PhD in Physics


Professor of Physics Harald Griesshammer (left) point at a white board while talking to a female student (right)


The PhD in Physics program prepares students for teaching and research-based positions in physics. Working alongside our renowned faculty mentors, PhD students become experts in their field. 

Doctoral students delve into a research specialty chosen from the departmental core areas: nuclear physics, biophysics or astrophysics. They join a research lab corresponding to their interests and often work as teaching assistants, research assistants or fellows during their studies. 

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester: January 15
Spring Semester: October 1 (Note: Spring admission is not always offered to PhD applicants.)



Course Requirements 

Note: We are in the process of updating some of the requirements listed below and in the University Bulletin.  PHYS 6510 is no longer required. You may need to request a waiver for this course from the Physics Graduate Advisor while the changes are still being made in the University Bulletin. PHYS 6810  (Applied Statistics and Data Analysis in Physics)  is being added to the list of elective courses.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

Students must pass a general examination and an oral defense of the doctoral research program.

PHYS 6110Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics
PHYS 6120Advanced Mechanics
PHYS 6210Electrodynamics and Classical Field Theory
PHYS 6220Quantum Mechanics I
PHYS 6310Statistical Mechanics
PHYS 6320Quantum Mechanics II
PHYS 6130Computational Physics I
PHYS 6230Computational Physics II
PHYS 6330Computational Physics III
PHYS 6510Communications in Physics
One of the following options:
Option A
PHYS 6610Nuclear and Particle Physics I
PHYS 6710Nuclear and Particle Physics II
Option B
PHYS 6620Biophysics I
PHYS 6720Biophysics II
Option C
PHYS 6630Astrophysics I
PHYS 6730Astrophysics II

 Specific course requirements can be waived on a case-by-case basis upon approval of the department’s graduate advisor.

Research fields

  • Nuclear physics—experimental and theoretical studies on the structure, electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions, and scattering of few-body systems at low and intermediate energies;
  • Biophysics and condensed-matter physics—experimental, theoretical, and computational studies of structures and functions of cells, biological networks and biomolecules, deciphering information encoded in genome; 
  • Theoretical and observational astrophysics—high-energy astrophysics, multi-wavelength studies of extreme energy-density environments and huge energy releases in astrophysical objects;
  • Interdisciplinary physics, including energy research and physics education research.