Department of Physics and Astronomy


Physics and Astronomy graduate students pursue new knowledge and understanding by conducting experimental and/or computational research.  Collaboration with faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and peer graduate and undergraduate students is encouraged.  Together, faculty and students consistently seek to improve their methods and directions to achieve high impact in the topics of greatest importance to humanity.  Prior to joining the group of a thesis adviser, incoming Ph.D. students initiate discussion with at least five faculty members of interest during Spring semester of their first year;  students should have joined a research group to start their thesis research at the beginning of summer of the first year.  Students are encouraged to engage productively in research problems as early as possible in the program.

The first three or four semesters of the Ph.D. program involve significant coursework, on topics including quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, electrodynamics, and mathematical methods, and with electives in topics such as advanced and stellar astrophysics, optical spectroscopy, materials and semiconductor physics, and photovoltaic device physics.  The breadth and depth afforded by the course requirements prepares students for their thesis/dissertation research project, during which their knowledge is applied, exercised, and extended.

Students in M.S. programs similarly follow a combined schedule of coursework and research.

More information on the pathway to a Ph.D. or M.S. degree can be found on the Degree Requirements page.   See also the Physics & Astronomy 2022-2023 Graduate Handbook.  

Last Updated: 6/21/22