University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy
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The Ph.D. Degree

If you want to excel in independent research then the Ph.D. is the degree for you! While you are getting your Ph.D. you will go from learning in a classroom to developing your own research. You will participate in leading edge physics research, have the opportunity to attend and present your work at conferences, and write papers for peer reviewed journals. It's time to move from answering questions right to asking the right questions.

You do not have to pay to study in our program. Virtually all of our students are supported as research and teaching assistants or with fellowships. Teaching assistants teach undergraduate students by leading discussion sections, and running laboratory sections. Research assistants in physics spend their time doing his/her PhD research, which will also fulfill your adviser research objectives. Since most research is done collaboratively, doing research includes doing some work for the benefits of the collaboration.

Much of your time as a physics graduate student will be spent doing research under the supervision of your faculty advisor who will help you set the large goals for your dissertation. They will help you ask the smaller questions, finding answers to accomplish larger goals. They will evaluate you to make sure you are on the right path to your goals. But one of your major goals is to become more and more independent from your adviser as time passes.

Students typically spend five to six years of full-time study beyond the B.S. or B.A. in physics. In addition to your independent research, you will take classes that provide a solid background to understanding goals and tools of their future research.