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Chemistry, Math, & Physics

For most subjects, you can determine from the course numbering the preferred sequence. For Chemistry, Math, and Physics, the course numbering is more complex and different sequences are intended for different kinds of study. 

Physics

There are three introductory physics pathways:

  • PHYS 110 - Liberal Arts Physics
  • PHYS 114, 115, 116 – General Physics
  • PHYS 121, 122, 123 - Mechanics, Electromagnetism/Oscillatory Motion, Waves

Students take one of these pathways. Credit is not allowed for both the PHYS 114 and PHYS 121 sequences.

All three courses in the PHYS 114 and 121 sequences are offered every quarter, including summer. There is also an honors section of the PHYS 121 sequence, starting only in autumn quarter.

What Physics course should I take?

  • PHYS 110 is taken by non-science students who want a one-quarter "liberal arts" introduction to physics. Students planning on science majors should not take PHYS 110.
  • Students planning on biological majors and premed students usually take the PHYS 114 series.
  • Students planning on engineering, computer science, or physical science majors take the PHYS 121 series.
  • Pre-science students with strong backgrounds in high school math, chemistry, and physics should consider the honors section of PHYS 121.

Prerequisites

PHYS 114 has no prerequisite, although college algebra (MATH 120) and high school physics are recommended; students who didn't take a year of high school physics can take a remedial high school physics course at any community college. You must take PHYS 114 before 115, and 115 before 116.

The prerequisite to PHYS 121 is the first quarter of college calculus (MATH 124, 134, or 145), which may be taken concurrently. In other words, you can take PHYS 121 and MATH 124 in the same quarter. High school physics is also recommended. The prerequisites to PHYS 122 are PHYS 121 and the second quarter of calculus (which may be concurrent). The prerequisites to PHYS 123 are PHYS 122 and the third quarter of calculus (which may be concurrent).

In the both the PHYS 114 and PHYS 121 series, students who are "in sequence" have registration priority over other students. During Period 1, when continuing UW students register, only students currently taking PHYS 114 or 121 are allowed to register in PHYS 115 or 122, respectively; and only students currently taking PHYS 115 or 122 are allowed to register in PHYS 116 or 123, respectively. Other eligible students are allowed to register in Period 2. You should keep this in mind when you plan your classes; it will be easier to register for physics if you take all three quarters in a row with no breaks.

No High School Physics?

The UW doesn't offer an introductory course for students who didn't have high school physics. This generally isn't a problem with the PHYS 114 sequence, which is usually taken in the student's third or fourth year of college. By this time your coursework in college chemistry and math will more than make up for the lack of high school physics.

Students who didn't have high school physics should take at least the first quarter of chemistry (CHEM 142 or 145) before taking PHYS 121. It also helps to start college calculus at least one quarter before starting the PHYS 121 sequence, so that calculus concepts are well mastered before you need them in the PHYS 121 sequence.

Placement tests

There is no placement test in physics.

AP and IB scores

Students with scores of 4 or 5 on the AP Physics exams receive college credit. See theAP tables for the specific credit awards.

Students with scores of 5, 6, or 7 on the IB Physics exam receive 15 credits for the PHYS 114 sequence. See the IB tables for the specific credit award.

Physics labs

PHYS 114, 115, 116 is a lecture series. The accompanying one-credit laboratory courses are PHYS 117, 118, 119. Majors that require the PHYS 114 sequence may or may not require the labs. The labs are recommended for students planning on applying to professional schools, including medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.

PHYS 121, 122, 123 is a combination lecture/lab series. Unlike most lecture/lab courses, in this physics sequence you must register separately for one lecture, one quiz/tutorial section, and one lab section. In the Time Schedule, lectures will be indicated by a single letter (e.g., A, B, C, D); quiz/tutorial sections will be indicated by two letters (e.g., AA, AB, BA, BB) and the QZ designation; and lab sections will be indicated by two letters or a letter and a number (e.g., AY, AZ, A1, A2) and the LB designation.

Physics lab courses require a separate lab fee, which will be included in your tuition bill.

Physics transfer credit

If your physics courses transferred as direct equivalents — they are posted as PHYS 121, etc. — then you may register for the next course in the sequence. If your courses transferred as "X credit" — PHYS 1XX, etc. — you need to speak with the physics department to determine which course you should take next. Contact a physics adviser for an appointment.

