Physics (BS)

Program Description

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. Basic physics research has led to myriad technological advances. A small list of these advances 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 students gain expertise not only in the classroom but also in the laboratory. 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. 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. 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 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 Away

The study away pathway for the Physics major can be found on the NYUAD Student Portal at Students with questions should contact the Office of Global Education.

The program recommends that not more than one physics elective be taken while studying away.


The program offers the following specializations:


For Physics majors only.

The Physics major offers a specialization in Astrophysics. Astrophysics employs the principles of physics and chemistry to explain the nature of 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.

Emission 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 Imaging and Spectroscopy Lab and PHYS-UH 3221 Radio Imaging and Time Series Lab are half courses and both would be needed to satisfy one of the requirements for the specialization (or the major).


For Natural Science majors.

The 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.


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