Graduate Programs

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.

For Prospective Students

To apply to the Physics Ph.D. program at Columbia, see the GSAS "graduate bulletin" for more information, and follow the application instructions through the GSAS Admissions page. There you will find answers to some of the basic questions about the program and how to apply (including admission requirements).

Generally applications are reviewed in January and February.  Admission letters are sent out starting at the end of January and continuing until at least March 15. For those accepted students that are in the US at the time, they will receive invitations (travel and accommodations paid) to an Open House shortly after acceptance. For all those that have been admitted, your acceptance of our offer of admission is expected by April 15. Since we usually have more qualified candidates than positions, we generally have an informal wait list which is acted upon in the middle of April.

Some of the questions you may have are addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Once you have understood the basics, feel free to explore the other links on this page that will detail your teaching responsibilities, courses and seminars, as well as the ongoing research in the department. If you need more information, please contact the Physics office and they can put you in contact with appropriate faculty members or students (there is a group of students who have agreed to answer your questions - they can give you a student's view of what is going on in the department, we encourage you to talk to them).