Many colleges and universities offer online physics classes as part of degree programs or as standalone offerings for self-enrichment. Many are available completely online, though some may have a blended format. Online physics classes usually fall under either classical physics or modern physics. Some online physics classes have regular assignments with specific due dates, while others may be more flexible in nature. Online classes can be conducted in several ways, including streaming video and course delivery systems such as Blackboard. Some classes may require on-campus lab work.
Classical Physics Class Descriptions
Classical physics refers to physics theories that were developed by Isaac Newton and his contemporaries before 1900. It looks at the phenomena of heat, light, sound, motion, electricity, gravity and magnetism. Depending on the school, students taking online classes may be required to commute periodically to campus for lab work. The following descriptions highlight the typical curriculum of some common online classical physics classes.
General Physics I
Students study fluids, thermodynamics, vibrations, waves and mechanics. Problem solving and precise measuring skills are emphasized. This course is generally algebra-based.
General Physics II
This physics class can be either algebra-based or calculus-based depending on the school. Students generally study magnetism, electricity and optics.
This calculus-based class introduces students to the study of motion. Students learn about rigid body motion and oscillatory motion in addition to studying the motion of particles and waves.
Modern Physics Class Descriptions
Modern physics encompasses complex topics such as relativity, particle properties, atomic structures and quantum mechanics. It usually has prerequisites in calculus and beginning physics courses. Since much of the laboratory work can be performed by computer, online modern physics classes are usually taken entirely outside the classroom. Below are the summaries of some common online modern physics classes.
Concepts in Physics
Students in this class learn the physics behind the function of ordinary objects. Topics of study may include light, sound, magnetism, electricity, relativity, thermodynamics and the structure of matter.
Topics in this advanced class include waves and particles as properties of matter, atomic structure, relativity, quantum mechanics and cosmology. Students focus on problem solving and 20th century physics concepts.
This advanced medical physics class focuses on the production of radiation. Students study nuclear and atomic structures, quantum mechanics, radioactivity, x-ray production, energy loss mechanisms and secondary processes.
Students interested in classical or modern physics can find many courses online, such as radiation physics and classical mechanics. Classical physics courses may require some in-person components, while modern physics courses can typically be completed fully online.