The Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics includes undergraduate and graduate studies in the fields of applied physics, applied mathematics, and materials science. The graduate program in applied physics includes plasma physics and controlled fusion; solid-state physics; optical and laser physics; and medical physics. The graduate program in applied mathematics includes research in applied analysis and atmospheric, oceanic, and earth physics. The graduate programs in materials science and engineering focus on understanding and developing new and better materials for the use in innovative engineering applications.


The Department provides a home for undergraduate students seeking study of basic physics and mathematics and real exposure to the state-of-the-art and to the applications derived from such study. Each program provides a solid foundation in the fundamentals of physics, mathematics, or materials science while providing curriculum flexibility by way of a spectrum of technical electives to pursue individual interests. Faculty members are able to provide individual guidance and mentoring due to the relatively small student-to-faculty ratio. Important elements of both the applied physics and applied mathematics programs are junior-senior research seminars and opportunities to pursue undergraduate research by working with a faculty mentor.

Important advancements in science and technology will be at the interface between pure science and mathematics and the traditional engineering disciplines. The Department's undergraduate programs prepare students to contribute to this advancement by following several routes. About half of our undergraduates enter graduate programs in engineering, applied science, physics, and mathematics. Others find technical, consulting, industrial, or computer-oriented employment immediately after receiving their bachelor of science degree. A smaller, but significant, fraction pursues medicine, law, or teaching.

Interdisciplinary Activities

As a department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, we offer a PhD degree in applied physics with specializations in applied mathematics, materials science and engineering, medical physics, plasma physics, and solid-state and optical physics. We contribute leadership to the interdepartmental committees of Applied Mathematics, Materials Science and Engineering and Solid State Science and Engineering, and Atmospheric and Planetary Science.

Our research activities generally span departmental boundaries at Columbia University. The Department acts as a focal point for interdisciplinary activities and the sharing of related ideas in science and mathematics through our ties with other departments including:

And other research centers and laboratories including:

Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University

Letter from the Chair