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Graduate Program


A typical graduate student seeking a PhD in physics or in physics and astronomy would follow a path such as 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 a specific thesis subject requiring 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

It usually takes five to seven years to complete the PhD program. Along the way, students develop the skills to create and conduct innovative research that advances the frontiers of physics or astronomy.

Interested in applying? Visit our application page for instructions and a link to our online application.

Support and Fellowships

Students admitted into the PhD program receive a 90-credit hour tuition scholarship, along with a stipend which covers most reasonable living expenses here in Rochester. The PhD Program requires two semester of teaching assistantships, usually completed during a student's first academic year of study. Subsequently, however, students are encouraged to seek support as research assistants with one of the research groups.

The department also has fellowships that may be awarded to supplement the base teaching or research stipends. See the financial support page for more details. 

For Current Students

PASSAGE: Physics and Astronomy Society for Graduate Student Engagement

Incoming Students

Welcome to our incoming class! Check out our incoming students page for information on important dates, and to see our pre- and post-arrival checklists.


Have questions? Contact Laura Blumkin, Graduate Program Coordinator, or fill out our inquiry form.