Physics, PhD


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program Delivery

On Campus

Total Credits

66 Credits

About the Program

The Physics Department offers a PhD program in Applied Science with a specialization in Physics.

We have access to over 10,000 square feet of research lab space and over $6,000,000 worth of lab equipment.

Both experimental and theoretical studies are supported by external and internal grants and scholarships.

Focus of Study

Our PhD program offers students unique opportunities to carry out work and research at the forefront of both Theoretical and Experimental Physics in the following areas:

  • Solid State and Quantum Physics
  • Fundamental Magnetism, Spintronics, and Magnetic Devices
  • Nanotechnology and plasmonics
  • Liquid Crystals and applications
  • Bio-Physics
  • Nonlinear physics and chaos

For a summary of our department's primary research interests and programs, please visit the Research page.

Degree Requirements

The student must complete a minimum of 66 hours of coursework and dissertation. This includes:

A minimum of 36 hours of course work with GPA above 3.0

  • 21 hours of Core courses
  • 15 hours of Specialization, Elective or Interdisciplinary courses

A minimum of 30 hours of dissertation work, pass the comprehensive exam, and complete and successfully defend the dissertation.

More details can be found in our PhD handbook but some key points about the dissertation are noted here.

  • By the time students have successfully completed the coursework requirements of the PhD program, they must identify a dissertation adviser who agrees to supervise their research work. Students should enroll in dissertation hours with their adviser and to do so should ask the Physics Program Assistant for an enrollment code. Students who do not identify a willing dissertation adviser must exit the program with a Masters degree, if all the MS requirements have been met, after giving an exit talk.
  • After taking 9-12 dissertation credit hours, students must complete the Comprehensive Exam. This is administered by the dissertation advisory committee to determine if the dissertation topic is appropriate, and if the student is adequately prepared for work on the dissertation. Students refusing to take the comprehensive exam when asked by Physics faculty member(s) may have a hold placed on their enrollment until it is completed.
  • To complete the dissertation, it is expected that a student must make a significant new scientific contribution. Several first-author peer-reviewed publications would normally be expected. Note that publications which are not subjected to peer review may not counted as part of a “significant scientific contribution.” Students and dissertation advisers are encouraged to communicate clearly with each other about the expectations and scope of work.
  • After the dissertation has been accepted by the dissertation advisor, a final oral dissertation defense examination will be conducted by the dissertation advisory committee. The dissertation committee will contain physics faculty plus one outside member of the graduate faculty (from another department or another university). The dissertation adviser will be in charge of choosing the committee. A complete version of the dissertation should be sent at least a week before the scheduled oral defense.

Program Coursework

For details on program coursework, please visit the Academic Catalog.

The current and anticipated course schedules can be found here.

Admission Requirements

All applicants at a minimum requirement must:

  •  Hold a baccalaureate degree in biological sciences, mathematics, physics or equivalents from an accredited college or university and have an appropriate background of undergraduate physics courses
  •  Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 ("A" is equivalent to 4.0)
  •  Submit 1 Official Transcript of all previous graduate and undergraduate work.
  •  Provide three letters of recommendation, all past university transcripts and fill out an application form
  •  Submit 1 goal statement
  •  Have interests that fit with our department's research directions

Promising students who do not meet all of the requirements may be considered as provisional applicants. Provisional status may be removed when the student fulfills all the requirements set out by the Physics Department when they were admitted. Students admitted provisionally should work with the Physics graduate adviser to ensure they have all the coursework preparation needed before undertaking graduate-level classes.

Additional requirements for some students
  • Students with international transcripts must take the Physics GRE exam. A minimum score for regular admission is in the range of 520-550.
  • Applicants for whom English is a second language must complete the TOEFL exam with a minimum score of 560 (paper-based exam) or 83 (internet-based exam) or 220 (internet-based exam). A band score of 6.5 on the IELTS is also acceptable. If the student has successfully completed one year of full-time academic study at a U.S. institution, this requirement can be waived. An oral interview with Physics faculty may also be required as proof of English proficiency, as the department sees fit.
  • Applicants who already hold a Masters degree in Physics should discuss their application with a potential faculty research adviser in advance, and mention these discussions in their goal statement.

Satisfying these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to our program.

For information about the graduate program, current and prospective students should contact Graduate Co-Adviser Prof. Robert Camley at (Effective from 01/01/2021 please also contact Kristen Petersen at

For more information regarding the application process, please visit the UCCS Graduate School website and our Handbook.