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Typically, graduate students complete two years of course work, and then focus on PhD research. The standard first-year courses provide a foundation for all areas of research, while the second-year courses introduce students to more specialized material. By the end of the second year, students have investigated research possibilities and begun preliminary reading and/or research in a field of interest. Subsequently, they pursue their doctoral research under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Most graduate students complete all requirements for a PhD in six years.

Students who have taken advanced courses prior to entering our program may be allowed to waive some of the required courses, although this is generally true only for students who pass the PhD Qualifying Examination when they first arrive at the University. Students whose undergraduate programs do not cover all of the material covered in our BS program may be allowed to take some of the advanced undergraduate courses to prepare for the standard graduate courses.

In addition to the PhD program, we offer thesis option and non-thesis option two-year master’s degree programs. Financial support is generally limited to students in the PhD program. Students who want to pursue master’s degrees with financial support from employers of foreign governments should contact the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies prior to applying to the program.

Students have a wide range of choices for PhD research. Members of our faculty are engaged in experiments in condensed matter physics, particle physics and observational astronomy. Others pursue theoretical studies in condensed matter physics, particle physics and cosmology. Several of our faculty also pursue research in Physics Education. Faculty from other disciplines, including chemistry, engineering and medical imaging also serve as PhD research advisors for our students.

The Physics Department places a high value on teaching. Our Graduate Teaching Assistants play a key role in the Department’s educational efforts. Both the Department and the University provide training and mentoring to help our students become more effective educators. For those considering academic careers, we strongly encourage participation in the University's Preparing Future Faculty program.