Physics is a broad discipline, ranging from fundamental scientific questions to sophisticated technological applications. At its most basic, it is the study of matter and energy and their manifold interactions. Physicists study topics as wide-ranging as the underlying nature of space and time; the origins, large-scale structure, and future evolution of the universe; the behavior of stars and galaxies; the fundamental constituents of matter; the many different patterns in which matter is organized, including superconductivity, liquid crystals, or the various forms of magnetism in solids; the workings of biological matter, whether in molecules such as DNA, or cellular structures, or the transport of matter and energy in and across cells; and many others. Basic physics research has led to myriad technological advances, which have transformed society in the 20th century through the present day; a small list includes radio and television, computers, lasers, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and CAT scans, and the World Wide Web.

Physics is a hands-on discipline, and our students gain expertise not only in the classroom but also in the laboratory. They participate in activities ranging from the writing of realistic computer games to the modeling of financial activities, as well as the more traditional activities of physicists. Those trained in physics are found in many occupations, such as various fields of engineering, computer technology, health, environmental and earth sciences, communications, and science writing. A higher degree opens the possibility of creative research in industry, or teaching and research in colleges and universities. Outstanding and highly motivated students are offered special opportunities for honors work, independent study, summer laboratory research, internships, and other enhancements.

In addition to Foundations of Science 1–6 and six required courses in physics, the major requires four mathematics courses and one physics elective. Although not required, Complex Analysis and Partial Differential Equations are especially relevant to physics and students are encouraged to complete one or both. At least one additional physics elective is strongly recommended.

Study abroad for students majoring in physics occurs in the spring semester of the third year, during which the Program in Physics offers a special experience at an NYU global network site for students majoring in Physics. The option for students majoring in Physics to enroll in a second semester abroad is competitive, granted by permission of the Program in Physics and the Dean of Science, and requires registration in the course Capstone Project in Physics 1 at the student’s chosen site. Students majoring in Physics must successfully complete the Foundations of Science sequence before going abroad.


19 courses, distributed as follows:

  • 6 Foundations of Science 1–6
  • 5.5 Required courses:
    • Electromagnetism and Special Relativity (half course)
    • Mechanics
    • Electricity and Magnetism
    • Quantum Mechanics
    • Advanced Physics Laboratory
    • Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics
  • 4 Mathematics courses:
    • Calculus with Applications: Science and Engineering;
    • Multivariable Calculus: Science and Engineering;
    • Linear Algebra
    • Ordinary Differential Equations
  • 1 Physics Elective
  • .5 Research Seminar in Physics (half course)
  • 2 Capstone Project in Physics