BA in Physics & Computer Science

The joint Physics & Computer Science major at Boston University allows students to develop a fundamental knowledge of physics and computer science that they can apply in many fields. A curriculum that carefully combines courses in the two disciplines provides the students with an integrated view of the application of basic physics concepts to computer science and of computer science ideas to the study of physical phenomena. This integration is becoming ever more important as topics such as quantum computing and machine learning are the focus of major industrial developments. The student’s learning takes place in two departments that maintain a rigorous research program in their respective disciplines and will prepare them for a successful career. Physics & Computer Science majors should have advisors in both the Physics department and the Computer Science department.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the BA in Physics & Computer Science will have:

  • Knowledge of fundamental concepts in physics and computer science.
  • Knowledge of the application of advanced mathematical and computational methods to problems in physics and other fields.
  • Programming and software engineering skills.
  • Combined theoretical and technical skills to use on real-world applications.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Physics & Computer Science will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Quantitative Reasoning 1 and 2, Scientific Inquiry 1 and 2, two units of Critical Thinking, two units of Teamwork and Collaboration, and one unit of Digital Literacy. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Prerequisite Courses (11 Courses)

  • CAS CS 111 and 112 Intro to CS I and II
  • CAS CS 131 Combinatoric Structures
  • CAS CS 210 Computer Systems
  • CAS CS 235 Algebraic Algorithms or CAS CS 237 Probability in Computing
  • CAS MA 123 Calculus and CAS MA 124 Calculus II, or one (1) of the following:
    • CAS MA 127 Enriched Calculus, CAS MA 129 Honors Calculus, or equivalent
  • CAS MA 225 Multivariate Calculus, recommended but not required. (Although CAS PY 351 lists CAS MA 225 as corequisite and CAS PY 355 lists CAS MA 225 or consent of instructor among the prerequisites, the required courses, especially CAS PY 355, CAS PY 410, and CAS PY 421, will give the students the needed competence on multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and elementary differential equations.)
  • CAS PY 251 and CAS PY 252 Principles of Physics I and II
    • or CAS PY 211 and CAS PY 212 General Physics I and II
  • CAS PY 351 Modern Physics or CAS PY 313 Elementary Modern Physics
  • CAS PY 355 Methods of Theoretical Physics

Principal (Required) Courses (8 Courses)

  • CAS CS 330 Algorithms
  • CAS CS/PY 536 Quantum Computing
  • CAS PY 410 Statistical Thermodynamics
  • CAS PY 421 Introduction to Computational Physics
  • One other CS course at the 300 level
  • Two other CS classes at level 300 or above
  • One additional upper-level (PY 400/500s) course or CAS PY 371 Lab Electronics