If you are enrolled in physics courses at another college and planning to transfer to the UW, we strongly encourage you to finish your physics sequence before transferring. The topics are seldom taught in exactly the same order at different colleges, and if you transfer mid-sequence you may miss some topics and duplicate others.

The transfer equivalencies for courses taken at Washington community colleges are listed in the UW Equivalency Guide for Washington Community and Technical Colleges.

Mathematics

The basic beginning college math sequences at the UW are MATH 111, 112 and MATH 120, 124. To register for either MATH 111 or 120 you must either pass a placement test or complete the noncredit algebra review course, MATH 098.

All the math courses required by UW majors, except the non-credit review course MATH 098, require either a prerequisite college math course or a passing score on a math placement test.

intermediate
algebra
 college algebra/
precalculus
 calculus
MATH 098 MATH 111 MATH 112
MATH 098 MATH 120 MATH 124, 125, 126
other calculus options

MATH 098

MATH 098, Intermediate Algebra, is a non-credit algebra review course. It's equivalent to the second year of high school algebra. MATH 098 isn't covered by your regular tuition; it requires a separate fee of about $405. For students taking the placement exam for the UW, approximately one quarter place into MATH 098.

Most students who place into MATH 098 are understandably unhappy about having to start with a non-credit review course that, insult added to injury, even costs extra money. Many students retake the placement test, attempting to place higher. (There are restrictions on how many times and when you can retest. See the placement test page for more information.) While you may wish to do this, it's usually a better idea to take MATH 098 and get a solid review of algebra. Most students find UW math courses to be much more challenging than high school math. In particular, the functions you were allowed to complete on a calculator in high school you'll be expected to understand and be able to do yourself in college math courses.

Although you receive no credit for MATH 098, resist the temptation to add an extra course to your schedule to "make up" the credit. MATH 098 will take at least as much of your time as any 5-credit course, and it does count as 5 credits toward the minimum 12 credits/quarter required by financial aid (be sure to alert the Office of Student Financial Aid)

MATH 111, 112

The MATH 111, 112 pathway is taken mainly by pre-business students. It's a "terminal" sequence, meaning that it doesn't lead into higher-level math courses. The MATH 111, 112 sequence is accepted by UW programs that require only one quarter of calculus, including business, the economics B.A., and microbiology.

If your math placement test score is high enough, you can skip MATH 098 and start with MATH 111. You can't skip MATH 111 — you must take MATH 111 before MATH 112.

MATH 120, 124

The MATH 120, 124 pathway is taken mainly by students interested in science and engineering majors, and students preparing for professional programs such as medical, dental, or veterinary school.

MATH 124 is the first quarter of a year of calculus: MATH 124, 125, 126. If your math placement test score is high enough, you can skip MATH 098 and start with MATH 120, or skip MATH 120 and start with MATH 124.

If you are considering some majors that require MATH 124 and other majors that accept MATH 112, you should take MATH 124. Some science majors require only one or two quarters of calculus; if you're planning on a science major but haven't decided which one yet, we recommend that you complete the whole year of calculus. This keeps all your options open.

UW offers several options to the MATH 124 sequence. See calculus options, below.

Crossing between pathways

You can't cross over between sequences. MATH 111 can't be used as a prerequisite to MATH 120 or 124, and MATH 120 can't be used as a prerequisite to MATH 112.

Calculus options

MATH 124, 125, 126 is one of four different calculus sequences offered by the UW. All require at least MATH 120 or a passing placement test score. All majors that require MATH 124, 125, 126 (or any part of the sequence) will also accept the MATH 124H and MATH 134H sequences. Check the requirements of the majors you are considering to see if the Q SCI 291 sequence would be a good option for you.

MATH 124, 125, 126 - Calculus with Analytic Geometry

An introduction to single- and multivariable calculus, with emphasis on modeling and word problems. Recommended for students interested in engineering, computer science, physical science, and biological science majors. More information is available at the math department's home page.

Q SCI 291, 292, 293 - Analysis for Biologists

Introductory calculus sequence with an emphasis on biological problems, particularly in ecology. Recommended for biological science majors, particularly programs in Forest Resources and Fisheries. More information is available from the Center for Quantitative Science.

