Applied Physics

Contemporary science and engineering are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Traditional boundaries between fields have blurred, and new areas such as nanotechnology and artificially structured materials are constantly emerging. Applied physics combines study of the laws of nature at a fundamental level with a focus on technological applications to provide solutions for important societal problems. As a result, it provides an essential link between physics and engineering. The range of phenomena, materials, devices, and systems benefiting from research in applied physics is unmatched in scope and importance.

The Applied Physics major offers a unique combination of depth and flexibility, allowing students to maximize their professional development while pursuing their particular interests. Majors take courses in physics, engineering, and applied physics and are prepared for graduate study in physics, applied physics, engineering, nanoscience and, with appropriate prerequisites, medicine or law.

Prospective majors should start by taking courses in mathematics and physics appropriate to their level of preparation. Because computers are so fundamental to the practical applications of physics, students are also strongly encouraged to take a course on the use of computers early in their career. In addition to the prerequisites, all majors take three upper-level core courses in topics that are foundational for modern science and engineering:

  • APHY 322, Electromagnetic Waves and Devices
  • APHY 439, Basic Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS 420, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

The remaining requirements of the major allow students to focus their course work and research on an individual area of scientific interest, provided it contains a significant physics component. Majors choose three electives in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies and conduct two terms of independent research supervised by a faculty adviser from Applied Physics, Physics, one of the engineering departments, the medical school, or related departments. The electives should relate to the research topic so that courses and research are intellectually coherent.

For more information, please contact the director of undergraduate studies, Professor Daniel Prober, who welcomes consultation with students about their programs at any time. Additional details about the program are available on the departmental website. For an overview of Applied Physics at Yale, watch the department’s YouTube video.