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An Introduction to our Graduate Program

A graduate physics education should stimulate intellectual excitement and instill the knowledge, skills, confidence, independence, and versatility needed for a successful career in either the sciences or other quantitative or technical fields. Essential to this goal is a talented, enthusiastic, and imaginative faculty committed to the professional development of graduate students. We have such a faculty here at Penn State.

Please peruse the entire Penn State Physics website to gain a glimpse of the intellectual and physical environment in which you could be pursuing your studies. If you are interested, we cordially invite you to visit with us at University Park Campus. Please contact for further information.


Doctoral Degree Objectives:

  •  Graduates shall demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding in physics core knowledge (statistical mechanics, theoretical mechanics, classical electrodynamics, and quantum physics) and experimental, observational, and theoretical methodologies, that underpin the practice of modern physics.
  • Graduates shall demonstrate, at a level appropriate to a departmental colloquium, (i) knowledge of several outstanding problems or questions in diverse sub-fields of physics, (ii) the experimental, observational, or theoretical origins of these problems, and (iii) the principal efforts proposed or underway to address them.
  • Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to communicate professionally, in written and oral form, research work and conclusions to physics sub-field expert and non-expert audiences.
  • Graduates shall demonstrate (i) knowledge and understanding of professional standards of ethics and conduct, (ii) the ability to analyze situations to identify the standards that should apply and (iii) describe how they may be appropriately acted upon.
  • Graduates shall have a specialty area within the broad domain of physics, within which they shall demonstrate (i) advanced knowledge and understanding of the primary literature, (ii) the ability to analyze and judge new contributions to the primary literature, (iii) the ability to pose complex research problem(s) and identify the knowledge and methodologies required to address them, and (iv) the ability to apply that knowledge and those methodologies to create new knowledge and/or develop new experimental techniques that advance (or show the potential to advance) knowledge and understanding within the specialty area.