Graduate study in the Department of Physics is strongly focused on research. Only the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is offered. The Physics Department maintains an active research program with equal emphasis on theoretical and experimental studies. Besides its traditional strengths in theoretical and experimental elementary particle physics, theoretical and experimental gravity and cosmology, experimental nuclear and atomic physics, mathematical physics, and theoretical condensed matter physics, it has newer strong and growing groups in experimental condensed matter physics and biophysics.
Students are encouraged to involve themselves in research activities right from the beginning. Early research participation leads to a more mature appreciation of the formal aspects of graduate study. It also allows a closer association with faculty members and a more natural transition to independent research later on. The research for the doctoral dissertation is by far the most important part of the program and should prepare students well for careers in research and teaching at universities, or in research at government or industrial laboratories. The average time to completion of the PhD is 5.4 years.
Interdepartmental Research Opportunities
In addition to the main program of the department leading to the Ph.D. in physics, there are several interdepartmental programs. An advanced degree in mathematical physics may be obtained through a program of work in the departments of physics and mathematics.
Physics department faculty and graduate students are active in research collaborations with scientists in several other departments, including astrophysical sciences, plasma physics, chemical & electrical engineering, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, and quantitative and computational biology, as well as the Institute for Advanced Study and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. If prior approval is obtained, students may conduct their research under the supervision of advisers from outside the physics department.
University housing is available for graduate students, with first-year students getting priority. It is common for students to live in University housing for a year or more before moving into privately-owned apartments in town.
Princeton is a very pleasant place to live. The center of town, across Nassau Street from the campus, contains a growing number of restaurants, ice cream parlors, coffee houses, and pubs, all within easy walking distance. The University and town also provide an impressive schedule of concerts and dance performances, an award-winning theater company, and lectures of a wide variety. New York City and Philadelphia are each only an hour away; a connecting train stops a short walk from the physics building.
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