Physics PhD

Your life as a professional physicist begins with the PhD degree.  As a professional physicist, you will advance the frontiers of physics by generating new knowledge in your subfield while working on the most challenging scientific problems at the forefront of human understanding. The Physics PhD program prepares students for professional research careers in government, industrial or academic institutions, and for teaching at the university or college levels. 

Students have the opportunity to choose a faculty research mentor from our 40 core physics faculty or from the group of 40 affiliate faculty in departments and centers across campus. The Department of Physics offers the opportunity to work with world-renowned physicist in nanoscience, biophysics, cosmology, particle physics, complex systems and emergent phenomena.

In the Department of Physics, we strive to admit only doctoral candidates who we fully expect to excel in all aspects of graduate work, including academics, qualifying and comprehensive exams, research, and personal satisfaction and enrichment.


Cohort size 20
95.5% employment rate
5 year completion

Degree Overview

Our doctoral program reflects the modern and interdisciplinary nature of physics. The 84- hour program is flexible and allows students to choose coursework that aligns with the groundbreaking research in nanoscience, biophysics, cosmology, particle physics, complex systems and emergent phenomena

Fields of Study

Graduate faculty participating in our program come from units spanning several science and engineering disciplines who pursue experimental and theoretical inquiry in the major research emphases of our department.

  • Biological and Soft Matter Physics,
  • Cosmology, Particle and Astrophysics,
  • Nanoscience and Materials Physics.


How to apply

Applications are accepted for the fall semester only.

The application deadline for full consideration for the Fall semester is January 31. Files completed after this date will be considered, but students should recognize that most of the financial resources will be committed by early spring.

More details on how to apply.

Our research on protein structures was recognized in Science's Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2012

Of all of the schools I had to choose from, I felt that ASU offered me the most opportunities to pursue learning beyond the classroom.

Stephanie Cope, PhD Alumni


84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation


Requirements and electives


Core Courses


Electives or Research


Culminating Experience


Total hours required



Courses and electives


The Physics PhD will provide a thorough course of instruction and research training in preparation for a career pursuing independent research in academia, national labs or in an industrial setting. The typical time to completion of the Physics Ph.D. is about five years. The program is compromised of 84 credit hours.  The goal of the graduate faculty is to facilitate the transition from coursework into cutting-edge research as quickly as possible.  This transition is catalyzed by the requirement that all first-year students perform two research rotations, which are semester-long internships in different research groups.


Coursework (18 credit hours)
PHY 500 Research Rotation I (3)
PHY 500 Research Rotation II (3)
PHY 521 Classical and Continuum Mechanics (3)
PHY 531 Electrodynamics (3)
PHY 541 Statistical Physics (3)
PHY 576 Quantum Theory (3)

54 credits of electives or research

Courses beyond the core courses is established by the student's doctoral advisor and supervisory committee, working in partnership with the student. The intent is to tailor the doctoral training to the specific research interests and aptitudes of the student while ensuring that each graduating student emerges with the expertise, core knowledge and problem-solving skills that define a successful doctoral degree in physics.


PHY 799 Dissertation- 12 Credit Hours 

Female Students
Tenure Track Faculty
APS Fellows


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