Attention prospective students: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to accommodate in-person campus visits at this time. Instead, we have several virtual opportunities for you to learn more about physics at CMU. To make an appointment with a faculty member, or for general questions about our program, please reach out to our Student Programs Coordinator. Please also see the CMU Admissions page for general information and virtual visit opportunities!
Physics Graduate Program
Our graduate program trains students at the leading edge of physics research, preparing them to become the next generation of leaders in academia and industry. The first two years of the graduate curriculum are designed to provide students with the solid foundation necessary to perform research in their chosen area of specialization. During this period, they study core physics areas such as quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, electrodynamics or condensed matter theory. They then specialize in areas such as astrophysics, biophysics, nanophysics, quark interactions or high energy physics and have to opportunity to perform interdisciplinary work at the boundaries of chemistry, biology, materials science, and engineering.
Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics should expect to spend at least four years, or the equivalent, in full-time graduate study, including a minimum of one year of full-time work at Carnegie Mellon. Formal admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. depends on acceptable performance in teaching, research and course work, as well as the Qualifying Examination. Affiliation with a research group is encouraged to happen before admission to Ph.D. candidacy and can take place as early as the first semester; it is expected that those arrangements have been made at the latest by the end of the second year of graduate study.
Beyond the conventional Ph.D. program, Carnegie Mellon offers a degree in Applied Physics. Ph.D. thesis research that may appropriately be characterized as Applied Physics can be carried out either within the Physics Department or in conjunction with other branches of the University, such as the Robotics Institute, the Data Storage Systems Center, the Materials Science and Engineering Department or the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
Service performed as a teaching or research assistant is part of the graduate training. Such service, or its equivalent, is required of all candidates for graduate degrees whether or not they receive stipends.