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Graduate Program

Program Overview

A typical graduate student seeking a Ph.D. in Physics or in Physics and Astronomy would follow a path like this:

  • Learn about the fundamentals of physics and astronomy in formal courses, and about current research activities in seminars and colloquia and through personal contact with faculty
  • Learn to teach physics and/or astronomy by serving as a teaching assistant
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the fundamentals of physics in the preliminary examination
  • Join a research group
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a specialty area, and a capability for performing research, by passing the qualifying examination
  • Conduct research, write and publish articles describing the work, and identify as soon as possible a specific thesis subject that would require independent and original work that could be included in a dissertation
  • Write and defend a dissertation, a substantial and original contribution to knowledge in physics or astronomy

Along the way, one gradually masters a research specialty, and develops into a professional scientist: an independent and critical thinker, capable both of conceiving and conducting innovative research programs that advance the frontiers of physics or astronomy, and of disseminating the resulting knowledge widely and effectively.

The Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Rochester seeks students who have demonstrated the potential to develop into a scientist of high caliber. The Department will provide many research opportunities, and will do its best to maintain an environment in which you can realize your potential. Please keep in mind, however, that the factors most important for success in this endeavor are your own initiative, intelligence, creativity, and capacity for hard work.

If you are interested in our program and would like to apply, you can begin the application here: Graduate Application .

If you would like inquire about our program prior to beginning your application, please complete our inquiry form. Our Graduate Coordinator, Laura Blumkin, will receive your request and reply back. You may also send email to Laura directly at