graduate programs

The Graduate Student Open House

Our Open House for prospective graduate students is February 28 - March 1, 2019.

Graduate Programs

The Department of Physics offers the opportunity for students to pursue a Ph.D. in many areas of experimental and theoretical physics. Entering students typically have undergraduate degrees in physics or related fields, and are drawn from among the most qualified applicants around the world. The department does not offer a terminal master's program; however, a student can specialize in physics in the master's program offered by the Physical Sciences Division. Information for applying to our Ph.D. program can be found here: Apply to Our Ph.D. Program

The department also participates in a small bridge to Ph.D. effort. Information regarding that program can be found at this link.

The Ph.D. Program

During the first year of the doctoral program, a student typically takes introductory graduate courses and usually serves as a teaching assistant. The student is encouraged to explore research opportunities. After admission to candidacy and identification of a research sponsor, the student begins dissertation research while completing course requirements.

Interdisciplinary research leading to a Ph.D. degree in physics may be carried out under the guidance of faculty committees including researchers from other departments such as Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geophysical Sciences, Mathematics, and Statistics. Opportunities also exist for student to perform dissertation research in laboratories in Biological Sciences Division, at Argonne National Laboratory, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or the Institute for Molecular Engineering.

In addition to fulfilling University and Divisional requirements, a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in physics must:

  • Achieve doctoral candidacy by displaying graduate-level proficiency in core areas and techniques of physics. This proficiency can be demonstrated by satisfactory performance on the graduate diagnostic exam (GDE), by satisfactory performance in core graduate courses, or by a combination of the two.
  • Fulfill the experimental physics requirement by completing Advanced Experimental Physics (PHYS 33400) or a Special Experimental Project (PHYS 33500).
  • Pass four post-candidacy graduate courses. At least one course must be selected from each of the broad physics areas of (A) Condensed Matter Physics: PHYS 361, 366, 367, (B) Particle Physics: PHYS 363, 443 or 444, and (C) Large-Scale Physics: PHYS 364, 371, 372. One of the four courses may be selected from the options of (D) Intermediate Electives: PHYS 317, 353, 385, 386.
  • Pass two other advanced (40000-level) courses in physics or (with approval) in a closely-related department.
  • Successfully defend his/her dissertation. A draft of your thesis should be submitted to the committee 4 weeks before the defense. The defense should be held at least two weeks prior to the deadline for thesis submission which is approximately 1 months prior to the convocation.  However, it is imperative that you check the deadline set by the Dissertation Office for the quarter you intend to graduate.
  • Submit for publication to a refereed scientific journal the thesis which has been approved by the Ph.D. committee or a paper based on the thesis.

The average length of time for completion of the Ph.D. program in physics is approximately six years.

More Information

For more details concerning our graduate program, please consult the Graduate Catalogue or contact either the Graduate Affairs Administrator (Amy Schulz) or the Executive Officer (David Reid). For more information on research opportunities please see our research page. You may also consult our entry in the AIP Grad Programs Book.