Majors, Minors and Concentrations

The study of physics provides a foundation in fundamental science and develops skills that are highly valued in virtually every profession. Physics emphasizes logical, analytical thinking applied to understanding basic natural phenomena and solving practical problems. It requires strong mathematical skills and the ability to reason quantitatively and qualitatively. The Department of Physics offers degree programs that students may tailor to their individual needs and interests.

The bachelor of science degree prepares students for admission to graduate school in physics or closely related fields, including astronomy, biophysics, medical physics, materials science and engineering. Research opportunities for undergraduates are available both within the department and through summer programs that are run at laboratories, colleges and universities throughout the United States.

For students who do not intend to become research physicists, the bachelor of arts degree provides an attractive alternative. It does not require as many advanced courses and can be combined with other interests. The B.A. confers a competitive edge in professions such as business, finance, law and medicine. The department also offers a bachelor of arts degree in adolescence education for physics teachers as well as a minor in physics.

Careers

A major in physics can lead to a wide range of careers, including basic research in national laboratories and colleges, industrial research and development, teaching (K–12 and college / university), engineering, law, medicine, finance, management and business. Read more about physics careers from the American Physical Society.

Advisement

Each physics major is given direct one-on-one advisement from multiple faculty members. This advice comes in various forms: planning of classes, schedules, and path to graduation; planning for and arranging research and internships; preparation for standardized exams (GRE, MCAT); assistance in application to graduate and professional programs; and career counseling.

Prospective physics majors should consult Associate Professor Ken Miyano, 3438 Ingersoll Hall, 718.951.5418.

Getting Started

Potential physics majors should, if possible, get started by taking physics during their first year. Here are some possible starting tracks.

Students Who Do Not Yet Have Precalculus

  • Fall: MATH 1011 — Precalculus Mathematics
  • Spring: PHYS 1100 — General Physics I (algebra-based)

Students Who Already Have Precalculus

  • Fall: PHYS 1100 — General Physics I (algebra-based)
  • Spring: PHYS 2100 — General Physics II (algebra-based)

    or
  • Fall: MATH 1201 — Calculus I
  • Spring: PHYS 1150 — General Physics I (calculus-based)