About the Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program is designed to train students for careers in academia or the private sector. Students typically spend the first few semesters taking courses that ensure that they have excellent knowledge of the foundational material (classical and quantum mechanics, statistical physics and electrodynamics), but the primary focus is on original research supervised by faculty members. The research opportunities available in the department are very broad, including experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, nanoscience, low temperature physics, nuclear physics, experimental and theoretical high energy physics, biophysics, gravitational physics and a variety of collaborative research programs with several departments on campus, including Polymer Science. A complete overview of our department, including graduate courses, seminars, research programs, faculty listings, general information about the campus, enrollment requirements, financial aid, and details about how to apply for graduate school can all be found on our web pages at prospective students. You will find under the research area there are links to the individual research groups' website. More details about the process of applying to our graduate school can be found at http://www.umass.edu/gradschool Our information is also included in our American Institute of Physics and Astronomy listing at http://www.gradschoolshopper.com.

The anticipated value of the total compensation package for a first year non-resident doctoral student is in excess of $50,000. This includes the first year stipend for a teaching assistantship of $20,862 (9-month salary), waivers of tuition, curriculum and other fees, and health benefits.

Our research groups provide many opportunities for summer Research Assistantships (RA's). The department also has some summer Teaching Assistant (TA) positions for the few students who need them. A summer RA pays up to $7,686 and a summer TA pays between $1,300 and $3,000 depending on the number of students enrolled in the lab. In recent years, many first year students have been able to find a summer TA or RA. If you negotiate RA support for the entire summer with a research group, you can receive up to $28,584 a year.

All doctoral applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and the Physics Subject Test. In addition, foreign applicants must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). All application materials, including three letters of recommendation, are due by January 15th, however the Physics Admissions Committee will begin reviewing applications in mid-December. Since all departments on campus have the same deadline, we recommend submitting application materials to the Graduate School early. An application fee of $75 is required before an application may be processed. We realize that this fee may present a difficulty for some applicants, but unfortunately we are unable to waive it.

Amherst is a typical New England college town, with bookstores, coffee shops and a wide range of cultural activities. The surrounding Pioneer Valley is quite rural, with wooded hills, rivers and lakes, and an abundance of hiking, biking and ski trails. As rural as we are, we are within a few hours of major metropolitan areas of Boston and New York and all that they have to offer. A free bus system connects the University with the town and with the four first-rate undergraduate liberal arts colleges in the local area. The programs of these colleges enrich the many cultural offerings available.

We welcome any inquiries about our program or about life at UMass. Should you require additional information, please feel free to contact the Graduate Program Director, Carlo Dallapiccola, at carlod@physics.umass.edu.


Boris Svistunov
Physics Graduate Admissions Chair