Sample Curricula

The following are examples of sets of courses that could satisfy element (3) of the interdisciplinary option. Note that there are multiple routes that can satisfy each of the options listed below (and there are additional interdisciplinary options that can be designed to support a student’s interests and plans); the specific course listings are meant to be representative, not prescriptive. It is expected that at least one of the four topical courses uses the methods and techniques of physics as a central part of its syllabus. Students should pay close attention to the prerequisites associated with advanced-level courses outside the Physics Department when planning a course of study. Course descriptions for courses identified as “MIT” or “Olin” can be found in the respective websites for those schools.


Biophysics applies the principles and methods of physics to biological systems, with the ultimate goal of understanding at a fundamental level the structure, dynamics, interactions, and ultimately the function of biological systems.

sample coursework:

  • BISC 110 Introductory Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • BISC 220 Cell Biology
  • PHYS 222 Medical Physics
  • MIT 8.241 Introduction to Biological Physics


Geophysics applies the principles and methods of physics to understand the structure and dynamics of the Earth, its atmosphere, and its near-space environment.

sample coursework:

  • MIT 12.002 Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science
  • GEOS 210 Hydrogeology: Water and Pollutants
  • ASTR 303 Advanced Planetary Geology
  • MIT 12.214 Essentials of Applied Geophysics

Applied Physics

Applied physics focuses on the technological and practical uses of physics, and, as such, often connects physics with engineering disciplines. This option takes particular advantage of the opportunities to cross-register for courses at Olin and MIT.

sample coursework:

  • Olin SCI 1111 Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World
  • MIT 6.071 Electronics, Signals, and Measurement
  • Olin SCI 3120 Solid State Physics
  • MIT 8.292 Fluid Physics

Computational Physics

Computational physics uses numerical methods to model complex physical systems. Computational work plays a central role in all areas of physics, complementing and supplementing experimental and theoretical approaches.

sample coursework:

  • CS 111 Computer Programming and Problem Solving
  • PHYS 220 Introduction to Computational Physics
  • Olin SCI 1111 Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World
  • MIT 6.050 Information, Entropy, and Computation

Environmental Physics

Environmental physics applies the principles and techniques of physics to problems in the natural and man-made environment.

sample coursework:

  • ES 101 Fundamentals of Environmental Science
  • MIT 8.21 Physics of Energy
  • ES 210 Hydrogeology: Water and Pollutants
  • MIT 12.340 Global Warming Science

Mathematical Physics

Mathematics underlies the formulation of physical laws and is centrally important to physics; mathematical physics develops the tools that compose much of theoretical physics.

sample coursework:

  • MATH 206 Linear Algebra
  • MATH 214 Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry
  • MATH 305 Abstract Algebra
  • MATH 310 Complex Analysis