Graduate Program in Physics

Astronomy lab discussion

Graduate students explore physics through small, lab-based classes and unique research and mentoring opportunities. Having NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Space Telescope Science Institute, Jefferson Lab, Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland within a close proximity provides multiple opportunities for collaboration and networking.

In order to provide as broad an education to our students as possible, we have created programs where a physics student can combine Ph.D. in physics with certificates in High Performance Computing and Data Science. After graduation, many students pursue doctoral and postdoctoral programs at some of the world’s most prestigious universities, while others secure lucrative research positions as analysts and data scientists at companies like Facebook and IBM. The MS and PhD programs in physics are U.S. Department of Homeland Security STEM-designated degree programs.

    Join the Graduate Programs Virtual Open House: October 17–27

    Registration is open for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences 2023 Open House! The online event includes program-specific information sessions and opportunities to engage with current graduate students, faculty and our admissions team.

    The Physics Department is hosting an information session for prospective graduate students on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. 

    Registration and Details

    CCAS Graduate Virtual Open House

    Program Benefits

    People discussing in a Corcoran study lounge

    At present, we have more than 40 students in our graduate program with an approximate 2/1 student-to-faculty ratio. Physics students actively participate in conferences organized at GW. This allows us to create a personal atmosphere where the faculty knows each student and can accommodate special needs and interests on an individual basis. A typical length of study toward a Ph.D. degree is 5-6 years while for M.S. degree it is 2-3 years.

    Our master’s and doctoral students collaborate with labs in Germany and Switzerland, present at conferences around the world and win awards for their efforts at GW Research Days. Thanks to the unique Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, our program students can also take courses at University of Maryland and other universities in the D.C. area.

    Funding Opportunities

    The Department of Physics and the wider university provide the financial help you need to make your graduate school experience as successful as it can be.

    Presidential Merit Fellowships (PhD Students)

    The university's most prestigious graduate awards, Presidential Merit Fellowships are given to qualified students with very high GPAs and GRE scores on a university-wide competitive basis. The Physics Department requires prospective candidates to have research interests matching existing strong areas of research within the department. The fellowships are awarded for three years, subject to continued satisfactory performance. No teaching is required, and early participation in the department's research activities is expected.

    Funding: $26,000 over nine months, plus tuition

    Find More Fellowships


    Bell Atlantic Graduate Fellowship

    This fellowship is awarded by the Physics Department for a three-year period. Fellows will have high GPAs and GRE scores. This award involves no teaching duties, and early involvement in research is strongly encouraged. Contact the Physics Department for more information.

    Funding: $23,000 over nine months, plus tuition

    Graduate Teaching Assistantships (PhD Students)

    Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) are awarded to qualified PhD students by the Physics Department for a maximum of four years. Normally, teaching requirements are three undergraduate laboratory/recitation sections and/or grading of undergraduate homework assignments in large-capacity courses. Students generally hold GTAs for the first two or three years of their graduate study. Prospective PhD students may apply for GTA positions as part of the application form.

    Funding: $20,000–$23,000 over nine months, plus tuition

    Research Assistantships (PhD Students)

    Research assistantships are funded by external research grants, awards to physics faculty from federal agencies and other organizations. Usually, research assistantships are reserved for advanced graduate students who have passed the PhD qualifying examinations and have begun their thesis research.

    Funding: $20,000–$24,000 over 12 months; may include tuition

    Summer Research Jobs

    The intention of the short-term summer research awards is to give students the opportunity to work with a particular group within the Physics Department and become acquainted with research in a hands-on way. Students usually apply to complete these positions in the first and second summer during the course of their studies. Contact the Physics Department for more information.

    Funding: $4,500–$7,000 over three months


    Resources and Aid