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Graduate Program

Applications for Fall 2020 are closed.

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The Department of Physics & Astronomy is accepting applications for the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Programs for the Fall 2020 semester. Application packages can be submitted via the ApplyYourself platform. We require the following documents as part of the application: GRE General Test scores, previous academic transcript(s), a CV/Resume, a statement of purpose document addressing (i) something related to physics or astronomy that an applicant finds exciting (500 words maximum), (ii) an applicant's goals for graduate school and her/his future career and how these goals match the opportunities offered by the research programs in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.  If possible, an applicant should identify specific faculty contacts and address how his/her background and life experiences have contributed to the decision to pursue a graduate degree (500 words maximum); 
(iii) A list of all physics and astronomy courses taken (undergraduate and graduate, if applicable), the grade earned in each course, and the total subject-specific GPA for the courses in this list. 

The Physics Subject GRE is optional.

Separately, applications will also require the submission of Letters of Recommendation (at least three are  preferred and no more than five). Prospective students are strongly encouraged to request letters from their undergraduate research advisor(s), and other faculty in physics/astronomy.  

 Academic Program

The M.S. degree in the Department of Physics and Astronomy requires a thesis or non-thesis degree and provides comprehensive course and research experience. Most graduate students in pursuit of a PhD are supported financially throughout their graduate career via a combination of teaching assistant-ships, research assistant-ships, and fellowships. Our admissions standards are high, so the competition is rigorous for limited number of open positions within the program. Admission is based on an evaluation of both an applicant's academic profile and research potential.

A student undertakes graduate study in physics to accomplish several goals: first, to develop a broad and sophisticated knowledge of the field as a whole; second, to acquire a deep and thorough understanding of some specialized field; to contribute to the body of knowledge of that field through his or her own research; and finally, to prepare the foundation for a rewarding career in physics, astronomy, or one of the many diverse fields of industry and finance to which physicists contribute.

We offer a number of options to achieve these goals. Most of our students seek a Ph.D. in Physics, but we also confer Ph.D's in Chemical Physics. We offer several types of master's degrees as well: the Physics, MS/MPhil/PhD, and the Physics Teaching MS. We admit students into our program as master's degree candidates only for the first two M.S. degrees. The role of the Master's in Physics is to provide either a milestone or an alternative to the Ph.D. for predoctoral students.

Your choice of research specialization can define your career. We offer a wide range of subject areas, including Astronomy Astrophysics, Atomic physics, Biophysics, Chemical Physics, Condensed Matter, High-energy/Particle Physics, and Physics Education Research (PER). In addition, some of us work in multidisciplinary specializations, for example, nano-science and medical physics. A current list of our specializations, with links to the names faculty working in those areas is here.

A big part of your graduate experience will be related to how you financially handle being in grad school. It is typical for your tuition to be covered under the University's Tuition Benefits Program, which is available to you if you serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or work as a Research Assistant (RA) for your thesis advisor. While there are time limitations, you will find that the benefits offered by the University enable you to keep focused on progressing toward your degree, while providing allowance for day-to-day expenses, including health insurance.

The handbook contains information on the graduate experience in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. We cover the rules—namely degree requirements such as  which courses to take, what exams you'll need to pass, as well as policy regarding teaching assistant-ships (TA), the all-important rules of tuition benefits, and even a little about life as a graduate student. We start you off with this link, it points to the Graduate School, the ultimate authority on policy concerning all of the University of Utah's graduate programs. Please peruse it for the wealth it contains! We hope that it helps make your graduate experience here in our own Department rich and rewarding!

For more information, contact:

Director of Graduate Studies

Zheng Zheng 
(801) 585-5973

Graduate Admissions

Bryce Nelson
(801) 581-6861

Last Updated: 2/14/20