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Graduate Program Overview

Degrees offered: Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Graduate students in physics at the University of Oregon pursue a Ph.D. in close collaboration with research faculty leading investigations in a wide range of experimental and theoretical research areas such as:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Biophysics
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Gravitational wave detection
  • Ion trapping
  • High energy physics
  • Data science
  • Optics
  • Quantum information science
  • Solid-state physics
Image from Ursell lab: computational image analysis of a growing bacterial colony

State-of-the-art laboratories are found in Willamette Hall, home of the Physics Department. In addition, Physics graduate students routinely work at various external research facilities, such as:

electron microscopy in CAMCOR

performing research at CERN

The UO Physics department is conveniently located next door to the newly renovated Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library where our students have access to a variety of resources including 3D printers, laser cutters, and a high definition visualization lab.

PSC Visualization Lab

Our graduate program provides students with a unique, interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching, and learning. Most University of Oregon physics faculty members belong to one or more interdisciplinary research institutes and/or centers:

  • Oregon Center for Optical, Molecular & Quantum Science (OMQ) promotes and facilitates research and education in the optical sciences at the University of Oregon, wherever optical science is involved in either its fundamental aspects or its technological applications.
  • Materials Science Institute (MSI) focuses much of its efforts on the creation and study of new materials and devices, but also addresses more fundamental questions in experimental and theoretical physics.
  • Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) brings together biologists, chemists, and physicists to explore the principles that define life and govern the activities of molecules, cells, and organisms.
  • Institute for Fundamental Science (IFS) this newly formed center incorporates the former Institute of Theoretical Science (ITS) and the former Center for High Energy Physics (CHEP). More information to come.

How is the Ph.D. program structured?

As a graduate student entering with a Bachelor’s degree, you have approximately two years of graduate coursework to complete. Graduate core courses are taken during the first year in the program, and breadth requirements can be taken at any times thereafter, with students typically completing most coursework during their second year. During your first year of study, you will explore possible research fields of interest through conversations with faculty members and their research group members and by attending seminars and research group meetings. You will identify a research advisor and begin working in a research group by your first summer in the program. A comprehensive exam that assesses readiness for research work in the chosen area of specialization must be passed by the end of the Fall term in year four. Various advisory committees, composed of multiple faculty, help support students and ensure that progress is being made towards their degree. The Ph.D. program culminates in a written dissertation and an oral defense of the thesis.

How is the M.S. program structured?

As a graduate student entering with a Bachelor’s degree, you will take 1-2 years to complete a total of 45 graduate credits of which 32 credits must in physics. These credits must be taken for a grade and passed with a B- or better. The remaining credits may be earned in related fields such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, geology, or other courses approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. At least 3 term-length courses in mathematics are also required. A master’s thesis is optional.


Admissions Requirements

  • TOEFL or IELTS (for international applicants only) TOEFL minimum score: 88, IELTS minimum score: 7.0
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial Transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose

Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Support

We offer teaching assistantships to first and second year students admitted to our Ph.D. program. Beyond the second year, students are usually supported by research assistantships provided by their research advisor. All assistantships include a monthly salary of approximately $2,000/ month, and a tuition waiver up to 16 credits per term, approximately 95% of the student health insurance premium is paid by the UO. The remaining 5% premium costs just $74.46 per term (for GE only during AY 2019-20, click here to see all rates). Master’s students are not guaranteed financial support from the Physics Department.

2019-20 Graduate Cost of Attendance



The university is located in Eugene, a city that offers many cultural, entertainment, and recreational opportunities, including an award-winning performing arts center , yet retains a friendly, small-town atmosphere. Skiing, hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing , white-water boating, and fishing are available in the Cascade Mountains and the adjacent high desert 50 to 100 miles to the east, and the coast of the Pacific Ocean seventy miles to the west offers more opportunities for outdoor recreation and stunning views. Need equipment to explore? That’s easy with UO’s own Outdoor Program.

The City of Eugene is a vibrant, progressive community that embraces its connection to the University of Oregon. Eugene has frequently been recognized as a great place to live:

  • called Eugene one of its Top 10 college towns
  • National Geographic’s “Green Guide” named Eugene the number one green city in the U.S. for air quality, recycling, transportation, and green space
  • Bicycling magazine called Eugene one of the ten most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation
  • Rolling Stone included Eugene in its list of “America’s Top 10 Campus Music Scenes That Rock”
  • Money magazine has ranked Eugene among the best six U.S. cities in which to live

The Ruth Bascom Riverbank bike path makes the campus easily accessible from many neighborhoods. Eugene sits at the crossroad of two major rivers, the Willamette and McKenzie, affording endless recreational opportunities. In the summer months it’s not uncommon to find groups of students floating or picnicking along the Willamette River that runs between the campus proper and the lush Alton Baker Park and Autzen stadium across its waters.

Click here to contact our Education Programs Manager