The Department of Physics and Astronomy has an internationally recognized faculty and a strong graduate program leading to both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Undergraduate degree tracks include Bachelor of Arts degrees in Astronomy and Physics, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Astronomy, Physics, and Engineering Physics. The department has a long tradition of excellence in teaching and research.

The University of Kansas is a major public research and teaching institution that operates through a diverse, multi-campus system. KU's many parts are bound together by a mission to serve as a "center for learning, research, scholarship and creative endeavor" in the state of Kansas, the nation and the world. An ideal campus, historic and wireless at the same time, KU is home to one of the top public-university library systems in the nation. The university fosters a multicultural environment in which the dignity and rights of individuals are respected.

A city of approximately 90,000, Lawrence is located in the rolling hills of eastern Kansas, 35 miles west of the Kansas City metropolitan area and 20 miles east of Topeka, the state capital. Home to Haskell Indian Nations University as well as KU, Lawrence offers the many cultural opportunities of a university town. Lawrence is a wonderful community filled with endless opportunities for historical explorations, beautiful scenery, incredible arts and entertainment venues, and many popular restaurants. Kansas City International airport and access to world-renowned attractions are less than an hour away.


Students, faculty, and alumni share their experiences related to our graduate program.

Program Requirements

Thirty hours of advanced courses and at least two hours of Master's research with satisfactory progress; no foreign language requirement; better than a B average required and a general examination in physics required. Thirty hours of resident study is required, but up to six of these may be transferred from another accredited university.

Thirty-three hours of advanced lecture courses; course work should average better than a B; students with a cumulative average grade less than B will be placed on probation; three full academic years of residency are required, two semesters normally consecutive and excluding summer session subsequent to the first year of graduate study must be spent at the University of Kansas; no foreign language requirement; demonstrated skill in computer programming related to the student's field of study is required; undergraduate certification by the graduate committee and a comprehensive exam are required; a dissertation showing the results of original research is required.
GRE Requirements: Not Required
Physics GRE Requirements: Not Required
TOEFL Requirements: Required

Description of your department culture

We are a collaborative department, offering opportunities for graduate students to work within and among many areas of physics. In order to maintain the collaborative feel, the department hosts an annual kick-off picnic for graduate and undergraduate students, department faculty, staff, and their families at the beginning of each fall semester. During the spring term, we host prospective graduate students via group visits in March and celebrate Graduate Student Appreciation Week with the rest of KU in April. Finally, we close the year with the departmental banquet, which celebrates the achievements of all members of the department during the previous academic year.

Our department has a strong and active chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS). SPS provides creative outlets for social interaction and outreach, as well as opportunities to further learning. Our SPS chapter was awarded the opportunity to host the Zone 12 Meeting in Spring 2020, but the meeting has been postponed to sometime in Academic Year 2020-21 due to COVID-19.

Our department also assigns peer mentors to every incoming graduate student so that they can form connections among the student body and learn better, from a student's perspective, what it's like to live in Lawrence and how to thrive in our community.

Our department often hosts large events for the community, with assistance from graduate students. For example, our department hosted an APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) in January, 2018. Several of our graduate students played key roles in the CUWiP planning, with several serving as panelists during the conference. More recently, we hosted the NASA Eyes, Kansas Minds Conference (celebrating NASA's 60 years) in Fall 2019. Finally, our department has been the home of the Particle Physics on the Plains Workshop for the past four years. Our graduate students both presented at these events and ran much of the behind-the-scenes activities.

Many of our students gather outside of the lab and classroom to participate in recreational activities including soccer, kickball, board and video games, and barbecues.