University of California, Irvine

4129 Frederick Reines Hall, Irvine, California 92697, United States of America


The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UC Irvine offers a program of graduate study leading to a Ph.D. degree in Physics. Our graduate course curriculum provides a foundation in fundamental physics and elective courses in a broad range of topical

In 1965, physicist and future Nobel Laureate Frederick Reines became the founding dean of UCI’s School of Physical Sciences. Reines won his Nobel prize for the discovery of the elusive neutrino, a feat that he set out to complete “Because everybody said, you couldn’t do it.” This bold mindset, one that allows us to tackle the hardest problems in nature, is alive and thriving today in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Research within our department includes aims to decipher the makeup of the universe as a whole, to understand the behavior of quantum materials, and to build novel approaches to medical imaging that will save lives. Our quest connects the smallest scales in nature (particle physics) to the largest scales in the cosmos (astrophysics). Biophysicists seek to understand the world within us while astro-biologists seek to discover habitable worlds beyond the solar system. The largest and most advanced private fusion company in the world, TAE Technologies, was founded on ideas developed by our plasma physics group and employs many of our graduates (including CEO Michl Binderbauer). We are proud to have been ranked the 22nd best physics department in the world by Shanghai Ranking in 2018. We are also proud to foster an environment of inclusive excellence for all of our faculty, staff, and students.

Program Requirements

The requirements for the M.S. degree are: (1) at least three quarters of residence; (2) mastery of graduate course material, which must be demonstrated by passing, with a grade of "B" or better, a minimum of seven quarter courses including 211, 212A, 213A, 213B or 240C, 214A, 215A-B, two courses numbered between 200-259, and two other courses approved by the graduate advisor; and (3) either option A, a research project and written thesis, or option B, a comprehensive written examination. Students pursuing option A typically complete three quarters of research, enrolling in Physics 295 or 296. Students following option B should take Physics 215B. There is no foreign language requirement. For option A, the thesis need be of no specified length or format, but must report significant results in readable, meaningful form while at the same time revealing the student's general grasp of the field and awareness of related work.
For option B, the comprehensive examination for the M.S. degree is identical to that for the Ph.D. degree. The level of performance required for the M.S. degree by examination is identical to the required level of performance for the Ph.D. degree.

The principal requirements for the Ph.D. degree are a minimum of six quarters of residence, passage of a written and an oral examination, and successful completion and defense of a dissertation reporting results of original research. In addition, the Ph.D. candidate must complete certain graduate course requirements. Experience in teaching is an integral part of the graduate program, and all Ph.D. students are required to participate in the teaching program for at least one quarter during their graduate careers. Foreign students must pass a campus-approved spoken English proficiency examination (required in order to be a teaching assistant) by the time they advance to candidacy. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
GRE Requirements: Not Required
Physics GRE Requirements: Not Required
TOEFL Requirements: Required