Undergraduate Programs in Physics

The UAlbany Physics Department gives high priority to undergraduate education, which results in the fact that the department graduates a large number of physics seniors per year (24 UAlbany Physics Bachelors Degrees in 2009 as compared to the National average of 8.4 Physics Bachelors Degrees per university). The fact that we have a large number of seniors enables us to offer a wide variety of unique undergraduate courses such as General Relativity, Information Physics, Foundations of Physics, and Bayesian Data Analysis. Our faculty is active in research, and a variety of research opportunities exist for motivated undergraduate students. In addition to the honors program, several of our talented and motivated undergraduates have been awarded summer research fellowships at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).

The objective of the department is to provide students a solid foundation in both classical and modern physics. Students are prepared either to undertake graduate study in physics, to apply physics principles and techniques successfully for advanced work in other disciplines, to enter industry usefully, or to teach in the secondary schools. Along with courses in classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, atomic and nuclear physics, and thermal physics, students learn modern experimental techniques, principles of quantum mechanics, and applications. Elective courses in other sciences and independent study and research with faculty members in the active research fields of the department are encouraged. Courses in environmental problems, astronomy and space physics, applications of nuclear physics, physics in the arts, and physical science for humanists bring physics concepts to the nonmajor.


Graduates holding the bachelor's degree in physics find employment as laboratory or theoretical research assistants in physics or engineering, high-level medical technicians, science writers and editors, computer programmers, and secondary school teachers. A bachelor's degree in physics can be an ideal background for advanced study in other sciences, engineering, and the business and medical professions. A graduate degree in physics opens a broad spectrum of opportunities in pure and applied research in academia and industry.

Special Programs or Opportunities

One-to-one student-faculty interaction is possible and is encouraged by the department. Computer use at all levels of instruction is afforded by means of terminals in the Joseph Henry Physics Building. Modern equipment is available in all laboratories. Opportunities for valuable experience, training, and financial support exist in the form of undergraduate assistantships in the research and teaching laboratories.

For students interested in engineering, there are available 3-2 programs with engineering colleges including Clarkson University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Students in these programs spend their first three years at this campus and the last two at the other. The tuition is at the University at Albany rate for the first three years only. Transfer into the other institution is not guaranteed and requires a minimum 3.2 grade point average. Upon successful completion of the programs, students are awarded a B.S. in Physics from the University at Albany and a B.S. in Engineering from the other institution.