Boston University

590 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, United States of America


The Boston University Physics Department offers a PhD in Physics while providing its graduate students with a wide range of research opportunities in experimental, theoretical, and computational physics.

Active research areas at BU Physics include elementary particle physics, condensed-matter physics, statistical physics, econophysics, materials physics, and biological physics. In all of these areas, the department offers programs leading to a degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. Students admitted to the PhD program may opt for a master’s degree en route to the PhD if they satisfy the appropriate requirements.

Program Requirements

The admissions process for the Boston University Physics PhD program is holistic, in that we consider many factors, and there is no strict cutoff based on GRE scores (which are optional for 2022) or GPA. We strive to build a highly qualified and diverse class where every student has an excellent chance of thriving and working with a research advisor in their field of interest. Each year our admission goals are adjusted based on the opportunities in theoretical, experimental, and computational sub-fields, and the basis for admission varies within each discipline.

BU Physics offers a PhD in Physics with an optional MA degree en route to the PhD.

The PhD degree requires the completion of 64 credit hours (equivalent to sixteen semester courses), a preliminary oral exam, a departmental seminar, completion of a dissertation, and a dissertation oral defense. The dissertation must exhibit an original contribution to the field. Each student must satisfy a residency requirement of a minimum of two consecutive regular semesters of full-time graduate study at Boston University.

The MA degree requires the completion of 32 credit hours (equivalent to eight semester courses). The requirements for a master’s degree may be satisfied as part of the PhD degree program.
GRE Requirements: Recommended
Physics GRE Requirements: Recommended
TOEFL Requirements: Required

Description of your department culture

The Boston University Physics Department provides a welcoming and nurturing environment for all its students, graduate and undergraduate. The BU Physics PhD program educates students to become scholars and researchers in physics. Our graduates are trained to teach and carry out original research that is theoretical, experimental, computational, or a blend of these approaches.

In addition to our own full-time physics faculty, students may work with one of many affiliated faculty whose primary appointments are in other departments, including Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics. Our faculty are printed and featured in numerous publications, hold high-level positions at major experiments around the world, and over half are Fellows of the American Physical Society.

In terms of student life, the department boasts a number of organizations for graduate students, including the Graduate Student Council (Grad Council) and Women in Physics (WIP). The Grad Council meets regularly with the department to advocate for physics graduate students as well as organizes events open to all physics graduate students, such as colloquium and industry lunches, student seminars, and departmental and ice cream socials. The monthly socials are open to faculty, staff, and students. WIP promotes the advancement and success of female physicists, and organizes and hosts events for them (male colleagues are welcome to participate). There is also a Teaching Group that meets to discuss physics teaching, pedagogy and novel active learning.

Along with student-led activities, the department hosts several events, including an annual Pumpkin Drop, which involves dropping pumpkins, filled with whipped cream and neon paint, from a height of 60 feet. This popular event, serves as an educational tool, while typically being highlighted in the local news. In addition, the department hosts a weekly colloquium, and students have a private lunch with the speaker. A special colloquium, the Dean S. Edmonds Sr. Memorial Lecture, is given annually. This lecture is delivered by a distinguished physicist. Awards for teaching and research are presented to students just before this particular colloquium.