Area of Focus
  • Science & Math
Degrees Offered
  • B.S.
  • M.S.
  • Ph.D.
Academic Division
  • Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Physics

Program overview

Physics seeks to discover the fundamental regularities or “laws” that govern our universe and to apply these laws to explain the behavior of fundamental and complex systems. The department offers majors in physics, physics (astrophysics), and applied physics. The applied physics major is good preparation not only for industrial careers but also for graduate studies.

For more information about the physics program requirements, please see the program description in the General Catalog.

Applied Physics programs

Learning Experience

Study and Research Opportunities

  • The Physics Department offers a B.S., M.S., Ph.D., an undergraduate minor, and a combined B.S./M.S. degree.
  • The applied physics major offers a new concentration in computational physics.
  • The number of research opportunities for physics undergraduates is exceptionally high, and applied physics students work with faculty in Engineering and Chemistry as well as Physics.
  • The option of a senior thesis enables students to interact professionally in even more depth with faculty in a research environment.
  • The Cal Teach program at UCSC supports student outreach, advises students, and arranges teaching internships for Science Education.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

High school students coming directly to UCSC should emphasize their math preparation with the expectation that they will take calculus in their first quarter at UCSC in order to meet the prerequisite for the Physics 5 series, calculus-based physics for physics majors.

Student with whiteboard in background

Transfer Requirements

This is a screening major. Students transferring to UCSC as junior physics, astrophysics, or applied physics majors should have completed the equivalent of three quarters of introductory calculus-based physics with laboratory and the equivalent of three quarters of calculus. It is also desirable to have an introductory course in modern physics as well as mathematics courses in linear algebra, vector calculus, and differential equations. The Physics Department advises each junior transfer student individually upon their arrival.

Applied Physics

Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Applied physics research
  • Business and industry
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Medical physics
  • Professional schools
  • Patent law
  • Physics research
  • These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.

Program Contact



apartment Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, Room 211
phone (831) 459-3744