University General Course Catalog 2022-2023 
    Jun 05, 2023  
University General Course Catalog 2022-2023

Physics, Ph.D.

The physics department offers graduate programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in physics.  Ph.D. degrees in chemical physics and atmospheric sciences are also offered (see the Interdisciplinary Programs section of this catalog).

Contact Information

Jonathan Weinstein, Graduate Program Director
Leifson Physics 211
(775) 784-6821

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

The program aims to prepare students for careers in scientific research or teaching.  Formal course work provides a broad treatment of fundamental physics as well as an introduction to specialized physics topics.  Original research, the central component of the Doctor of Philosophy program, is intended both to establish the student as a scientific researcher and to expand humanity’s knowledge of the physical universe.

Admission Requirements

Admissions are done through the graduate school.   Please consult regulations of the Graduate School for general admission requirements.  Admissions may be done online at  The deadline for completed applications is March 1st.  The deadline for Spring applications is November 1st; however, the department discourages applications for Spring under ordinary circumstances.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required.  Although it is not a requirement, applicants are encouraged to take the GRE Physics Subject Test.

I. Program Requirements

Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must satisfy all general requirements of the Graduate School.

Students ordinarily are expected to have earned the master of science degree before entering the Ph.D. program. Before being accepted as a candidate, the student must have completed at least 75 percent of the non-elective, non-dissertation coursework, and have passed a comprehensive examination on graduate level material in physics. The following courses or their equivalents must be satisfactorily completed for the doctoral degree in physics:

II. Total Credits (72 units)


Graduate students who hold half-time assistantships are not permitted to enroll for more than 10 units per semester.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

1. A bachelor’s degree in physics or related discipline.
2. Completion of undergraduate courses in classical mechanics; electricity and magnetism; thermal and statistical physics; and quantum mechanics.
3.  An average grade of 3.0 or better in all physics courses, and an overall average of 3.0 or better in all undergraduate courses.

Applicants whose records indicate a deficiency in any of the requirements listed above may be admitted on a probationary basis and may be required to take undergraduate courses (which do not carry graduate credit) to address their deficiencies.