About the Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. Program and Application Hints


Our 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 of Massachusetts) doctoral student is in excess of $50,000. This includes the first year stipend for a teaching assistantship of $23,248 (9-month salary), waivers of tuition, 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. A summer RA pays up to an estimated $8,565 and a summer TA stipend pays between $1,300 and $3,000. 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 $31,813 for the first year.

Amherst is a typical New England college town with a wide range of cultural activities enriched by the 5-Colleges in the valley (Amherst College, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and UMass). 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.

All doctoral applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and the Physics Subject Test (the latter requirement is currently suspended due to unavailability during the pandemic). In addition, foreign applicants must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). An application fee of $80 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.

To ensure priority treatment and enhance the opportunities for being admitted with a fellowship or first year summer RA support, we recommend that you send us all your application materials, including three letters of recommendation, by December 15th.  Applications will continue to be accepted until January 15. It is important to express your interest in one or more of our research programs by including in your research statement a paragraph connecting your interests to research programs at UMass. We also encourage you to contact one or more faculty members to indicate your potential interest in joining their group(s).

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, Lori Goldner (lgoldner@physics.umass.edu).



Boris Svistunov 
Physics Graduate Admissions Chair