The Washington University Department of Physics balances a rigorous academic environment with myriad opportunities for research, learning, and debate, alongside supportive resources that give each of our students the tools they need to thrive.

Our faculty are world leaders in their fields of research. We have active groups working in astrophysics, extraterrestrial materials, condensed matter physics, quantum information and quantum materials, particle and nuclear physics, and biophysics. Our research centers encourage collaborative research efforts among scientists working on problems and projects that span traditional departmental lines.

The McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences conducts research ranging from the search for water on Mars, exploration of outer planets, to the study of energetic X-ray and gamma-rays emanating from quasars and supermassive black holes, gravitational waves and of dark matter in the Universe.

The Center for Quantum Sensors brings together scientists working on the development and engineering of quantum technologies and materials, and scientists using quantum technologies for cutting-edge research in physics and related disciplines.

The Institute of Materials Science and Engineering is a central hub for the materials research at Washington University, maintaining a world-class sample preparation and characterization equipment center.

Program Requirements

Thank you for your interest in graduate studies in Physics at Washington University!

The Department of Physics offers both Masters and PhD programs in Physics. The Masters program takes two years to complete and the PhD program typically takes between five and six years to complete. Students are admitted into our graduate program in the Fall semester beginning near the end of August. The application deadline is December 15.

Admission Requirements:

For admission to our Masters or PhD program, a Bachelors degree is required. Letters of recommendation, academic transcript(s), and a statement of purpose are required. Due to the pandemic, the GRE is optional.

TOEFL Requirements:
Students applying to either program from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English via the TOEFL or IELTS. The minimum acceptable score is 577 (equivalently 233 or 90) and the minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.
GRE Requirements: Recommended
Physics GRE Requirements: Recommended
TOEFL Requirements: Required

Description of your department culture

Our department has a long tradition of peer mentoring for our graduate students to help our new students transition into graduate school and provide support throughout their first few years. At the beginning of each fall semester, the mentors host orientation meetings and welcome events for the new graduate students. The Graduate Student Seminar Series is held every Friday afternoon and the students also have frequent social gatherings in the area. Many graduate students also volunteer to bring science to the public through Physics Family Fun Days and Astronomy Nights. The Department has a fall and spring picnic, weekly colloquiums and barbecues. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Washington University in St. Louis is located in a region with historical charm, global presence and competitive spirit. This area offers urban amenities and a high quality of life that is still affordable. Forest Park, at just under 1,400 acres, is located on the east end of campus. The park is ringed with jogging and biking trails, has a world class zoo, and three museums; all admission is free. St. Louis is the home of Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey, the Arch, and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Delmar Loop is a short walk from Washington University and offers live music venues, galleries, specialty shops, clothing boutiques, and over 50 multicultural restaurants.