Physical Sciences

Undergraduate Education in the Physical Sciences has extraordinary resources for study and research, with ample opportunity for collaboration between disciplines. Students typically begin their study either with interdisciplinary courses in the Physical Sciences sequence or with foundational courses in one of the relevant departments.  As you continue in the Physical Sciences, courses become concentration focused. 

Physical Sciences Concentrations Descriptions

Astrophysics

The Astrophysics concentration and new Secondary Field in Astrophysics offer small class sizes, the highest faculty-­to­-student ratio of the physical science departments, and the opportunity to travel to remote astronomical observatories. Students often pursue a joint concentration with either Physics or Earth & Planetary Sciences.

The Harvard­-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, located at 60 Garden Street opposite the Radcliffe Quadrangle, is one of the world's great centers for research in astrophysics, with over 350 scientists and powerful astronomical observatories in Arizona, Chile, Hawaii, and in space. Undergraduate students interested in participating in either term-­time or summer research are encouraged to contact Prof. Edo Berger to discuss the numerous opportunities, which range from the hunt for planets orbiting nearby stars to the quest to understand the Big Bang and the accelerating Universe.

Chemistry

Chemistry is both a basic science, fundamental to an understanding of the world we live in, and a practical science with an enormous number and variety of important applications.  Knowledge of chemistry is fundamental to an understanding of biology and biochemistry and of certain aspects of geology, astronomy, physics, and engineering.

Chemistry and Physics

The Harvard Physics Department has a large and very active undergraduate program, graduating 50-60 majors (concentrators) a year (including those in the Chemistry and Physics concentration, also administered by the department). The hallmark of the undergraduate program is flexibility, as 40-50 percent of Harvard physics graduates go to graduate school in physics or a closely related field; the rest pursue a wide range of careers including medical school, law school or business school as well as immediate employment. 25 percent of concentrators are women; 5 percent black, 20 percent Asian, and 6 percent Latino.

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Harvard offers outstanding opportunities for students who wish to pursue studies in Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS). Students may focus on geological science, environmental geoscience, solid earth geophysics, geochemistry, geobiology, atmospheric and ocean science, and planetary science.

Environmental Science and Public Policy

The concentration in Environmental Science and Public Policy (ESPP) is designed to provide a multi-disciplinary introduction to current problems of the environment. It is founded on the premise that the ability to form rational judgments concerning many of the complex challenges confronting society today involving the environment requires both an understanding of the underlying scientific and technical issues and an appreciation for the relevant economic, political, legal, historical and ethical dimensions.

Mathematics

Most information for Mathematics undergraduates is here. Math events like math table talks and other events are listed here. Information on the Putnam exam is on this page. For undergraduate research opportunities look here. For questions about concentration in Mathematics, contact the undergraduate student coordinator Cindy Jimenez. The director for Undergraduate studies is Cliff Taubes.

Physics

The concentration in Physics, administered by the Department of Physics, serves a variety of goals and interests. Many concentrators seek an understanding of the subtle, profound, and fundamental laws—relativity, quantum mechanics, and the basic force laws—that govern the behavior of all matter. Often these studies involve the smallest units of matter: molecules, atoms, nuclei, and sub-nuclear particles. A major interest of other Physics concentrators is the exploration and explanation of the diverse properties to which these laws give rise in macroscopic systems such as fluids and solids. Still others study aspects of more complex systems like oceans and atmospheres, stars, and living matter.

Statistics

Students concentrating in Statistics acquire the conceptual, computational, and mathematical tools for quantifying uncertainty and making sense of complex data arising from many applications.