Ph.D. in Physics

Physics (Ph.D.)

Grad student teaching a class in front of a blackboard

Why pursue a Ph.D. in physics at UNH?

Expand your career opportunities within academia, industry or research through our physics Ph.D. program. You’ll work through a core curriculum exploring the fundamental areas of physics while also engaging with electives in your area of interest. You’ll apply advanced methodologies while conducting original research. If you are interested in teaching physics, you’ll also have the opportunity to pursue a cognate in college teaching. As a doctoral student in our program, you’ll have the opportunity to receive support through teaching assistantships, research assistantships or fellowships.

Program Highlights

The Department of Physics offers excellent research opportunities for graduate students. UNH physicists are engaged in world-class research in applied optics, condensed matter, nuclear and particle physics, education, and high energy theory and cosmology. The Space Science Center fosters research and education in all the space sciences, ranging from the ionosphere to the Earth's magnetosphere, the local solar system, and out to the farthest reaches of the universe. In addition, UNH has just reached the top tier of research universities, Carnegie Classification R1, and our research portfolio brings in more than $110 million in competitive external funding each year.

Potential career areas

  • Academia
  • Education
  • Government research
  • Patent law
  • Private industry research/development
  • Renewable energy
  • Science communication


Department of Physics
DeMeritt Hall 237A
9 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-2669

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Curriculum & Requirements

The Physics Ph.D. program prepares students for a career in industry, education, research or academia. Students will progress from studying a core curriculum encompassing fundamental areas of physics to taking elective classes in their area of interest. They will then conduct original research in a particular research area, leading to their PhD dissertation and defense.

For more details, please consult the physics graduate student handbook.


Please visit the Graduate School website for detailed instructions about applying to the program.

Cognate in College Teaching

The Cognate in College Teaching is essentially a minor in college level teaching; this minor is given in association with a PhD degree only (not with a Master's); it is not a stand-alone degree. The purpose of the Cognate is to prepare future faculty for their role as teachers.  For more information please see the College Teaching program page in this catalog.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

PHYS 805Experimental Physics (or equivalent demonstrated experimental proficiency)4
PHYS 931Mathematical Physics3
PHYS 935Statistical Physics3
PHYS 939Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 941
PHYS 942
Electromagnetic Theory I
and Electromagnetic Theory II
PHYS 943
PHYS 944
Quantum Mechanics I
and Quantum Mechanics II
PHYS 806Introduction to Physics Research and Teaching (two semesters, taken during the first year in the program)1
Select four additional 3+ credit elective courses, of which 2 may be at the 800 level 112
Total Credits38

For Space Science students, these courses must include Plasma Physics (PHYS 951), Magnetohydrodyamics of the Heliosphere (PHYS 953), and one of Magnetospheres (PHYS 987), Heliospheric Physics (PHYS 954).

Students are required to

  • demonstrate proficiency in teaching,
  • pass the written comprehensive exam, and
  • pass an oral qualifying exam on a thesis proposal.

Degree candidates are required to

  • register for a minimum of two semesters of PHYS 999 Doctoral Research,
  • pass the oral dissertation defense, and
  • successfully submit the final dissertation to the Graduate School.
  • Students will master the theoretical concepts in advanced mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics at the graduate level.
  • Students will have an advanced understanding of the mathematical methods, both analytical and computational, required to solve complex physics problems at the graduate level.
  • Students will be proficient in experimental physics.
  • Students will develop and demonstrate proficiency in teaching at the undergraduate level.
  • Students will have a specialized knowledge of their chosen field of advanced research in physics.
  • Students will be able to present advanced scientific ideas effectively in both written and oral form.
  • Students will be well prepared for postgraduate study in physics and related disciplines, as well as advanced careers in a multitude of fields ranging from scientific and technical to financial.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15 (for funding); after that on rolling basis until April 15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: Spring admission by approval only

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: VT

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your official transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

GRE Optional

The GRE scores are optional, if you wish to provide scores please email the scores directly to the department once you have submitted your application online.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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