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The Department of Physics offers graduate work leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Note: a Master of Science degree is offered only to current University of Massachusetts Amherst students.

Candidates planning to major in physics should have completed at least (preferably, more than) 15 semester credit hours in undergraduate physics beyond an introductory calculus-based sequence and also 6 credits of mathematics beyond college-level calculus.

All degree candidates are required to perform teaching in the department.

The general requirements for the Ph.D. in Physics are those of the Graduate School in addition to Physics requirements. The latter are implemented along the following lines. Students are required to pass the graduate introductory program of studies consisting of 6 courses. The typical sequence in the first year is to focus on core courses that cover basic physics at the advanced level: 601, 605, 606, 614. In the second year, the student selects 615 and a research area course during the first semester before attempting the qualifying exam. Occasionally, this sequence can be adjusted on a case by case basis depending on previous preparation. (Note: A passing grade is considered to be B- or better.) Students are required to take three research courses at the 700 and 800 level; one in the student's area of research, a second in a related area of research, and a third must be in a totally distinct subfield. Students making normal progress are expected to pass the qualifying examination (written exams and oral presentation) during the second year, and then devote their major efforts to research, taking the occasional course either of interest to them or of direct relevance to the research program. The department requires no foreign-language reading competency for the doctorate. A student must register for 18 credits in physics under 899 Doctoral Dissertation.


  • 530 Radiation Physics
  • 531 Electronics for Scientists I
  • 553 Optics
  • 556 Nuclei and Elementary Particles
  • 558 Solid State Physics
  • 564 Introductory Advanced Quantum Mechanics
  • 568 Cosmology and General Relativity
  • 590K Biological Physics
  • 601 Classical Mechanics
  • 602 Statistical Physics
  • 605 Methods of Mathematical Physics
  • 606 Classical Electrodynamics I
  • 614 Intermediate Quantum Mechanics I
  • 615 Intermediate Quantum Mechanics II
  • 696 Independent Study
  • 699 Master’s Thesis
  • 714 Introductory High Energy Physics
  • 715 Introductory Solid State Physics
  • 716 Introduction to Superfluidity and Superconductivity
  • 724 Group Theory in Quantum Mechanics
  • 811 Field Theory
  • 813 High Energy Physics
  • 817 Advanced Statistical Physics
  • 821 General Relativity
  • 850 Soft Condensed Matter
  • 852 Special Topics in High Energy Physics
  • 853 Special Topics in Solid State Physics
  • 860 Seminar on Research Topics
  • 890B The Gluckstern Lectures/BioPhysics
  • 899 Doctoral Dissertation
  • A completed Application Form.
  • A $75 application fee. This fee cannot be waived or deferred.
  • International Student Sponsor Statement is required of all international students.
  • One official transcript from all colleges/universities attended, undergraduate and graduate, where (nine) 9 or more credits were taken are required. If they are not mailed directly from the college/university, they should be enclosed in sealed envelopes signed by the college/university.  If the official transcripts and/or degree certificate(s) are not in English, notarized English language translations in duplicate must accompany them. Do not list colleges/universities where (eight) 8 or fewer credits were taken.
  • Letters of recommendation (academic references) from two (2) professors or instructors who have taught you in courses in the field you are applying to here. After submission of the electronic application, we will send an email to each referee giving them instructions on how to electronically deliver the recommendation to the Graduate School. All recommendations will be considered confidential unless the applicant doesn't waive his/her right of access.
  • Scores from the following standard examinations:
    • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)-General Test required by nearly all graduate programs - (refer to Degrees and Programs Offered)
    • GRE SUBJECT TEST (not a universal requirement-refer to the Programspage for those programs requiring a Subject Test)
    • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)-for graduate applicants to Management, Hospitality & Tourism Management, and Sport Management

    • English Language Test: Either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)-only the academic version of test is accepted, or PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)


Most students admitted to the department receive financial aid in the form of either a teaching or a research assistantship, and normally continue to receive financial aid throughout their studies. A limited number of fellowships are also available; they are competitive within the University, and the department has averaged one per year. Research assistants receive stipends competitive with those offered by other major research universities. Teaching assistants are given nine-month appointments at a rate similar to that for research assistants. In many cases, teaching assistants can receive additional remuneration for teaching or research duties carried out in the summer.

Teaching assistants work about eighteen hours per week and their duties include grading of papers, classroom teaching, and laboratory instruction. Students who receive either teaching or research assistantships or fellowships are granted a waiver of all tuition and most fees, and a 95% reduction in the cost of their medical plan. All graduate students, regardless of their means of financial support, are expected to take advantage of numerous opportunities to gain a minimum of one year of teaching experience.

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