Majors and Courses


The biophysics major integrates the physical principles that are part of the core material found in a traditional physics major with areas of interest in the life sciences.  Offering many possible avenues via molecular/cellular, biomechanical, organismal and/or physiological sequences, the major is appropriate for students interested in attending graduate school in physics or biophysics and provides a solid background for students planning a career in the health fields.

Major Requirements

1.  BIOL 043LKS – Introductory Biology-BIOL 044LKS – Introductory Biology
2.  CHEM 014LKS – Basic Principles of Chemistry-ChEM 015LKS – Basic Principles of Chemistry, or CHEM     029LKS – Accelerated General Chemistry
3.  PHYS 030LKS – General Physics-PHYS 031LKS – General Physics,
PHYS 033LKS – Principles of Physics-PHYS 034LKS – Principles of Physics
4.  PHYS 035KS – Modern Physics
5.  PHYS 178KS – Biophysics
6.  MATH 032CM – Calculus III
7. Differential Equations 
8.  One computer programming course (CS 05HM – Computer Programming and Problem Solving; CSCI 051CM – Introduction to Computer Science, or PHYS 108KS-Programming for Science and Engineering)


  • Requirements 1, 2, and 3 will also be completed by both semesters of the Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence.
  • Requirement 4 – For Biophysics majors, PHYS 030LKS-PHYS 031LKS may substitute as a prerequisite for PHYS 033LKS-PHYS 034LKS.

Biophysics Sequence

1.  Three (3) upper-division courses from Biology, at least one of which must include a laboratory component.  Organic Chemistry, CHEM 116LKS, may be substituted for one of the three upper-division Biology courses, but one of the remaining two (2) upper-division Biology courses must still include a laboratory component.
2.  Two (2) upper-division physics courses.
3.  A one- or two-semester thesis.

A study abroad experience is strongly encouraged but not required.


    • Requirement 2 – For Biophysics majors, PHYS 030LKS-PHYS 031LKS may substitute as a prerequisite for PHYS 033LKS-PHYS 034LKS.

    Keck Science Common Learning Outcomes

    Students completing a major in the Keck Science Department should demonstrate the ability to:

    1. Use foundational principles to analyze problems in nature.
    2. Develop hypotheses and test them using quantitative techniques.
    3. Articulate applications of science in the modern world.
    4. Effectively communicate scientific concepts both verbally and in writing.

    Student Learning Outcomes:

    Students who have completed a major in Biophysics, when confronted with a natural phenomenon, should be able to examine, model and analyze the system and effectively communicate the findings.
    Specifically, students should be able to:
    1. Develop a conceptual framework for understanding the system by identifying the key physical principles, relationships, and constraints underlying the system;
    2. If required, develop a physical experiment to analyze the system within the framework. This includes:

    • Designing the experiment;
    • Making basic order-of-magnitude estimates;
    • Working with standard data-measuring devices such as oscilloscopes, digital multi-meters, signal generators, etc.;
    • Identifying and appropriately addressing the sources of systematic error and statistical error in their experiment;

    3. Translate that conceptual framework into an appropriate mathematical format/model;
    4. (a) If the mathematical model/equations are analytically tractable, carry out the analysis of the problem to completion (by demonstrating knowledge of and proficiency with the standard mathematical tools of physics and engineering).
         (b) If the model/equations are not tractable, develop a computer code and/or use standard software/programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, Maple, Python) to numerically simulate the model system.
    5. Use with proficiency standard methods of data analysis (e.g., graphing, curve-fitting, statistical analysis, Fourier analysis, etc.).
    6. Intelligently analyze, interpret, and assess the reasonableness of the answers obtained and/or the model’s predictions.
    7. Effectively communicate their findings (either verbally and/or via written expression) to diverse audiences.