Requirements for the BS in Applied Physics

The physics department is proud to announce a new major in Applied Physics, designed for students interested in real-world problem-solving.  This is an ideal major for students aiming for careers in engineering, data science, public policy, medicine, or other sectors where a broad physics knowledge is integrated into complex, multi-disciplinary problem solving.

Applied Physics is a great way to combine a broad interest in physics with practical career skills, networking opportunities and experience with team projects.  It is an excellent launch pad for careers in the private sector or for advanced study in applications such as engineering and medicine.

How to Declare a Major in Applied Physics

Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics, including transfer students, please schedule an appointment with the Physics advisor or email the advisor at


Students should meet with their faculty advisor to discuss their plan for completing the Applied Physics major - this includes determining the four technical electives they will complete. Please work with the undergraduate advisor, David Smith, to determine your faculty advisor. It is suggested that students do research in advance and speak with their advisors about potential options.


Applied Physics
Program Guide

General Education Requirements (starting Spring 2022)

All students at the University of Arizona are required to complete a minimum of 120 total units and 42 upper-division units (300/400-level courses) as well as the following General Education courses:

  • UNIV 101 – Introduction to General Education (to be taken in the first year)
  • First-Year English Composition
  • Second Language (Second Semester Proficiency)
  • Exploring Perspectives: Artist (1 course)
  • Exploring Perspectives: Humanist (1 course)
  • Exploring Perspectives: Natural Scientist (Intro Mechanics will satisfy this requirement)
  • Exploring Perspectives: Social Scientist (1 course)
  • Building Connections (3 courses)
  • UNIV 301 – General Education Portfolio

Math Requirements

  • MATH 122B or MATH 125 – Calculus I
  • MATH 129 – Calculus II
  • MATH 223 – Vector Calculus
  • MATH 254 or 355 – Introduction to Differential Equations

Supporting Requirements

Applied Physics students are required to complete at least one Programming course, the recommended course is:

  • ECE 175 – Computer Programming for Engineering Applications (requires Calculus I)

Introductory Physics Requirements

Applied Physics majors are highly encouraged to take the "accelerated" sequence of Physics Introductory courses:

  • PHYS 161H – Introductory Mechanics
  • PHYS 162H – Introductory Optics & Thermodynamics
  • PHYS 261H – Introductory Electricity & Magnetism
  • PHYS 263H – Introductory Relativity & Quantum Physics

Physics Core Requirements

  • PHYS 204 – Mathematical Techniques in Physics
  • PHYS 305 – Computational Physics
  • PHYS 321 – Theoretical Mechanics
  • PHYS 331 – Electricity & Magnetism I
  • PHYS 371 – Quantum Theory I
  • PHYS 381 – Methods of Experimental Physics I
  • PHYS 382 – Methods of Experimental Physics II

Technical Elective Requirement

Applied Physics students will choose four (4) technical electives courses totaling a minimum of twelve (12) total units. A maximum of six (6) units can be lower-division, and three (3) units can come from physics. Students will meet with their faculty advisor in their sophomore year while they are taking PHYS 263H and will be required to complete a graduation plan including the selection of their technical electives. Technical elective courses can be chosen from science, engineering, math, and programming coursework and should match the student’s academic and professional goals.

Data/Stats/Modeling Requirement

Applied Physics students will need to choose one from the following (more options may be available):

  • ISTA 311 – Foundation of Information and Inference
  • ISTA 350 – Programming for Informatics Applications
  • ISTA 421 – Introduction to Machine Learning
  • MATH 263 – Introduction to Statistics and Biostatistics

Communications Requirement

Applied Physics students will need to choose one from the following (more options may be available):

  • COMM/PR 119 – Public Speaking
  • ENGL 308 – Technical Writing
  • ENGL 340 – Topics in Professional and Technical Writing
  • JOUR 455 – Environmental Journalism
  • JOUR 472 – Science Journalism

Applied Physics Application Requirements

Applied Physics students are required to participate in a hands-on experience – the majority of Applied Physics students will participate in the College of Engineering Senior Design Project for six (6) total units over fall and spring of their senior year. Students will sign up for ENGR 498A in the fall and ENGR 498B in the spring. Alternatively, an equivalent of six (6) units of interdisciplinary design or internship experience can be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Applied Physics students will be required to complete the following courses to be eligible for the Senior Design course: PHYS 381 (Methods of Experimental Physics I) & PHYS 305 (Computational Physics). Students are encouraged to also complete PHYS 382 (Methods of Experimental Physics II) and have a strong programming background, particularly ECE 175.

Double-Dipping - Applied Physics (BS) majors cannot double-dip courses for their four (4) technical electives in double majors or double degrees with MATH or ASTR.  Students may double-dip one 3-unit pre-approved technical elective in MATH or ASTR, but they cannot double-dip courses that fulfill other major or minor requirements in those degree programs.