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The Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is among the largest physics departments in the country. Our student body is diverse with most undergraduates coming from the State of Texas (~400 majors), while the majority of our graduate enrollment (~200 students) is comprised of out-of-state and international students. A large fraction of the teaching load of the Department of Physics is in service courses for non-majors in engineering and medicine. Research interests of the faculty span all areas of modern physics and some of these groups are among the best in the world.

The City of Austin is a growing, progressive urban center (with a population of approximately 1 million), which is home to the following institutions of higher education: Concordia, Huston-Tillotson, and St. Edwards University and Austin Community College. The area provides a full range of options for housing, entertainment, and transportation with a full spectrum of research options.

The Department of Physics accept students for pursuit of a Ph.D. degree on a competitive basis. Applications for a position for the spring & fall semester are due by October 1st & December 1st of the preceding year respectively. Though we do accept Spring applications for Ph.D. candidates we rarely admit due to funding reasons, therefore, it is strongly recommended Ph.D. candidates apply for fall admission. A fraction of students who enter our programs seeking a Ph.D. choose, usually for personal reasons, to end their studies with a Masters of Arts (M.A.).  For students who enter seeking a Ph.D., UT Austin considers you to be a Master’s student until you qualify for Ph.D. Candidacy. Students seeking a terminal Master’s degree in Physics are not supported financially by the department.

Candidacy demarks a threshold in your academic program. Prior to qualifying, you generally take courses, select a subfield of specialization, and begin research with a supervisor in preparation for qualifying. Our qualification process requires a B+ average in four core courses (which are graded on a B+ curve), the presentation of a seminar on proposed research for your dissertation, and an oral exam. The oral exam tests your knowledge of the core courses and your area of research. Students having previously taken one of our core courses, can take the final exam for two courses in lieu of registering.

We do not have a written qualifying exam. Post-qualification, you will work on your dissertation, take a few highly specialized courses in your field of interest (e.g., plasma, condensed matter, cosmology, etc.), and selected courses outside of your field and department.