Graduate Program

Admissions | How To Apply | Financial Information | Graduate Handbook | Why Utah?

Academic Program

Approximately 20 students enter the graduate program annually, with an even split between those entering the M.S. and PhD programs. The M.S. degree in the Department of Physics & Astronomy requires a thesis or non-thesis degree and provides comprehensive course and research experience. Most graduate students are supported financially throughout their graduate career via a combination of teaching assistant-ships, research assistant-ships, and fellowships. Our admissions standards are high, and hence 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, MA/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, and High-energy/Particle Physics. 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 progress toward your degree, meanwhile 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 like which courses to take, and 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!

Director of Graduate Studies (DoGS)
Department of Physics & Astronomy

Director of Graduate Studies   Secretary of Graduate Studies
Wayne Springer

(801) 585-1390
  Jackie Hadley

(801) 581-6861
  • 201 James Fletcher Bldg. 115 S. 1400 E., Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0830
  • 801-581-6901
  • Fax 801-581-4801
  • ©2017 The University of Utah