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Physics (PHD) 
Program Description

Our Ph.D. program is designed to put students in direct contact with the topics and questions that are at the forefront of contemporary physics research. Never satisfied with traditional ways of approaching problems and inspired by a strong interdisciplinary vision, we believe in pushing the envelope in research and teaching. We stand out by offering students research opportunities as part of the curriculum, immediately upon entering our program.

Our doctoral program is flexible, designed to accommodate a broad range of interests and backgrounds. Many of our entering students find that their interests change while they're here, but our diverse research areas and degree options allow graduate students the versatility to do their best work, regardless of where their investigations lead them. If you're ambitious and motivated, you'll find that our Ph.D. program will challenge you to reach your highest level of achievement. 

Just as collaboration and flexibility are strengths of our graduate program in Physics, the breadth of our curriculum is another. The Physics Department offers a wide variety of courses, fostering an unsurpassed environment for learning and discovery. In addition to the core graduate-level curriculum, we also offer breadth courses that introduce students to new topics, and specialty courses that bring students up-to-date on the current state of knowledge in their chosen fields. Early independent-study research projects are strongly encouraged to connect students with individual professors in their areas of study.

Students who seek interdisciplinary research  may develop a minor specialization outside of physics, taking advantage of the richness of course offerings in other departments. Our program is flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of interests, yet rigorous enough to ensure the deepest levels of academic excellence and preparation.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Physics -

Physics at the University of Arizona is vested in discovery. Our department is probing the limits of what's known about the physical world, challenging boundaries, and exploring new directions. With internationally renowned programs and dedicated faculty who are leaders in their fields, we offer an environment that fuses cutting-edge research with teaching excellence.  Our world-class faculty and students are constantly working on a wide variety of topics across major physics disciplines. We’re exploring the boundaries of what’s known at the largest and smallest scales in the universe, and stretching the limits of what’s possible in the manipulation of matter and energy recognizing unsolved problems as opportunities for scientific breakthroughs.

College of Science  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Hildegard K Lueders
Graduate Program Coordinator
Hildegard K Lueders
Director of Graduate Studies
Sean P Fleming
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Christina M Inocencio
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements
  • Statement of purpose
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • A list of upper division physics courses taken, name of texts/books used, and grades received.
  • GRE and Physics Subject GRE

International Students:

  • TOEFL : 550 (PB), 79 (iBT) or higher
  • IELTS: 7 or higher.
Standardized Tests

GRE and Physics subject GRE are required. We do not apply stringent minimal GRE or subject GRE scores for admission.

Financial Aid

All students in the entering class are guarantueed Teaching Assistantships (TAs), which include tuition and healthcare.  Research Assistantships (RAs) are available from individual faculty usually as students transition to research.  Our program has been and is expected to be able to fund all of our students by either TAs or RAs for the duration of their stay in the PhD program.

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: January 1

International Applicants:

  • Fall: December 1
International Conditional Admission
International applicants may be considered for conditional admission to this program at the department's discretion.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 0808
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Physics

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Credit requirements:
36 in Physics (or cross-listed) graduate-level courses, including Indpendent-research studies. 
9 in the Minor Field (which also may be Physics)
18 Dissertation Credits

Core coursework:
None. Although most of our student follow the recommended core curriculum we do not have any required core courses.

Comprehensive Exam:
After the third semester students take a written exam on core course material (Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Statistical mechanics). Students are allowed to retake the exam. The oral portion of the exam, in which the students presents a research proposal, is typically within 6 months after passing the written portion. 

Thesis defense:
Upon the completion of the dissertation, the candidate must submit to a Final Oral Defense Examination.

Other requirements:
Starting no later than the fourth semester, each graduate student must have a substantive affiliation with a Ph.D. advisor or research group and be making demonstrable progress towards the completion of the Ph.D. degree.  Once students have passed their Comprehensive Exam,  they are required to meet yearly with their Ph.D/oral exam committee and give a short (~20 minutes) seminar to report on progress made.  

Minor Requirements

If Physics is chosen as the Minor, the Minor requirement is fulfilled by 9 credits consisting of at least 3 graduate-level courses from varying Physics sub-fields to provide extra breadth to the curriculum. Exceptions are possible in consultancy with the Director of Graduate Studies to ensure maximum flexibility. 

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 50%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 6.50
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 82%
Enrollment Percent Female 18%
Enrollment Percent International 39%
Enrollment Percent URM 9%

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Last revised 06 Sep 2016