Ph.D. Program



Ph.D. in Applied Sciences Physics Option

The Physics Department offers a program leading to a PhD in Applied Science with a specialization in Physics. For information about the graduate program, prospective students should contact Graduate Co-Adviser Prof. Tom Christensen (Effective from 01/01/2021 please also contact Kristen Petersen). Please refer to the physics research page for a summary of primary research interests and programs. The application process is online through Admissions. More information can also be found on the Graduate School website. Enrolled students should contact Graduate Co-Adviser Prof. Tom Christensen, for more information on Comprehensive Exams, Defenses, and graduation paperwork.

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. International transcripts must include all courses and grades, must be issued in the original language, and be accompanied by certified English translations when applicable. This service is provided at no cost for UCCS applicants. More details will be communicated to you via email after we received your completed application.
  • Applicants for whom English is a second language must follow the instructions of the Graduate School
  • UCCS has been working with a 3rd party exclusively to prepare a course by course foreign transcript evaluation for all applicants with foreign transcripts at no cost to the applicant. Please use this link for more information.
  • An oral interview may also be required, 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.

The graduate application forms can be found here.

Program Requirements

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

  1. 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
  2. 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 are 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.


UCCS Physics PhD Handbook

More information can be found in the UCCS Applied Sciences PhD Physics option handbook here. The handbook is updated periodically.


Courses are listed below. Catalog descriptions of classes can be found here.

A grade of "B" or above is needed for a course to be counted towards the PhD degree.

Note: Courses from other departments may also be used as electives with the prior written consent of the graduate advisor.

Physics Core courses (21 hours)

  Course Credits
PHYS 5030 Mathematical Methods in Physics 3
PHYS 5410 Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 6210 Theoretical Mechanics 3
PHYS 6250 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
PHYS 6260 Quantum Mechanics II 3
PHYS 6310 Electromagnetic Theory I 3
PHYS 6320 Electromagnetic Theory II 3

Primary Physics Elective courses (15 hours)

  Course Credits
PHYS 5150 Solid State Laboratory 2
PHYS 5160 Thin Films Laboratory 1
PHYS 5200 Computational Physics 3
PHYS 5220 Nonlinear Physics 3
PHYS 5240 Modern Magnetism: Fundamentals and Applications 3
PHYS 5460 Introduction to Solid State Physics 3
PHYS 5510 Modern Optics 3
PHYS 5480 Surface and Interface Physics (Not taught recently 3
PHYS 5490 Physics of Thin Films (Not taught recently) 3
PHYS 6900 Theory of the Solid State I 3
PHYS 5950 Special Topics (when offered, such as Biophysics,
Nanotechnology, or Theoretical Physics)

Note: Courses from other departments may also be used as electives with the prior written consent of the graduate advisor.

Graduate Physics Courses Schedule

Please note that classes are offered every other year. You must plan accordingly to make sure that you take classes when they are available. The tables below show when we anticipate offering graduate courses.

The core courses should follow the schedule below unless there are exceptional circumstances. Electives are often determined only one or two semesters in advance, depending on faculty availability and student demand. However, we will try to keep close to the schedule below. This is meant as a general guide only.

Academic Year 2020-21, 2022-23, 2024-25, etc.

  Fall (even year) Spring (odd year)
Core: 5030 Mathematical Physics  
Core: 6250 Intro to Quantum Mechanics 6260 Quantum Mechanics II
Elective: 5460 Intro to Solid State Physics I 5470 Solid State Physics II
Elective: 5220 Nonlinear Physics 5150 Solid State Lab
Elective:   5950 Special topics: Biophysics
Elective   5510 Modern Optics

Academic Year 2019-2020, 2021-2022, 2023-24, etc.

  Fall (odd year) Spring (even year)
Core: 5030 Mathematical Physics  
Core: 6210 Theoretical Mechanics 5410 Statistical Mechanics
Core: 6310 Electromagnetic Theory I 6320 Electromagnetic Theory II
Elective: 5200 Computational Physics 5220 Modern Magnetism
Elective: 6950 Special topics: Nanotechnology 5950 Special topics: Biophysics

Other courses that are not on 2 year schedule but will be included as appropriate:
- 6900 Theory of the solid state 1
- 6910 Theory of the solid state 2
- 5950 & 6950 Special topics (Group Theory, etc - as available)

UCCS Physics PhD Handbook

More information can be found in the UCCS Applied Sciences PhD Physics option handbook here. The handbook is updated periodically.