MATH 124H, 125H, 126H - Calculus with Analytic Geometry (Honors)

A parallel sequence to MATH 124/5/6, but with less emphasis on modeling and more emphasis on mathematical technique. Recommended for students interested in math-intensive disciplines such as math, engineering, and sciences. More information is available at the math department's home page. Entry code required; contact the mathematics adviser. MATH 124H is offered in autumn quarter only.

MATH 134H, 135H, 136H - Accelerated (Honors) Calculus

Appropriate for students with strong enthusiasm and talent for mathematics. More information is available at the math department's home page. Admission by special permission only; contact the mathematics adviser. MATH 134H is offered in autumn quarter only.

Prerequisites

There are two special points about math prerequisites:

  • Not only must you take the prerequisite course, but you must achieve a minimum grade. This grade, usually 2.0 or 2.5, is indicated in the Course Descriptions.
  • Because you register for next quarter before you've finished this quarter's classes, you're allowed to register for the next course in the sequence while you have the prerequisite in progress. If you don't complete the prerequisite with the required grade, however, your registration in the next course will be cancelled.

Example: You must achieve at least a 2.5 grade in MATH 120 to continue on to MATH 124. If you register to take MATH 120 in autumn quarter you'll be allowed to register for MATH 124 for winter quarter, but if you receive a grade of 2.1 in MATH 120 your registration in MATH 124 will be cancelled and you'll be removed from the course. You must repeat MATH 120 and earn a higher grade (or pass the placement test, see below) to qualify to take MATH 124 in a later quarter.

Placement tests

You must have a passing score on a math placement test, or college credit for the prerequisite math course, to register for any UW math course numbered 111 or above. For more information, see our page on placement tests.

AP and IB scores

Your score on the College Board Advanced Placement Calculus exam can be used instead of a placement test to determine your math level. In fact, AP scores are the only way to qualify to start with the second or third college quarter of calculus; UW placement tests do not place students any higher than MATH 124.

See the AP tables for the chart of credit awards and placement for the Calculus AB and Calculus BC exams.

Students with scores of 4 or 5 may want to contact the math adviser for more information about the honors calculus sequences.

UW awards credit for International Baccalaureate Mathematics exam scores of 5 and above (Higher Level). See the IB tables for the chart of credit awards and placement for the Mathematics exam. 

Chemistry

There are three introductory chemistry pathways:

  • CHEM 120 — Principles of Chemistry
  • CHEM 142, 152, 162 — General Chemistry
  • CHEM 145, 155, 165 — Honors General Chemistry

In addition, we also offer CHEM 110 – Introduction to General Chemistry, for students who did not have high school chemistry or had it a long time ago, and plan to take CHEM 142.

Students take one of these pathways. Credit is not allowed for both CHEM 120 and 142, for example, or for both CHEM 120 and 145, or for both CHEM 142 and 145.

CHEM 142, 152, and 162 are offered every quarter, including summer. CHEM 142, 152, 162 is also available evenings if you start the sequence in autumn quarter. The CHEM 145 sequence starts only in autumn quarter.

What Chemistry course should I take?

  • CHEM 110. Students who plan to take CHEM 142 but didn't have high school chemistry, or took it a long time ago, take CHEM 110 before CHEM 142.
  • CHEM 120 is taken by students planning on majoring in nursing or another major that recommends this chemistry course.
  • Students planning on science or engineering majors and premed students take the CHEM 142 or 145 series.
  • CHEM 145. Students with a strong background in high school chemistry and an interest in chemistry or biochemistry as a major, and who have completed the first college quarter of calculus or will be taking it concurrently, should take the CHEM 145 series.

Read through the chemistry department's information for more detailed information. It is important that you have an adequate math background for the chemistry course you plan to take, and the department's recommendations are described there.

Organic Chemistry sequences

At the UW, you take organic chemistry (if required by your major) after you take introductory chemistry. There are four organic chemistry pathways:

  • CHEM 220 – Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 223, 224 – Organic Chemistry, Short Program
  • CHEM 237, 238, 239 – Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 335, 336, 337 – Honors Organic Chemistry

Students take one of these pathways. Credit is not allowed for both CHEM 220 and 223, or both CHEM 223 and 237, etc.

