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Graduate Program

The graduate program in Physics at Utah State University engages approximately 30 graduate students in our research and teaching mission as they pursue MS or PhD degrees.  The average time to PhD in Physics at USU is 5-6 years. 

Graduate student research in our department spans a wide variety of disciplines within physics, including mathematical physics, gravitation and field theory, atmospheric and space physics, surface and materials physics, and ultra-fast laser spectroscopy.


MS degree recipients in physics are generally employed by industrial or government laboratories as either physicists or engineers. Some are hired as teachers by high schools and by two-year colleges. Holders of the PhD in physics will generally be hired as research and development physicists by industrial or government laboratories and as professors in universities (though this may require additional postdoctoral research experience). All of our recent graduates have found employment commensurate with their career goals and abilities.


PhD students enter the program on a probationary basis and begin by taking a prescribed 2 year course sequence. During the second year the faculty evaluate the student's performance and decide whether the student "qualifies" for continuation in the program. After qualification a research advisory committee is formed. After qualification and completion of coursework, in the third year, a research-based candidacy examination (designed in collaboration with the committee) determines whether the student is ready to pursue dissertation research. The research topic is set and the student works with his/her mentor and committee until completion of the research, writing of the dissertation, and its defense.

All of our PhD students are supported with graduate school tuition waivers, graduate student health insurance, and a monthly stipend for work performed as Teaching Assistants in our instructional activities or Research Assistants in our research groups.

Applying to Graduate School in Physics at USU

Consideration of applications begins January 15 and continues until openings are filled.  Acceptance notifications are generally made in early spring.  Applicants for the graduate program must submit results from the General GRE. Applicants are also encouraged to submit results from the Physics Subject GRE.

Apply for Graduate Studies in Physics

USU-Physics, Current Graduate Students

Recent Theses and Dissertations

Department Handbooks:
MS-Physics Handbook
PhD-Physics Handbook
A Guide to the Physics Candidacy Exam

University Documents:

USU Catalog -- Physics
USU School of Graduate Studies


Application for Qualification (DOC)
Intent for Candidacy Exam (PDF)
Forms for the School of Graduate Studies
LaTeX files for theses and dissertations (Thanks to Jeff Hazboun)