Information For Prospective Undergraduates
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The Department of Physics at Cornell offers an education hard to find at any other university. From award-winning faculty to research and experimental facilities such as the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and Cornell Center for Nanoscale Systems, your education at Cornell will include classroom and laboratory experiences that are second to none.
How to Apply
Students interested in applying for admission to Cornell University can indicate their desire to major in physics on their application to the College of Arts and Sciences. Information on applying to Cornell can be found at the College of Arts and Sciences and the main Cornell Admissions site. Click the Cornell Days Physics 2019 schedule for classes you can sit in on, faculty office hours, and informational sessions conducted by our Society for Physics Students. Physics 1116 is not available to visit on April 26. In addition, you can find more information on the main Cornell Days website.
Current Cornell Students
Current students meeting the entrance requirements for the major [two physics courses (and the associated mathematics) with a grade of B- or better] can find the forms for joining the major at the Main Physics Office, 117 Clark Hall.
Students should then arrange to meet with the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Professor Kyle Shen [email@example.com, (607) 255-1952] to complete their application. Students can gain provisional acceptance into the major in the semester in which they expect to complete the requirements and thereby have the benefit of their major advisors help in course planning. Students are welcome to see Professor Shen early in their time at Cornell as well to discuss pre-major course selection.
Students who are not yet ready to join the major, but would like to find ways to become involved with Cornell Physics, are encouraged to join the Society of Physics Students.
The Physics Core – All physics majors must complete a core of physics and mathematics courses as follows:
Three-semester introductory physics sequence plus special relativity:
PHYS 2207 students with life/chemical/health science interests who decide to switch to the physics major may complete:
Mathematics courses covering single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, series representations, and complex analysis:
MATH 2220 – Multivariable Calculus or
MATH 2240 – Theoretical Linear Algebra and Calculus
Five upper-level courses beyond the three-semester introductory sequence, consisting of:
(2) At least three semester hours of laboratory work selected from:
PHYS 3310 – Intermediate Experimental Physics
PHYS 3330 – Modern Experimental Optics (crosslisted)
PHYS 3360 – Electronic Circuits (crosslisted)
PHYS 4410 – Advanced Experimental Physics
AEP 2640 – Computer-Instrumentation Design (crosslisted)
ASTRO 4410 – Experimental Astronomy
BEE 4500 – Bioinstrumentation
(3) An intermediate course in classical mechanics:
PHYS 3318 – Analytical Mechanics
Physics 3314 and 3318 have been merged so all physics majors should take Physics 3318.
(4) An intermediate course in electromagnetism:
PHYS 3323 – Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism or
PHYS 3327 – Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
In addition to the core, each physics major must complete at least 15 semester hours of credit in an area of concentration that has been agreed upon by the student and major faculty advisor consistent with the guidelines found here.
To learn more about the Physics Department and major, read the Freshman Brochure.
Students and families wishing to visit the Physics Department in order to discuss the majors program with a faculty member can make arrangements by contacting Sue Sullivan at (607) 255-7562 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out the visit request form here.
When you make your appointment, be sure to ask about our ambassador program where we have current undergraduate students meet with you (and maybe even show you the lab they work in).