Unlike introductory chemistry, the organic chemistry courses are not offered every quarter. CHEM 220 is usually offered winter quarter, and the next course in the series, CHEM 221, is usually offered only spring quarter.

CHEM 223, 224 is an autumn, winter sequence. It is also offered intensively in summer quarter, CHEM 223 in the first half of the summer and 224 in the second half.

CHEM 237, 238, and 239 are offered most (but not all) quarters.

The CHEM 335 sequences starts only in autumn quarter.

CHEM 220 is taken by students planning on majoring in nursing or another major that recommends the CHEM 120, 220 (and sometimes 221) sequence. Most science majors that require organic chemistry will accept either the CHEM 223 or 237 sequence; check department websites and contact department advisers for recommendations. The CHEM 335 sequence is taken by strong science students looking for a challenging course, and is always accepted in place of the 223 or 237 sequence.

Prerequisites

There are two special points about chemistry prerequisites:

  • Not only must you take the prerequisite course, but you must achieve a minimum grade of 1.7.
  • Because you register for next quarter before you've finished this quarter's classes, you're allowed to register for the next course in the sequence while you have the prerequisite in progress. If you don't complete the prerequisite with the required grade, however, your registration in the next course will be cancelled.

Example: You must achieve at least a 1.7 grade in CHEM 142 to continue on to CHEM 152. If you register to take CHEM 142 in autumn quarter you'll be allowed to register for CHEM 152 in winter quarter, but if you receive a grade of 1.2 in CHEM 142 your registration in CHEM 152 will be cancelled and you'll be removed from the course. You must repeat CHEM 142 and earn a higher grade to qualify to take CHEM 152 in a later quarter.

Placement tests

A placement test is required only for CHEM 145. Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam, or a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB (Higher Level) exam, are not required to take the placement test. For the test schedule see the Testing Center website.

AP and IB scores

Students with scores of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam receive credit for courses in the CHEM 142 sequence. See the AP tables for the specific credit awards.

Students with AP scores of 4 or 5 are strongly encouraged to take the CHEM 145 sequence. Students who do so will, however, lose the AP credit because credit is not allowed for both the 142 and 145 sequences.

UW does not award credit for the International Baccalaureate Chemistry exam. Students with a score of 6, however, may skip CHEM 142 and start with CHEM 152. Students with a score of 7 may skip CHEM 142 and 152, and start with CHEM 162. As with AP scores, we strongly recommend that students take the CHEM 145 sequence instead of skipping courses.

Chemistry labs

CHEM 120, 220, 221, and the CHEM 142 and 145 sequences all include both a lecture and a laboratory in each course. Each schedule line number in the time schedule corresponds to one lecture/lab combination.

The labs that accompany the CHEM 223, 237, and 335 sequences, however, are separate courses. Some majors require the labs and some don't, although almost all majors at least recommend the labs. The prerequisite to the labs is the first quarter of the lecture series, so the labs are generally taken with the second and third quarters of lecture. Students taking the CHEM 223 and 237 sequences take the labs 241 and 242. Student taking the honors 335 sequence usually take the honors labs 346 and 347. CHEM 241 and 242 are offered most (but not all) quarters, and are available evenings in winter and spring quarters. CHEM 346 and 347 are offered only in winter and spring quarters.

All chemistry lab courses require a separate lab fee, which will be included in your tuition bill.

Chemistry transfer credit

If your chemistry courses transferred as direct equivalents — they are posted as CHEM 142, etc. — then (assuming you have the minimum prerequisite grade) you may register for the next course in the sequence. If your courses transferred as "X credit" — CHEM 1XX, etc. — you need to speak with a chemistry department adviser to determine which course you should take next. Contact the chemistry advising office for an appointment.

If you are enrolled in chemistry courses at another college and planning to transfer to the UW, we strongly encourage you to finish your chemistry sequence before transferring. The topics are seldom taught in exactly the same order at different colleges, and if you transfer mid-sequence you may miss some topics and duplicate others.

The transfer equivalencies for courses taken at Washington community colleges are listed in the UW Equivalency Guide for Washington Community and Technical Colleges.