Undergraduate Program in Physics


What levels of physics does the department offer?

For entering students who intend to study physics, but are not yet prepared for it, we offer  Physics 10000 (Ideas of Physics).

We have two introductory physics sequences: Physics 20300, 20400, for majors in the life sciences (biology, medicine, dentistry, psychology, physical therapy) and for liberal arts students, and Physics 20700, 20800 for all students in the Physical Sciences, Engineering and Computer Science. Engineers also take Physics 32100.  Architecture majors take Physics 21900. 

Beyond introductory physics we offer a range of courses for advanced students in mathematics, science, and engineering. You can explore medical physics, quantum mechanics, optics and photonics, thermodynamics, biophysics and astronomy. Advanced laboratories and even graduate courses are available to junior and senior level majors.

I am beginning at CCNY. How do I know which physics course to take?

A college advisor will assist you in selecting an appropriate course depending on your goals. If you are a transfer student, the College will evaluate your transcript to determine the correct placement based on the course work you have completed elsewhere.

Can I get credit for Advanced Placement work?

If you have taken the College Board Advanced Placement test in physics and scored sufficiently high, you will receive credit for your work and your physics placement will be determined by your advanced standing. 

Can I take physics courses at other colleges on permit?

If you are currently a full-time student at City College then you are expected to complete your basic physics courses at The College. This policy applies to all physics courses at the level of senior and below. Permits to take upper level courses at other institutions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applications for permits may be made online through the CUNY Portal.

Can I get tutoring?

The Math Help Desk located in MR418S provides free tutoring for students in all courses in introductory physics. The Physics Department provides free tutoring in MR417, offered by physics graduate students and faculty. The Division of Science provides additional support for prospective science majors through the CCAPP program. Prospective engineering students should consult the PRES office in T2M-7.


Is a physics major right for me?

 Are you curious, unconventional and ambitious? Do you accept nothing unchallenged and like to ask the whys and hows for everything? Are you intrigued about faraway galaxies and quantum particles? If yes, then you have what it takes to become a physics major at the City College of New York.

What can I do with a physics degree after college?

There are lots of things you can do: Start a career in industry or finance, pursue an MA or a Masters in Physics, teach physics in the secondary schools, or go for a PhD in physics. In short, majoring in physics provides a training in rigorous thinking and problem analysis that finds broad application in many career paths. Check the careers page on this site for more information on the wide spectrum of opportunities awaiting today's physics major.

What background do I need to major in physics?

To declare the major, students must complete the introductory sequence, Physics 20700 and 20800. 

What does a physics major take after introductory physics?

We offer five options for Majoring in Physics. What you take after Physics 20800 depends to some extent on which of these options you pursue. 

 These are described in detail in the  major description.

Although there is overlapping in the requirements for these options, it is best for a student to consult with the Deputy Chair or major's adviser in planning a course of study and completing the documentation needed to register as a major.

I'm interested in majoring in physics. Which option should I choose?

If you have a specific interest in public secondary education - and the demand for high school physics teachers is insatiable - you should pursue the option in Secondary School Education. In order to obtain certification in New York State you will need to complete some courses in education.

If you are thinking about pursuing an advanced degree in physics or simply wish to engage in a rigorous course of study that will prepare you for challenging professional opportunities, you should consider the Standard Physics option.

The Optics, Materials Science and Biophysics programs aim to give students the tools that are most needed in entry-level careers in industry and research communities. .

What opportunities does the Department provide for majors?

The Department has awards, both monetary and academic, that it gives in recognition of student achievements.

Majors are also encouraged to apply directly to other institutions that sponsor residential summer research programs funded by the National Science Foundation. The Assistant Chair will assist students in selecting a suitable program.

Physics majors who wish to work on campus in a job that will also enhance their academic skills are encouraged to apply as research assistants to experimentalists within the department. Applicants should have completed the introductory physics sequence with a 3.0 average, and at least one of the following courses (Physics 32300, Physics 37100, or Physics 47100) with a grade of B or higher.

Can I take graduate physics courses as an undergraduate?

Undergraduates who have the appropriate prerequisites may register for U-level graduate courses. These will be credited towards their undergraduate degree. Please check the schedule of graduate courses for the proposed offerings. Undergraduates wishing to take a graduate level course need approval from the Deputy Chair or their physics major advisor.

Are there opportunities for undergraduates to do research?

The Department awards a degree with research honors for students who complete the appropriate course of study. Professor Alexios Polychronakos is the department Honors coordinator and students interested in the honors program should consult with him by the beginning of their junior year.

Can I minor in physics?

Yes, students can obtain a Minor in Physics if they complete the following requirements. The introductory physics sequence (Physics 20700, 20800 or 20300 and 20400) plus a total of nine (9) credits in physics* at the City College in 30000-level courses or higher. Upon completion of the requirements, students must file a Minor declaration form via the Department's Major Advisor. 

* Either PHYS 32300 or 32100 can be counted towards the 9, but not both.