Program Structure

Physics is a hands-on discipline. NYU Abu Dhabi 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.

Foundations of Science

Majors in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are required to take Foundations of Science. Students intending to major in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics normally start Foundations of Science in either the first or second semester of the first year. Students who begin the Foundations of Science series in their second year with the intention to major in the sciences have several options for completing their degree. They may take additional courses over the summer at sites within NYU’s global network; they may take more than four courses per semester; or they may need an additional fifth year of study at NYU Abu Dhabi. These options must be considered carefully by the student and the faculty mentors. 

Foundations of Science is an innovative program that responds to the nature of modern science. Instead of the traditional series of discipline-specific introductory courses, Foundations integrates basic concepts from biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics in a demanding three-semester sequence. The program fosters discussion among students and creates a collaborative learning dynamic. Problem-solving and group work in laboratory sessions are stressed, while close contact among students and faculty is a major feature of the program. The interdisciplinary approach and experimental work foster a more comprehensive understanding of science.

Foundations of Science is geared to meet the current demand for scientists with well-integrated backgrounds who become the leaders in modern scientific scholarship and who pursue careers in research, education, industry, health care, law, business, and publishing.

Specialization in Astrophysics

For Physics Major Only
The Physics major offers a specialization in Astrophysics. Astrophysics employs the principles of physics and chemistry to explain the nature of the astronomical objects. The objects studied cover the entire spectrum of celestial bodies, including the Sun and its planets, extrasolar planets, stars, galaxies, the interstellar and intergalactic medium and the cosmos as a whole.

Emissions from these objects are examined across all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the properties examined include luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition. Because astrophysics is a very broad subject, astrophysicists apply concepts and methods from many disciplines of physics, including mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, and atomic and molecular physics.

Physics majors who elect to complete the Astrophysics specialization must complete all courses required for the Physics majors and four astrophysics electives selected from the list below. One of these courses can be used to satisfy the elective requirement for the Physics major. The other three would be in addition to the minimum elective requirements for the major. At least one of the astrophysics electives must be a lab requirement. Additionally, note that PHYS-UH 3220 and 3221 are half courses and both would be needed to satisfy one of the requirements for the specialization (or the major).

Specialization in Biophysics

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics majors offer a specialization in Biophysics which emphasizes the crosstalk between these three disciplines in understanding biological function.

Everything obeys the laws of physics, and biological systems are no exception. The complexity of biological systems, however, is compounded by the fact that they span a broad range of interacting spatial scales from a few atoms to global ecosystems, and that life inherently functions far from the equilibrium. This complexity poses problems for physicists, chemists, and biologists that are at once interesting and challenging. Biophysics addresses these problems through an interdisciplinary approach that builds on strengths in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Physics majors who elect to complete the Biophysics specialization must complete all courses required for the Physics majors, three required Biophysics courses, and one elective selected from the list below. No more than two of these courses can be used to satisfy the elective requirement for the Chemistry major. The other two would be in addition to the minimum elective requirements for the major.

Study Abroad

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.