Graduate Program in Physics

Astronomy lab discussion

Graduate students at George Washington University explore physics through small, lab-based classes and unique research and mentoring opportunities. Our proximity to institutions including NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Space Telescope Science Institute, Jefferson Lab, Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland provides opportunities for collaboration and networking.

Our 2:1 graduate-student-to-faculty ratio creates a personal atmosphere where the faculty knows each student and can accommodate special needs and interests on an individual basis. In order to provide as broad an education to our students as possible, we have created programs that allow students to combine a PhD 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.




    Graduate student to faculty ratio


    Students in graduate program

    2-3 years

    Typical MS program study

    5-6 years

    Typical PhD program study


    Program Benefits 

    People discussing in a Corcoran study lounge

    Physics students actively participate in conferences organized at GW. 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