Graduate education in physics at Harvard offers students exciting opportunities extending over a diverse range of subjects and departments. In the Department of Physics, talented and hardworking graduate students work in state-of-the-art facilities with renowned faculty and accomplished postdoctoral fellows.
The department’s primary areas of experimental and theoretical research include atomic and molecular physics, quantum optics, condensed-matter physics, computational physics, the physics of solids and fluids, biophysics, astrophysics, statistical mechanics, mathematical physics, high-energy particle physics, quantum field theory, string theory, and relativity.
The department is committed to fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment and attracting the widest possible range of talents, and currently has more than 50 faculty members (including emeriti), over 100 postdoctoral fellows, and over 200 graduate students.
The on-campus buildings of the Department of Physics include Jefferson Laboratory and Lyman Laboratory. Jefferson Laboratory is the oldest physics laboratory in the country and today includes a wing designed and renovated specifically to facilitate study and collaboration among the department’s graduate students.
Prospective students should be well-versed in undergraduate-level physics and mathematics. Typically, applicants will have devoted approximately half of their undergraduate work to physics and related subjects, such as mathematics and chemistry. It is desirable for every applicant to have completed at least one year of introductory quantum mechanics classes.
A prospective student who has a marked interest in a particular branch of physics should include this information in the online application. If possible, applicants should also indicate whether they are inclined toward experimental or theoretical (mathematical) research. This statement of preference will not be treated as a binding commitment to any course of study and research.
In the Advanced Coursework section of the online application, prospective students must indicate the six most advanced courses (four in physics and two in mathematics) they completed or will complete at their undergraduate institution.
Cross-disciplinary research opportunities in the applied sciences, astrophysics, biophysics, and chemistry are offered by the Department of Physics as well as by the Harvard John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Department of Astronomy, the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. If deemed appropriate, applications indicating interest in these other scientific areas may be transferred by the physics committee to the committees of the relevant departments for review.
The GRE general test and physics GRE Subject test are optional.
For more information, visit the Department of Physics and GSAS Policies.