3d illustration of molecule model. Science background with molecules and atoms
Doctor of Philosophy

About the Program

Explore the evolution and contents of the universe—from its earliest moments on—when you pursue your PhD in Physics at Case Western Reserve, one of the top research universities in the U.S. Our program has three main focuses: (1) particle astrophysics and cosmology, (2) hard condensed matter physics with an emphasis on quantum phenomena and devices, and (3) soft condensed matter physics and biophysics. Here, you can build your course schedule from a large array of offerings in physics and related science and engineering departments, all while preparing to become a physicist, astronomer, or university professor, or to enter another profession. 

What to Expect

In our program, you’ll dive into topics such as nanoscopic physics, ultrafast spectroscopy, optical materials and optoelectronic devices, surface science, and exciting new opportunities in biophysics and biomaterials. You can complete our program in about five and a half years—and can expect to be supported fully for the duration of your program through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships.

In fact, all our admitted students are offered financial support for a stipend and tuition, and we don’t admit students unless we believe they have good prospects for success in our program—and beyond. Graduating students generally have one or more job offers before graduation; typically about half of our graduates take postdoctoral fellowships, while the remaining students go into industrial or national laboratory positions. Approximately five years out, the employment distribution among our alumni is approximately one-third each in tenure faculty positions, industrial positions, and national laboratory positions. 

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What to Expect

Research in the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve covers a range of areas relevant to governmental policies—and you’ll work closely on these projects as you hone in on your specialty. Our faculty conduct research on topics including:

  • Energy conservation and alternative energy sources, a major focus of the state and nation
  • Soft condensed matter such as polymers and liquid crystals, which ties in with the industry in Northeast Ohio
  • Semiconductor and nanoscopic systems, important for the United States’ technological infrastructure
  • Medical physics, which partners well with the large medical infrastructure and medical imaging industry in our surrounding area.
  • Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics with multidisciplinary connections between our department and other departments and schools at CWRU.

We’re also heavily involved in outreach: our faculty make regular appearances on NPR’s Science Friday, consult as technical experts for area companies and law firms, and direct educational outreach via activities at the Great Lakes Science Center and area high schools and middle schools. Additionally, we’re known to present popular lectures, judge science fairs, and supervise high school research projects in our own laboratories. We’re excited to see how you’ll promote the progress of physics—and how you’ll make an impact on the Cleveland community. 

By the Numbers


credit-hour program (if entering with a master’s)


free fellowship courses offered


median annual wage for the field, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


years average time to degree completion

Admission Details

For admission to the PhD program, a bachelor's degree in physics, mathematics, or a related field is required. Candidates should have taken standard upper-level undergraduate subjects such as quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, and classical mechanics. 

When reviewing your profile for admission consideration, we require the following:

  • Completed online application
  • Statement of objective
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL scores for international students whose first language is not English
  • Official transcripts

For applicants applying for Fall 2022 admission, GRE scores are not required and will not be considered.

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