Apply to the program. If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Coordinator at

Prerequisites for Graduate Study

Please see KU's graduate admission requirements.

A baccalaureate degree with a major in physics is desirable but not required. A student with less than the recommended preparation may enroll in these courses for graduate credit if the course is at the 500 level or higher.

Normal preparation for graduate study in physics should include:

  • Mechanics (at the level of the textbooks by Marion and Thornton)
  • Electrodynamics (level of D. J. Griffiths)
  • Quantum Mechanics (level of Liboff)
  • Laboratory (level of Melissinos or Brophy)
  • At least two courses in mathematics beyond elementary calculus

Somewhat different preparation is needed for the MS program in Computational Physics/Astronomy. Also, entering graduate students should have a working knowledge of computers and computer programming, preferably including fluency in either the FORTRAN or C++ programming language.

Physics GRE

The exam is not required for admission, however, a Ph.D. student who sends in an original copy of a Physics GRE score of 650 or higher before enrollment will be excused from the Department's diagnostic exam but still may be subject to  the undergraduate certification process.

Diagnostic Exam

All new graduate students who have not provided documentation of a Physics GRE score of 650 or higher will be given a three-hour diagnostic exam during orientation. The exam will consist of selected problems in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, wave phenomena, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics. Problems will be selected from previous GRE exams. Exam results will be used for advising purposes only, and will not remain on the student's permanent record.

Although most students earn a Master's degree while pursuing their doctoral work, the Master's degree is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D.

Departmental Employment

Most graduate students in physics hold a position as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) or a graduate research assistant (GRA). These assistantships normally require halftime duties (20 hours per week), but students holding them can be classified as full-time students if the duties are in their field of study. GTA support is given preferentially to students in the Ph.D. program.

International students seeking GTA status in the department must meet the English Proficiency Requirements set forth by the University


Fees change from year to year. See the current Tuition and Fee Estimator for the most recent information.

Persons employed on a monthly, by semester, or yearly basis by the University for at least 40% time but less than full time may pay fees at the staff rate when properly certified to the Office of the Registrar by the Department. Persons eligible for staff rates during the regular academic year are also normally eligible for such rates during the summer session.

Graduate teaching assistants are eligible for a pro rated reduction in their tuition and incidental fees during the semesters they hold an instructional appointment. For GTA appointments of 40% of more, full tuition is waived.