Colorado University Physics

Universities / August 16, 2018

The graduate program in physics is one of the largest and strongest in the country. We offer leading research programs in essentially all areas of physics including atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter and materials physics, elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, biophysics, history and philosophy of physics and physics education research. Certain astrophysics fields, chemical physics and geophysics are offered in cooperation with other departments on campus.

A special aspect of our program is the opportunity for our students to perform their PhD research at one of the many world-class research institutes in the Boulder area including JILA, NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology), NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab), NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), and NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association), etc.

Degrees Offered


Degree Details

Requires 30 semester hours of coursework plus 30 doctoral thesis hours, 3.00 minimum GPA with no grades lower than B-, six semesters residence minimum, oral comprehensive exam, and dissertation requirements in accordance with the Graduate School (30 credit hours). There is no foreign language requirement. An MS is typically awarded to PhD students after comprehensive exams, but we do not offer a dedicated master's program except under special circumstances. Please see for more detailed information.

Admissions Requirements

Graduate School Minimum Admissions Standards - Individual graduate departments may have additional or more restrictive standards by which they evaluate graduate applicants. However, the Graduate School at CU Boulder has established minimum standards for graduate admission. Applicants must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, or have done work equivalent to that required for such a degree.
  • Show promise of ability to pursue advanced study and research, as judged by the student’s scholastic record.
  • Have adequate preparation to enter graduate study in the chosen field.
  • Have at least a 2.75 (2.00=C) undergraduate grade point average. Note: Applicants who cannot meet this undergraduate standard may still secure regular admission if they have completed nine semester hours of relevant graduate course work with at least a 3.25 average.

Physics Admissions Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  • Complete the general GRE and the GRE physics subject exam.
  • Non-English speaking applicants must complete the TOEFL exam. If you have completed one year of full-time academic study at a U.S. institution, this requirement can be waived.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation.

All applications must be submitted online.

Applicant Instructions

Recommendation letters and all supporting documents due* January 1, 2016.

*Please note: your recommenders will not receive a request for a letter until your application has been submitted.

Contact Information

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Physics
Graduate Program Assistant