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PhD in Physics: Degree Program Information

A Doctor of Philosophy in Physics requires students to complete core courses in physics and choose an area in which to focus their studies and research. Career opportunities are varied and are not limited to teaching jobs.

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Essential Information

A Ph.D. program in physics allows students to further their studies in the general field of physics while also putting emphasis on one or two specific fields of interest. A bachelor's degree is required for admission; however, some students enter with a master's degree and are allowed to transfer certain classes to avoid duplication. Students will also need to provide letters of recommendation, GRE scores and, in some cases, GRE subject test scores in physics.

These degrees generally take 5-6 years to complete and require students to pass a comprehensive exam and defend a dissertation in order to graduate.


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  • Acoustics
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Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

Typically, a physics Ph.D. program includes five or six core courses, and research and courses towards the dissertation begin the second year. Some programs allow students to earn their Master of Science in Physics concurrently. Program courses vary but could include:

  • Kinetics
  • Solid-state physics
  • Chemical thermodynamics
  • Advanced thermodynamics
  • Nanophysics
  • Applied physics

Popular Career Options

Numerous career opportunities exist for graduates other than teaching at a major university. Some graduates are pursued by businesses because of their ability to problem solve and think analytically. Some possible careers include:

  • University professor
  • Astrophysicist
  • Business consultant
  • Chemical physicist

With a Ph.D. in Physics, graduates have many career opportunities due to their high level of specialist knowledge and analytical skills. Over the course of the program, students have the opportunity to earn a master's degree at the same time.

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