About

The Physics Department pursues research that spans a diverse range of areas of physics, with equal emphasis on theory and experiment.

The Department of Physics offers curricula leading to the following degrees:

MS, Physics

CPhil, Physics

PhD, Physics

PhD, Physics (Biophysics)

PhD, Physics, Specialization in Computational Neuroscience

PhD, Physics, Specialization in Computational Science

PhD, Physics, Specialization in Quantitative Biology

Biophysics students will receive their MS (if applicable) and CPhil degrees in physics. Only their PhD will be in physics (biophysics).

Entering graduate students are required to have a sound knowledge of undergraduate mechanics, electricity, and magnetism; to have had senior courses or their equivalent in atomic and quantum physics, nuclear physics, and thermodynamics; and to have taken upper-division laboratory work. An introductory course in solid-state physics is desirable.

Students may choose to pursue a master’s degree en route to the PhD or may choose to leave with a terminal MS Requirements for the master of science degree can be met according to Plan I (master’s thesis) or Plan II (comprehensive examination). (See “Graduate Studies: Master’s Degrees.”) For Plan II, the comprehensive examination is an oral exam. A list of acceptable courses is available in the Department of Physics Graduate Student Affairs office.

Program Requirements

Master's:
A "B" average in 38 units of graduate work and a comprehensive oral examination or written thesis are required. There is no language requirement. Three quarters of residency are required. UCSD does not offer a terminal master's degree in Physics.

Doctorate:
A "B" average must be maintained in all coursework. Seven core courses, completion of five advanced courses, completion of teaching requirement, followed by an oral qualifying examination for advancement to candidacy is required. A dissertation and successful oral defense of dissertation are required. There is no language requirement. Six quarters residency are required.

Other degrees:
A Ph.D. in Physics (Biophysics) is also available. This option has the same requirements as the regular Ph.D., except that five courses related to the life sciences are required.

A Ph.D. with a specialization in computational science (CSME) is designed to allow students to obtain training in their chosen field of science, mathematics, or engineering, with additional training in computational science integrated into their graduate studies. Prospective students must apply and be admitted into the Ph.D. program in physics, and then be admitted into the CSME program.
GRE Requirements: Required
Physics GRE Requirements: Required
TOEFL Requirements: Required

Description of your department culture

The wide range of research interests represented in the department is reflected in its association with a number of campus research institutes and centers: the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science (CASS), the Center for Magnetic Recording Research (CMRR), the Institute for Nonlinear Science (INLS), and the Institute for Pure and Applied Physical Sciences (IPAPS), among others. Interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in other natural science and engineering departments, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the School of Medicine, are common. Weekly colloquia and seminars promote social interaction while introducing participants to a wide range of forefront research.

Departmental facilities include excellent electronics and machine shops, a liquid He facility, and extensive computing facilities. Additional computing support is available from the campus-based San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC). The campus libraries maintain a superb collection of books and journals in physics and related fields.