The Physics Department has an outstanding Ph.D. program for students seeking the highest degree available in an academic discipline. This rigorous program requires students to take classes for 3 or 4 semesters, followed by 3 or 4 years of research in a forefront area of physics. During their Ph.D. research, students work closely with a faculty sponsor and commonly with many other graduate student and postdoctoral researchers. During their research time, Ph.D. students transition from attaining knowledge about their chosen field of physics to producing new knowledge about the physics of our universe.
The Physics Department only admits students seeking a Ph.D. in Physics. As part of the progress towards this degree, students will earn a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy degree in Physics. For students only seeking a Masters degree in Physics, the only program offered at Columbia is a Masters in the Philosophical Foundations of Physics, offered jointly with the Philosophy Department.
The Physics Department admits 15 to 20 students annually and, since most students take 5 or 6 years to get their Ph.D., there are on average about 100 Ph.D students in the Physics Department. Students are generally supported as Teaching Assistants for the first two years of their Ph.D. program and are subsequently supported on the grants of their research sponsor. Students who are awarded outside fellowships may only teach for a single year.