Summer School

Approval Process for Summer Physics Courses

Each summer, a number of JHU undergraduates take required physics courses at JHU and other universities. Students should be aware of the following:

1) Physics is unlike many subjects in that students are expected to learn a new mode of thinking. There are a number of basic ideas that must be understood in great detail. Students must learn to apply these ideas to a broad spectrum of problems to develop mastery of the material.
2) The key point is that time is necessary for grappling with the ideas and for developing the thinking skills. Summer courses are so compressed (a 14-week course given in only 4–

5 weeks) that it can be very challenging to have a meaningful pedagogical experience.

3) Medical schools are fully aware of the shortcomings of summer physics courses.
4) For these reasons, physics majors are not allowed to use summer physics courses (including JHU summer physics courses) to satisfy degree requirements.
5) Other JHU undergraduates are counseled to avoid summer physics courses if possible.

Should you wish to take a summer course at another institution, it must conform to the same standards as JHU’s summer courses. We will approve courses that satisfy the following requirements:

a) The course must be “calculus-based.” All “algebra-based” courses will be rejected.

b) The course should be a summer version of a semester course. Courses at universities on the quarter system are generally not acceptable. (There are some exceptions to this rule and in some cases, it is possible to take three quarter courses to replace two semester courses.)

c) A substitute course for 171.101 or 171.103 should include the following topics: mechanics, waves and vibrations, and fluids.

d) A substitute course for 171.102 or 171.104 should include the following topics: electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics.

Approval Procedure: Please check our list of known courses.

I) If you find the course listed with a

“Not Acceptable”

label, your course will not be approved. Try another school in the same geographical vicinity. Surprisingly good courses can often be found in unexpected places.
II) If you find the course listed with an


label, see the departmental academic coordinator, Carmelita King (, x7344, Bloomberg 366K) for a signature.
III) If the course is not listed, please see Professor Morris Swartz (, x5159, Bloomberg 427).