Graduate Program in Physics

The Physics Department offers graduate programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The department boasts outstanding research programs in theoretical and experimental particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, condensed matter physics, and biophysics. 

Bridge near IBS Building

Graduate Student Timeline 

Students typically enter the program with a Bachelor's and pick up the M.S. along the way to obtaining their Ph.D. The program usually takes five years to complete. Entering students receive strong grounding in basic physics, as well as exposure to active research areas. After passing a set of written qualifying examination, students complete their coursework and then pursue independent research.  This research becomes the basis for Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy, at which point students then begin working on their dissertation. Upon successful completion and defense of the dissertation students are awarded the Ph.D. Throughout their graduate careers students work closely with faculty and pursue programs that fit their individual needs.    

Research Opportunities

The vast majority of our faculty and graduate students conduct research with the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and the Materials Science and Engineering Initiative (MSEI)

In addition physics students and faculty use a number of UCSC research facilities: the University of California Observatories (headquartered at UCSC), Institute of Marine Sciences, and the Institute of Tectonics. There is strong interaction with other disciplines, especially astronomy and astrophysics, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, electrical engineering, and mathematics. Proximity to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory provides additional local research opportunities. UCSC faculty and graduate students are actively working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (ATLAS experiment), on GLAST, and conducting research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA Ames, NREL, Lucent, Xerox, IBM, Bell Labs, and other national and international laboratories.


affiliated-labs Affiliated Research Facilities