two-course sequence of algebra/trigonometry-based physics. Designed for students majoring in certain fields of letters and science, and required of those planning to enter medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, agriculture or forestry. Covers electricity, magnetism, light and modern physics. The laboratory portion covers measurement and analysis of phenomena discussed in lecture. NOTE: Depending on the transfer institution, different STEM majors may require students to complete PHYS 220 and PHYS 221. Please note that PHYS 221 has a MATH 242 or 252 pre-requisite, so we highly recommend meeting with an academic counselor to discuss requirements.
PHYS 221 Gen Physics II - Calculus Supplement (1 units)
Further depth and application of calculus to topics in PHYS 220. Examples include surface integrals for Gauss’s Law, line integrals for Ampere’s Law, classical wave equation. Required of some premedical, biology, and architecture students.
PHYS 250 Physics with Calculus I (4 units)
The first course of a three course sequence of calculus-based physics. Designed to give students majoring in engineering, physics or chemistry a thorough foundation in the fundamentals of physics. Covers classical mechanics, fluids, and wave motion. The laboratory portion covers measurement and analysis of phenomena discussed in lecture.
PHYS 260 Physics with Calculus II (4 units)
The second course of a three course sequence of calculus-based physics (may also be taken as the third course). Designed to give students majoring in engineering, physics or chemistry a thorough foundation in the fundamentals of physics. Covers electricity, magnetism, special relativity and electromagnetic waves. The laboratory portion covers measurement and analysis of phenomena discussed in lecture.
PHYS 270 Physics with Calculus III (4 units)
The third course of a three course sequence of calculus-based physics (may also be taken directly after PHYS 250). Designed to give students majoring in engineering, physics or chemistry a thorough foundation in the fundamentals of physics. Covers thermodynamics, optics and modern physics. The laboratory portion covers measurement and analysis of phenomena discussed in lecture.
PHYS 695 Independent Study in Physics (0.5- 3 units)
Designed for students who are interested in furthering their knowledge via self-paced, individualized instruction provided in selected areas or directed study to be arranged with instructor and approved by the division dean using the Independent Study Form. Varying modes of instruction can be used -- laboratory, research, skill development, etc. For each unit earned, students are required to devote three hours per week throughout the semester. Students may take only one Independent Study course within a given discipline.
General Education (GE) Courses
Conceptual Physics (PHYS 105) and Conceptual Astronomy (ASTRO 100) are lecture courses intended to give you a first introduction to the study of the natural world. These courses are minimally mathematical. If you need to fulfill a GE laboratory requirement, you may also wish to consider Conceptual Physics Lab (PHYS 106) and/or Conceptual Astronomy Lab (ASTRO 101).
General Physics Sequence
One or both semesters of the general physics sequence (PHYS 210-220) are required of many life science majors, including most pre-health fields. Both courses have lecture and lab components which must be taken concurrently.
Entry into this sequence does not require any previous physics experience, but you must be proficient with algebra and trigonometry (pre-requisite of MATH 130 or equivalent.) As optional extra preparation for PHYS 210 (and/or to fulfill a GE requirement), you may wish to take PHYS 105 prior to starting this sequence.
If you wish to transfer to specific institutions, you may also be required to take the associated supplemental lectures (PHYS 211-221), which require Calculus (or Applied Calculus) as a pre-requisite.
Calculus Physics Sequence
One, two, or three semesters of the calculus-based physics sequence (PHYS 250-260-270) are required of physical science, engineering, computer science, and physics majors. All courses have lecture and lab components which must be taken concurrently.
Entry into this sequence does not require any previous physics experience, but Calculus must variously be taken as pre- or co-requisites (consult course catalog/schedule for details). If you feel that you may need additional extra preparation, you may wish to consider PHYS 105 or PHYS 210 depending on your comfort level.
If you are interested in majoring in physics, you should take the Calculus Physics sequence and continue your study of mathematics through the Calculus sequence (MATH 251-252-253), Linear Algebra (MATH 270), and Ordinary Differential Equations (MATH 275) to prepare for post-transfer upper division physics course work. Skyline offers a transfer degree in Physics which can give you a preferential advantage in transferring.
