Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

The Ph.D. in Physics degree is designed for students who desire to master fundamental concepts and techniques, who are interested in studying applications in various areas of technology and science, and who wish to keep abreast of the latest experimental and theoretical innovations in these areas. We offer a varied curriculum consisting of either highly specialized courses or broad training in diverse areas.

When you seek an advanced degree, you can gain both breadth and specialization. The required degree courses provide broad skills in basic physics, and the elective choices give highly specialized training in a variety of different areas. 

In this program you’ll work with leading faculty experts, patent holders, and startup founders who are well-published in high-profile journals and attract significant government and industry funding. Through resources like the Center for Quantum Science and Engineering, you can conduct research spanning from quantum foundations to applied quantum chips. Topics include nonlinear on-chip quantum photonics, topological physics, 2D materials, coherence optics, quantum machine learning, quantum LIDAR, quantum gravity, and many other fundamental and applied research themes conducted here on campus and in collaboration within and beyond the NYC metropolitan area. An overview of research areas and affiliated faculty that take on Ph.D. students can be found on the physics department websites. 

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Physics requires 84 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. Students who enter with a B.S. must first follow the M.S. in Physics guidelines for 30 credits. The remaining 54 credits must include at least: 

  • 18 credits of core courses

  • a minimum of 12 credits in PEP 960

A prior master’s degree may be transferred for up to 30 credits without specific course descriptions. Applications are welcome from students who have already earned a master’s degree elsewhere. Applicants with the equivalent of the Stevens Master of Science in physics degree are eligible to take the qualifying exam immediately and become candidates without additional course requirements. Nevertheless, they have to fulfill all described requirements including doctoral coursework, research, any core courses of the Stevens Master of Science in physics which they have not taken in the course of their previous Masters degree, and a total of 54 credits beyond the master’s degree.

Applicants with a non-physics master’s degree may be required to complete sufficient coursework to meet the requirements for a physics degree in addition to the remaining doctoral requirements outlined above. The details of the makeup work are determined by the department’s Graduate Academic Standards and Curriculum committee.

In addition to PEP 642, PEP 643, PEP 554, and PEP 555 or their equivalents that are required for the Master of Science in Physics, completion of the following coursework will be required for the Ph.D.:

PEP 667 Statistical Mechanics 

• Two 700-level courses chosen in consultation with an academic advisor

• Three Ph.D. signature credits (can be in one or multiple approved courses)

Ph.D. candidates are required to have competency in using computer-based methods of calculation and analysis. Students lacking this competency are encouraged to take PEP 520 Computational Physics, or equivalent.

Research Seminars


Ph.D. students are required to attend research seminars. Students failing to meet this requirement may be put on probation at the discretion of the faculty.


Qualifying Exam 


Ph.D. students must pass a qualifying examination, which consists of two oral examinations. The first oral examination tests mastery of a set of core physics topics (based on core courses PEP 538, 542, 554, 555) while the second oral examination tests the student’s ability to discuss physics problems and current research topics with an examining committee of three faculty members. Candidates have two opportunities to pass each examination. The first attempt must be made within the first two years of study at Stevens. Upon successful completion of both examinations, the student becomes a qualified Ph.D. candidate. The detailed policy is available from the department chair or associate department chair and is also stated in the Department of Physics Ph.D. guidebook.


Ph.D. Committee


Within six weeks after passing the qualification examination, a Ph.D. advisory committee shall be formed for each Ph.D. student consisting of a major advisor on the physics department faculty, an additional physics department faculty member, and a third Stevens faculty member from any department other than Physics. Additional committee members from Stevens or elsewhere may also be included. A detailed timeline and milestones towards the Ph.D. are found in the Department of Physics Ph.D. guidebook.




The student will carry out an original research program under the supervision of the major advisor and advisory committee. The results of the research will be presented in a written dissertation. Upon approval of the advisory committee, the written dissertation will be defended by the student in an oral defense.


Thesis Proposal


By the end of their fourth semester, students must write and present a thesis proposal, where they lay out an intended course of research for their dissertation. The proposal should contain an explanation of the problem and why it is important, a sketch of the proposed solution, and background information that serves to indicate that the problem is unsolved and what prior or related approaches to this or similar problems have already been investigated.


Dissertation Defense


The final Ph.D. dissertation is usually defended at the end of the fourth year of full-time study.




The faculty reserves the right to make exceptions to any of the rules and procedures described above in order to promote and preserve the health of the doctoral program and to ensure each student’s prompt and effective progress through the program.


Required Courses

PEP 667Statistical Mechanics


Two 700-level courses chosen in consultation with an academic advisor

Three Ph.D. signature credits

Three Ph.D. signature credits: Can be in one or multiple approved courses