Information For Prospective Undergraduates


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

Prospective First-Year Students

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

Please email Professor Tomás Arias, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, at with any questions about the Physics Major at Cornell. 

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 apply to the major by filling out the Physics Major application.

Students should then arrange to meet with the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Professor Tomás Arias during office hours, or by emailing

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.

Course Requirements

Course Requirements at a Glance

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 1112 – Physics I: Mechanics
PHYS 1110 – Intro. to Experimental Physics
PHYS 2213 – Physics II: Heat/Electromagnetism
PHYS 2214 – Physics III: Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics
PHYS 2216 – Introduction to Special Relativity

Or its more analytic “augmented” version:
PHYS 1116 – Physics I: Mechanics and Special Relativity
PHYS 1110 – Intro. to Experimental Physics

PHYS 2217 – Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
PHYS 2218 – Physics III: Waves and Thermal Physics
PHYS 2210 – Exploring Experimental Physics 

PHYS 2207 students with life/chemical/health science interests who decide to switch to the physics major may complete:

PHYS 2207 – Fundamentals of Physics I
PHYS 2213 – Physics II: Heat/Electromagnetism
PHYS 2214 – Physics III: Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics
PHYS 2216 – Introduction to Special Relativity

*NOTE: A transition from PHYS 2208 to PHYS 2214 is also possible for students with very strong math backgrounds.

*NOTE:  Inside concentrators are required to take AEP 3200 and AEP 4200 (or equivalent mathematical coursework).

Five upper-level courses beyond the three-semester introductory sequence, consisting of:

(3) An intermediate course in classical mechanics:
PHYS 3318 – Analytical Mechanics

(4) An intermediate course in electromagnetism:
PHYS 3327 – Advanced Electricity and Magnetism

*NOTE: Students who complete the PHYS 1112PHYS 1110PHYS 2213PHYS 2214 or PHYS 2207PHYS 2213PHYS 2214 introductory sequence are advised to complete the 1-credit course PHYS 2216 before taking PHYS 3316.

Additional Requirements:

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.

First-Year Brochure

To learn more about the Physics Department and major, read the First-Year Brochure.  (Updates to the major requirements have been made since the First-Year Brochure was printed.  Please refer to the updated Major Requirements sheet here). 


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