Physics Placement Exams & Requirements

Most Engineering degrees at WashU require two semesters of calculus-based physics with lab.

Introductory Physics is split into separate lecture and lab courses. Physics 191 is a 3.0 credit lecture course and Physics 191L is the accompanying 1.0 credit laboratory. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that these courses be taken together. Students must complete both courses (Physics 191 and 191L for a total of 4.0 credits) to fulfill the requirements for engineering majors.

This requirement may be met in one of two ways:

  • Complete the Physics (L31) 191L/192L course sequence
  • Place out of introductory physics with AP credit

AP Credit for Physics

Physics 191 (Fall ONLY) and Physics 192 (Spring ONLY)

  • This is a calculus-based introduction to physics that provides an in-depth study of classical and modern physics, including an emphasis on relativity and quantum mechanics. Independent study, daily reading, daily and weekly homework assignments, and active class participation are integral components of this course sequence. More information about the structure of Physics 191 and 192 is on the course website.
  • Physics (L31) 191: Previous or concurrent enrollment in Calculus I (Math 131) required; previous or concurrent registration in Calculus II (Math 132) is strongly recommended.
  • Students who use AP credit to test out of the first semester of Physics may enroll in Physics 192 in the Spring semester.

First-Year Student Registration

Seats in Physics 191F have been reserved exclusively for incoming first-year students. All incoming first-year students interested in taking Physics 191 must enroll in the subset of Physics 191 lecture and lab courses with the "F" designation (e.g., Physics 191F-01 and Physics 191F-A). Do not register for the Physics 191 courses with a "U" designation – this is reserved for upperclassmen.

Spaces in the Physics 191F courses will be incrementally added throughout registration periods. You are strongly encouraged to register for an open section if it fits your schedule, even if it's not the ideal time. Due to the large number of students enrolling in Physics 191F, we will be unable to accommodate requests for placement in a full section for any reason other than unavoidable academic conflicts.

The option to waitlist for Physics 191F lecture and lab sections will not be available until the course becomes completely full.

Late Registering Students or Late Schedule Changes

After all first-year students have had the opportunity to register, the "U" and "F" courses will be combined into one course (e.g. Physics 191U-01 and Physics 191F-01 will simply become Physics 191-01). This will happen around the beginning of August. If a student decides to add Physics 191 after this time, the student should simply enroll in the combined Physics 191 course (e.g., Physics 191-01 and Physics 191-A). Students will be unable to enroll in the combined Physics 191 course before August; it will not be available as an option on Webstac.

Physics Lab Notes

Students must register for both a lecture and a lab. If you are unable to register for a lab section that fits their schedule, simply select an open section (even if it poses a conflict with your schedule). If a seat opens up in a section you prefer, modify your enrollment on Webstac using the Change (CHG) option and not the Drop option (this will cause you to lose your seat in both the lecture and lab). Lab sections will not begin until after Labor Day, so there will be time to resolve any lab scheduling conflicts once you arrive on campus. Details will be provided in lecture on the first day of class.

Honors Physics

Students with an interest in a major in physics, engineering, or mathematics and who have a strong AP physics background should consider enrolling in Physics 201: Honors Problem Solving 1 in addition to Physics 191. Physics 201 is designed as a 1 credit supplement to Physics 191. Students will work on more challenging and sophisticated problems than those covered in Physics 191, but the topics will be directly linked to the Physics 191 material covered during the week.