Graduate Program

The Physics Department offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science (M.S.) and/or the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Each student has a faculty adviser who helps to determine which courses are most appropriate, taking into account the student’s background and interests. The student-faculty ratio is low so that M.S. and Ph.D. students can work closely with faculty and pursue programs that fit their individual needs. Research is currently conducted in theoretical and experimental particle physics, theoretical and experimental condensed matter physics (including materials physics and biophysics), and in theoretical and experimental/observational high-energy astrophysics (including cosmology).

Students may obtain a master’s degree through coursework (eight physics graduate courses) and submission of an approved thesis. The thesis requirement may be waived by passing four sections of the written Ph.D. qualifying examination. Master’s candidates are encouraged to write a research thesis and may do so in any of the research fields in the program, thereby developing laboratory and computational skills in areas such as electronics design, computer simulation and visualization, cryogenics, X-ray scattering, complex novel materials and devices, or materials science. Each M.S. student is assigned a faculty adviser who helps to design a coursework plan suited to the interests of the student.

Physics students and faculty use a number of UCSC research facilities described at the beginning of this section and elsewhere in this catalog, including facilities of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and the UC Observatories (headquartered at UCSC). There is strong interaction with other disciplines, especially astronomy and astrophysics, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, electrical engineering, and mathematics. Proximity to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory provides additional local research opportunities. UCSC faculty and graduate students also participate in research programs at CERN in Geneva, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA Ames, NREL, Lucent, Xerox, IBM, Bell Labs, and other national and international laboratories.

Application materials and brochures describing the physics M.S. and Ph.D. graduate programs in more detail may be obtained by visiting the Physics Department website or by contacting the Division of Graduate Studies.