Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyClass of 2018
The First Year at MIT

First-Year Academics: Physics

Physics concepts are vital for study in every other science and in all engineering fields. To provide a solid mathematical foundation, MIT has a two-subject General Institute Requirement in physics.

To fulfill the Physics GIR, you must receive credit for both introductory physics subjects, 8.01 Physics I and 8.02 Physics II. Which versions of Physics I and II you take will depend on your background and interests.

View the Core Blitz video: Nergis Mavalvala Presentation


You can fulfill the Physics requirements in the following ways:

8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics with the following options:

Placement into 8.01 (Physics I) will depend on the results of the Math Diagnostic for Physics Placement, a mandatory paper/pencil test given during Orientation. If you have AP credit for 8.01, you do not need to sit for the Math Diagnostic.

Physics II: 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism with the following options:

You cannot enroll in 8.02 until you have received credit for both 8.01 and 18.01 (Calculus I). Both 8.02 and 8.022 are offered in Fall and Spring terms.

  • 8.02 presents the material using the TEAL format.
  • 8.022 is taught at a more mathematically advanced level and is intended for students with a strong background in physics and math. It is offered in both Fall and Spring.

For more information on these subjects, visit the Online Subject Listing and Schedule and the Physics Department's Undergraduate FAQs.

Advanced Standing Exams in Physics

The Physics Advanced Standing Exams (ASEs) will be held during Orientation in August. Physics Validation Exams for transfer credit will be offered at the same time as the Physics ASEs.

  • A passing grade on the 8.01 ASE will give credit for Physics I.
  • A passing grade on the 8.02 ASE will give credit for Physics II.

Details about time and place will be in the Hitchhiker's Guide to Orientation, which you will receive when you arrive on campus.