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The Physics Program
The mission of the Physics Department at William & Mary is the creation and dissemination of knowledge of the physical world through teaching, research, and public service. The Physics Department offers graduate study and research that leads to the Ph.D. degree.
Students applying with an undergraduate degree must satisfactorily complete the M.S. requirements before working towards the PhD. We do not admit students who are seeking a terminal Master’s degree, though one may be awarded if a student must leave the program after completing all requirements for the M.S.
Our research mission is to understand the fundamental origin and the mathematical description of physical phenomena. Currently, the Department of Physics conducts active research in the following areas:
- Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
- Condensed Matter Experiment
- Condensed Matter Theory
- Nuclear and Hadronic Experiment
- Nuclear and Hadronic Theory
- High Energy Experiment
- High Energy Theory
- Plasma and Nonlinear Physics
In addition, we have affiliated efforts in accelerator physics (in cooperation with Jefferson Lab) and materials characterization (in cooperation with NASA-Langley Research Center). The Physics Department maintains strong links with William & Mary’s Applied Science Department and students can work on projects there as well.
The graduate program in physics at William & Mary rests on three pillars: coursework, teaching, and research.
Coursework: All candidates for graduate degrees must successfully complete a program of core plus elective courses that is approved by the department.
Teaching: Teaching is an integral part of the educational process for those who seek an advanced degree. Degree candidates will be assigned teaching duties for at least two semesters.
Research: The Department carries out experimental and theoretical research in many subfields, and the results are communicated in refereed journals, in conferences and seminars, and in books. Graduate students learn to conduct original scientific research in physics.
Graduate students are also expected to participate in the Department’s public service efforts.
Students are admitted directly to the Ph.D. program. Students who have recently completed their undergraduate degree as well as students who have completed a Masters are considered for admission. The department will endeavor to provide financial support to Ph. D. students who are making satisfactory progress in their course work and research.
William & Mary uses an online application system. Application materials consist of GRE scores taken within the past five years including both the GRE General Test and the GRE subject test (Physics), transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Supplemental application questions are also required. If English is not your first language, your Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores are required and must be sent directly to William & Mary by the Educational Testing Service or IELTS.
Although exceptions are made, it is recommended that graduate students begin their course work in the fall semester. New students who will be supported during the academic year may receive research assistantships for the summer before they begin their formal course work if funds are available.
Programs and Course Descriptions
Description of Courses
Unless otherwise noted, all courses are graded using standard grading [A, B, C, D, F] scheme (See Grading and Academic Progress in the section entitled Graduate Regulations) and may not be repeated for credit (See Repeated Courses requirements in the section entitled Graduate Regulations).