Introduction to the Graduate Program
210 Jadwin Hall
Graduate education in physics at Princeton is based on the premise that the Ph.D. is a research degree. The program has two main goals: the development of a broad background in basic physics, and, through the completion of a thesis, the expansion of research abilities in a more specialized area. The success of the program can be judged by the large number of first-rate theses that our students have written. Our students are prepared for careers in research and teaching at the university level or research in industrial and government laboratories. The skills acquired or extended through intensive graduate work in physics - quantitative reasoning, advanced computational methods, equipment and electronics design, and many others - are also applicable to many other fields.
The Physics Department maintains an active research program with equal emphasis on theoretical and experimental studies. Besides our traditional strengths in theoretical and experimental elementary particle physics, theoretical and experimental gravity and cosmology, experimental nuclear and atomic physics, mathematical physics, and theoretical condensed matter physics, we have newer strong and growing groups in experimental condensed matter physics and biophysics. We attempt to integrate graduate students into the research program as soon as possible. First-year students are supported by university fellowships. In the following years, most students are supported either as assistants in research or as assistants in instruction, while a few are recipients of NSF or other fellowships. Whatever their source of support is, all students are strongly encouraged to get involved with research and to participate in the activities of the research groups. The duration of the Graduate Program is 5 years, and some students complete the Ph.D. even in a shorter period.
The ratio of faculty to graduate students is about one to two, so there is ample opportunity for contact between faculty and students. Because of this, our Ph.D.'s leave exceedingly well prepared for research. In addition to participating in research, colloquia, and the many weekly seminars within the department, the faculty and students often benefit from interactions with other departments on campus.
Princeton physicists have collaborated fruitfully with the departments of astrophysical sciences, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and molecular biology, as well as with the Institute for Advanced Study, PRISM, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and nearby industrial laboratories. We strongly support cross-disciplinary research, and graduate students may pursue their interests in physics by writing theses supervised by researchers in these departments and laboratories.
University housing is available for graduate students, with first-year students getting priority. It is common for students to live in University housing for a year or more before moving into privately-owned apartments in town.
Princeton is a very pleasant place to live. The center of town, across Nassau Street from the campus, contains a growing number of restaurants, ice cream parlors, coffee houses, and pubs, all within easy walking distance. The University and town also provide an impressive schedule of concerts and dance performances, an award-winning theater company, and lectures of a wide variety. New York City and Philadelphia are each only an hour away; a connecting train stops a short walk from the physics building.