If you are interested in astronomy, you should strongly consider taking ASTRO 100/101 to gauge and confirm your interest in the field, though they are not always pre-requisites for majors courses. If you are interested in studying observational astronomy and/or theoretical astrophysics, you will need to major in physics (see above) and should direct your post-transfer upper division electives towards astronomy-related topics.
The Skyline College STEM Center brings together academic and student support services for students taking science, technology, engineering and math courses.
The center supports student success by ensuring students have access to resources such as academic tutoring, counseling services, a resource depository for STEM pathways and transfer, a hub for internships and work based learning opportunities, as well as a place where students and staff can collaborate and build a community and supportive connection.Check out the STEM Center
Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
- Draw on both conceptual understanding and (as appropriate to course level) mathematical techniques to find exact solutions to real-world physical phenomena
- Understand the scientific method and principle laws of physics, to sufficiently apply them in their future careers
- (as applicable) Conduct lab experiments to measure the physical behavior of the real world, and correctly interpret the conceptual and statistical implications of the experimental data
What is nEXO?
nEXO is an international nuclear physics experiment for detecting a special kind of radioactivity that has been theorized but never detected. If discovered it would answer many long-standing open questions about why the universe is how it is and how it came to be, and it could also offer some very important clues about the nature of dark matter.
If you would like more information about nEXO, you can visit the public website.
What does nEXO have to do with Skyline?
Skyline College Physics has received a grant from the US Dept of Energy to fund paid student traineeships for SMCCD students to participate in the R&D for the nEXO detector. This detector is an extremely complex instrument that is still under development, and will take years to design and build-- in fact, some of the technology it requires doesn't yet exist and still needs to be invented!
What do nEXO student trainees do?
As a nEXO student trainee you will work to produce various software and hardware products as needed to support the nEXO R&D that is happening at SLAC and at Stanford University, both of which, along with Skyline College, are nEXO collaborating institutions. In addition to the hands-on technical work, you will also be expected to contribute to nEXO’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Lastly, all nEXO student trainees will be given the opportunity to present their work at at least one national conference and will be required to present as a group at one Science in Action Seminar.
What are some further details about the position?
The position is paid at the student assistant base rate of $16.62 per hour, and it is a one year commitment. If selected, you would start off by working 36.25 hours per week during summer 2022 followed by 7.5 hours per week in fall 2022 and spring 2023. The work itself will consist of a mix of remote work via Zoom/email, hands-on hardware work in the physics and fab labs at Skyline, and in-person experimental activities at SLAC and/or Stanford, depending on the specific project(s) you are assigned to.
Who is eligible to become a nEXO student trainee?
Although priority is given to Promise Scholars, ETS scholars, and students who are members of any of our Learning Communities, we will entertain applications from any eligible STEM student currently enrolled at any of the SMCCCD colleges.
If you are fully eligible, you are accurately described as follows:
- You have passed or will have passed PHYS 250 before the start of Summer 2022.
- You are available for 36.25 hours per week to do hands-on work with Prof Wamba and Prof Hein, mostly face-to-face, for an 8 week period during Summer 2022, while enrolled for a minimum of 3 SMCCD summer course units.
- You will enroll for a minimum of 6 units at any of the SMCCD colleges in Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 while you work on nEXO for 7.5 hours per week, again mostly face-to-face.
I want in! How do I apply?
To apply, please send an email to Prof Kolo Wamba (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Prof Emilie Hein (email@example.com) stating your interest, declaring how you meet the eligibility criteria as listed above, and describing why you would be a good fit for this program.
Physics Jam is a FREE one-week intensive, fun and stimulating physics preparation program designed to:
- Prepare students for upcoming physics courses
- Train students to study and understand physics
- Familiarize students with understanding and analyzing physics word problems
- Build confidence in areas such as decomposing vectors, data analyzing, and use of trigonometry in physics
- Develop group study skills and connect with community of support
Thanks for attending Physics Jam in Fall 2022!
Physics Jam Dates & Course Numbers:
|Fall Jam (2 Sections)||August 1 - August 5, 2022||LSKL 894||CRN 97580 or CRN 97018|
Physics Jam Details
- Days: Mondays - Fridays
- Time: 1:00pm - 5:00pm
- Location: Room 7-305