Disciplines are the individual variations of Magicians' magical aptitude, or their affinity for a specific strain of magic.
Disciplines are personal to every Magician and are determined by the Circumstances surrounding their birth; where they were born, where the Moon was located at the time, the state of the weather, their personality, and about two hundred or more other technical factors. A Magician's Discipline could be determined by studying these factors, theoretically, but they are usually tested for since the process for calculating them from that data is tedious. Most Magicians are ambivalent about Disciplines, believing the theory behind them to be weak and seeing them as socially divisive.
Disciplines usually manifest fully in a Magician's twenties, but there have been cases where they develop much later in life.For some, such as Quentin Coldwater, their disciplines may not manifest if they are not mature enough, as personality is a factor that determines when disciplines manifest. At Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, students receive their Disciplines at the start of their Third Year during a series of tests performed by the faculty shortly after completing their Second Year finals. Students within the same Discipline groupings are given housing facilities to live in on campus, such as the Physical Kids' Cottage or the Tree House Dorm.
- Notable Members: See Physical Kids
- Known Disciplines: Repair of Small Objects, Phosphoromancy, Cold Magic
- Description: Accredited as the rarest of Disciplines, Physical Magic is centered around the ability to manipulate the nature and properties of matter and energy and is seen as messy and crude. Magicians with Physical Magic disciplines are known as Physical Kids at Brakebills and are housed at the Physical Kids' Cottage on the college campus.
- Notable Members: Penny Adiyodi, Hyman Cooper, Plum Chatwin, Joe, Camille, Sheila Cozener
- Known Disciplines: Traveling, Astral Projection, Quaeromancy
- Description: Magicians with Disciplines in Psychic Magic are aptly referred to as Psychics and possess telepathic, empathic, and prophetic abilities. At Brakebills University, Psychics operate out of the Consciousness Building, where they use a Psychic Amplifier to heighten their telepathic abilities.
- Notable Members: Darcy, Harriet Schiff, Plum Purchas
- Known Disciplines: Camouflage, Mirror Magic
- Description: Disciplines in Illusions allow Illusionists to create, shape and manipulate illusions, causing targets to see, hear, touch, smell and/or taste things which do not actually exist or cause them to perceive things differently from what they truly are. They are capable of cloaking, invisibility, and projections that make the CIA look like amateurs, and are widely known as great liars. Illusionists are housed in the Illusionist Castle at Brakebills, which can be made invisible and levitate off the ground.
- Notable Members: Lipson, Faye, Georgia, Sophie Carlson
- Description: Magicians with disciplines in Healing are referred to as Healers, a title akin to "doctor", and are credited with creating some of medicine’s greatest advancements such as the cures for polio and smallpox vaccines, erectile dysfunction medication, and the invention of xray technology. They primarily reside in the Brakebills Infirmary.
- Notable Members: Henry Fogg, Julia Wicker, Sonia Kikuno, Daniella Marcus
- Known Disciplines: Meta-Composition, Circumstantial Prognostication, Horomancy
- Description: The Knowledge disciplines are a combination of Physical and Psychic disciplines, and involve exploring magical theory. Knowledge students are drawn, mind and body, to the discovery of magic, primarily dealing with the deepening and discovery of magical knowledge as a whole. At Brakebills, they're housed in the attic of the school's library.
- Notable Members: Josh Hoberman, Hamish Bax
- Known Disciplines: Herbology, Botany
- Description: The strains of Natural Magic disciplines focus on the manipulation and development of the environment through the use of magic. Naturalists are very grounded and poised to harness the Earth’s innate power, making them capable of cultivating plants with magical properties. At Brakebills, Naturalists are housed in the Tree House Dorm in the forest surrounding the school.