General Description of the Graduate Progam

The Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences offers courses of study and research that normally lead to the Ph.D. degree. The M.A degree is awarded either as a terminal degree, or to students on the way to the Ph.D. degree. The Master of Science in Scientific Instrumentation program is provided for those interested in instrumentation for physical research. A Master of Arts in Teaching program, from the School of Professional Development, is available for students seeking to teach physics in high schools.

Students may find opportunities in various areas of physics not found in the department or in related disciplines at Stony Brook in such programs as Medical Physics, Chemical Physics, Atmospheric and Climate Modeling, Materials Science and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The entire faculty participates in teaching a rich curriculum of undergraduate, graduate, and professional development courses, including many courses on special topics of current interest. Graduate students must fulfill one year of teaching. Course requirements are kept at a minimum to allow the student to set up a flexible program. Students are encouraged to participate in research as early as possible and to begin their thesis research no later than the beginning of their third year. The typical length of time to the Ph.D. is four to six years, whereas the Master's in Scientific Instrumentation is a two-year program that involves a thesis project in instrumentation design or development, and the work for an M.A. degree can be completed in two semesters and one Summer.

The Stony Brook Physics graduate program has been highly ranked in national surveys for the quality of its graduate program, its faculty, and the impact of its published research. It strives to make a graduate education in physics intellectually stimulating and educationally rewarding.


Doctoral Program in Physics

This is the generic Ph.D. degree which may specialize in any of the above research areas. This course of study is pursued by most students in the Ph.D. program. See below for a description of the degree requirements.

Doctoral Program with Concentration in Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a Ph.D. degree with concentration in astronomy when the thesis work is carried out in the area of astronomy or astrophysics. Some of the requirement for the Ph.D. degree are substituted by astronomy courses.

Doctoral Program with Concentration in Physical Biology

This is an interdisciplinary concentration connected with the Laufer Center for Quantitative Biology. Students usually declare their interest in this concentration not later than the end of the first semester. Postponing this decision will result in a loss of time. There are several differences with the default physics concentration. The number of core courses is reduced by one course while several physical biology courses are required. Instead of the graduate lab students do rotations with faculty associated with the Laufer Center. Also the Graduate Seminar is substituted by the Laufer Center Journal Club.

Doctoral Programs with Concentration in Chemical Physics

The basic degree requirements for a student enrolled in this program are the same as those for other students in physics. Students will usually be advised to take one or more courses in chemical physics. The written part of the preliminary (comprehensive) examination is the same as for other physics students; the oral part will ordinarily be on topics in chemical physics. Subject to the approval of the chairpersons of the two programs involved, the student’s research advisor may be chosen from participating members of the cooperating programs.

Master of Science Program with Concentration in Instrumentation

This is a two year Master of Science Program in which students focus on the study of modern research instrumentation.

Master of Arts Degree in Physics

This program which can be completed in three or four semesters prepares you either of admission to a Ph.D. program or for a physics related job in a national lab or in the private sector.