In the beginning of every fall semester, the department organizes a series of events (graduate orientation, various seminars and presentations) to provide an in-depth overview of research activities in the department. During a two-day research jamboree, students discuss possible research projects with multiple faculty members either in individual meetings or in a group setting. These events help familiarize the student with the department, with the faculty and with the expectations of the graduate program.
To help guide students through the first two years of the program, all entering graduate students are assigned an academic adviser who works closely with them during their first year. This first-year adviser meets regularly with the student to determine courses of study, familiarize them with the department, and help them find research opportunities. The first-year adviser works with the student until a thesis adviser has been appointed. During the orientation, the first-year adviser reviews the undergraduate record with the student. If there are any gaps in the physics background, the first-year adviser may recommend additional coursework or independent reading.
To obtain admission, a student is expected to submit evidence that he or she has a good chance to succeed.
Application requirements for admission:
- A completed application
- Transcripts of all previous work
- Three letters of recommendation
- Recent GRE general and subject scores (physics or related field)
- TOEFL or IELTS for international students (a reproduction is acceptable. Johns Hopkins prefers a minimum score of 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based) or 100 (Internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).)
- Statement of purpose
- $75 application fee. The application fee may be waived for applicants with documented (must be uploaded within the application) registration/participation in one of the following programs: GEM, Department Request, SACNAS, MMUF, POSSE, JHU Grad Student, McNair, ABRCMS, Vietnam Education Foundation, IRT, Graduate Horizons, Chocktaw/Chickasaw Scholarship Advisement Program, Baltimore Scholars Program, Leadership Alliance, UMBC Meyerhoff Program, LSAMP, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Project 1000, MARC and University of Puerto Rico Students. To request a waiver based on financial hardship please select the option on the application and upload one of the following: FAFSA SAR Report, a letter from a college/university financial aid office, unemployment verification. Do not send tax returns. All documents will be reviewed and verified for satisfactory evidence. If the uploaded document is not accepted you will be contacted to resubmit or to pay the application fee.
Successful applicants applying in the last year of their Bachelor’s program will need to demonstrate the completion of their Bachelor’s degree program before they can begin the Ph. D. program at JHU.
The Ph.D. program has strong emphasis on early and active involvement in graduate research. Thus, students are required to have a research advisor and file a research summary every semester they are enrolled in the program, starting with the first one. Furthermore, students must complete the required courses with a grade of B- or better; the coursework is typically done over the first two years. In the beginning of the second year, students complete the research examination, and in the beginning of the third year – the University’s Graduate Board Oral examination, both of which are based on completed or proposed research. During the first two years, students are typically involved in introductory research projects, which may or may not be related to their thesis work, and sometimes work with several different advisors, but they must identify (and have an agreement with) a thesis advisor no later than the beginning of their third year in the program, after which point students focus on their thesis research. The thesis is to be completed by no later than the end of the 6th year, ending with an oral presentation of the thesis to a faculty committee.
Ph.D. in Physics
Students must complete the following courses:
and Quantum Mechanics
|AS.171.703||Advanced Statistical Mechanics|
Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Students must complete the following courses:
|AS.171.611||Stellar Structure and Evolution|
|AS.171.612||Interstellar Medium and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics|
|AS.172.633||Language Of Astrophysics|
The department offers a wide range of graduate physics, astrophysics, mathematical methods and statistics classes, and while only five are required, the students are encouraged to use the flexibility of the graduate program and the available classes to design programs of study that best prepare them for their chosen area of research. In addition to the required courses listed above, below is the list of the graduate courses that have been taught in recent years:
|AS.171.610||Numerical Methods for Physicists|
|Condensed Matter Physics|
and Condensed Matter Physics
|AS.171.625||Experimental Particle Physics|
|AS.171.639||Group Theory in Physics|
|AS.171.644||Exoplanets and Planet Formation|
|AS.171.648||Physics of Cell Biology: From Mechanics to Information|
|Quantum Field Theory|
and Quantum Field Theory II
|AS.171.704||Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena|
|AS.171.732||Elementary Particle Physics|
|AS.171.752||Black Hole Astrophysics|
|AS.171.755||Fourier Optics and Interferometry in Astronomy|
|AS.171.762||Advanced Condensed Matter|
|AS.171.783||Black Hole Physics|
|AS.171.785||Advanced Particle Theory: Dark Matter|
|AS.171.652||Exoplanets and their Atmospheres|
|AS.171.698||Physics Beyond the Standard Model|
|AS.171.749||Contemporary Machine Learning for Physicists|
|AS.171.782||Advanced Particle Theory: Quantum Gravity|
Students in both programs must receive at least a B- in each required course, or they will be required to retake the specific course once more and pass it.
First and Second-Year Research Requirement
First-year students must find, by the end of the third week of class in the fall semester, and by the end of the first week of class the second semester, as well as before the summer term begins, a member of the professorial faculty to advise them in some type of research project. The students are required to submit a short written summary of that research experience at the end of the semester. Students may continue with one advisor through all three semesters, or they may choose to cycle through several different research advisors. In some cases, one of these first-year research advisors may become a thesis advisor, but in others, the thesis advisor may change. This research requirement continues until the end of the second year, or until the student finds a thesis advisor.
The nature of these first-year research projects may vary from student to student, from one advisor to another, and from one sub-field of physics to another. In some cases they lead to published research. In other cases, they may be first steps in a longer-term research project. And in some cases, they may comprise reading or independent-study projects to develop background for subsequent research. It is left to the individual advisor to determine what the written summary should entail. These research projects are not research assistantships and are performed in addition to other graduate student responsibilities (teaching and graduate classwork), although they are typically merged with RA-supported research for those students supported by RAs.
Thesis Research and Defense
Students are required to find a thesis advisor no later than the beginning of the third year. After the student chooses a thesis advisor, the student forms their Thesis Committee consisting of the advisor and two other faculty members (all Thesis Committees contain at least two full-time faculty from the department). These committees function as extended advisory bodies; students have the opportunity to discuss their progress and problems with several faculty. They also conduct one formal annual review of each student’s progress. Research leading to the dissertation can be carried out not only within the Department of Physics and Astronomy, but with appropriate arrangements, either partly or entirely at other locations if necessitated by the project goals. At the conclusion of thesis research, the student presents the written dissertation to the faculty committee and defends the thesis in an oral examination.