Recognizing the serious challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to learning, teaching, and academic performance assessment, the Department of Physics at Brown University asserts the following principles:

We will consider the significant disruptions and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when reviewing applicants’ academic transcripts and other application materials as part of our ongoing practice of performing an individualized, holistic review of each applicant. 

As the physics admissions committee reviews applications in future admissions cycles, we will respect decisions made by individual students and/or by their academic institutions concerning the enrollment in or adoption of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Pass/No Record, Credit/No Credit, Pass/Fail and similar grading options during the COVID-19 disruptions.  Applicants are invited to describe their individual experiences during the pandemic to provide context that informs the application review process. We strive to create future graduate student cohorts composed of intellectually strong, diverse, and resilient individuals who will make the most of their graduate education opportunities at Brown University.

Physics phd program

The Physics Ph.D. program provides students with opportunities to perform independent research in some of the most current and dynamic areas of physics. Students develop a solid and broad physics knowledge base in the first year through the core curriculum, departmental colloquia, and training. Upper-level courses and departmental seminar series subsequently provide more specialized exposure. Armed with the core knowledge, doctoral students join a research group working in an area of particular interest. This research is performed in very close collaboration with one or more faculty whose interests span a wide range of physics fields.

Degree Requirements  
  • Sc.M. (en route to Ph.D.): Eight courses from the core group (PHYS2010, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140: techniques in experimental physics, classical theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics) and other 2000-level courses. Up to two research courses.  Courses from outside the department might be substituted with the permission of the DGS.
  • Ph.D.: All core courses, four advanced courses, comprehensive examination, preliminary examination, faculty-supervised research, dissertation, and oral defense.
Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to have a strong background in physics or closely related subjects at the undergraduate level. All applications are evaluated holistically to assess the applicant's preparation and potential for graduate coursework and independent research, which can be demonstrated in multiple ways.

Submitting General and Physics GRE scores is recommended (but not required), especially for non-traditional students (this includes applicants with a bachelor's degree outside of physics or applicants who have taken a long gap after completing their bachelor's degree).

Three recommendation letters from faculty or others acquainted with the applicant's academic and/or research qualifications are required.

If you have submitted an application and need to make changes or add to the application, do not send the materials to the Physics department.  The department is unable to alter or add to your application. Contact the Graduate School staff for all changes.  


Ph.D. Program Handbook