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University Bulletin: Physics

Quantitative Biology Ph.D. specialization

Soft Materials Program Ph.D. specialization

IGERT program

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Advanced Exam Rules (PDF)

Dates for Qualifying Exams, 2017:

Thursday, Jan. 19 (Part I)

Friday, May 12 (Part II)

scientists in cleanroom

Students in the clean room of the microfluidics fabrication facility. Photo: Mike Lovett

Graduate Studies

The Martin A. Fisher School of Physics at Brandeis University, located just outside of Boston, has an international reputation for excellence in research; it is among the highest ranked in the United States on the basis of publication citations. 

Graduate study at Brandeis is characterized by a low student-to-faculty ratio. Brandeis currently has 19 faculty members and 43 doctoral students in the Department of Physics. Students enjoy ample opportunity for personal interaction with instructors in the classroom and laboratory and with advisers to guide their master's and doctoral research. There are also many postdoctoral research associates collaborating with the faculty and graduate students, thus providing further occasions for connections between graduate students and physicists active in research. 

After obtaining their Ph.D.s, our students go on to postdocs at top research labs, as well as to employment in industry and the public sector. Master's students go on to top Ph.D. programs or into industry.


  • Graduate students in the department are engaged in a wide variety of research programs, ranging from biophysics to particle physics, from microfluidics to radio astronomy to string theory. 
  • The University runs a major National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) entitled "Bioinspired Soft Materials" with a dual focus on membrane-based materials and biological active materials. The MRSEC supports the research of 11 Brandeis faculty members and 22 graduate students and post-docs. 
  • Numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary studies are available to graduate students. Ph.D. students can apply to enroll in the Quantitative Biology program, supported by the NIH or the Soft Materials program, supported by the NSF. Upon completing these programs, students receive a Ph.D. in physics with an additional specialization in Quantitative Biology or Soft Materials. Furthermore, entering graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply to a competitive NSF IGERT program, "Geometry and Dynamics."  This program is oriented towards theorists, whose goal is to train a group of young scientists to apply a set of common mathematical concepts and techniques to problems across mathematics and natural and social sciences, from string theory to neuroscience to economics. The students are typically supported by the IGERT in their second and third year, with a stipend of  $30,000/year.   

The Boston area is also one of the world's major centers of research in physics. During the academic year, there are several colloquia and specialized seminars daily at area universities, including Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University. All of these schools are within 30 minutes of the Brandeis campus.


  • The department believes that the undergraduate experience rarely provides incoming graduate students with a firm idea of the best field to choose for their doctoral dissertation research. We have therefore built into the graduate program the maximum flexibility and opportunity to make a well-informed choice of research field.
  • At the same time, we also minimize the time required for students to get immersed in their fields once the choice has been made. Our schedule of courses and the qualifying exam process have been tailored not only for these purposes but to add to the richness of a good understanding of physics in general.


  • Students offered admission to the Ph.D. program will be offered full financial support (100 percent tuition scholarship and fellowship, plus health insurance and a stipend). 
  • The online application and more information on deadlines and requirements can be found here.

More information on graduate student life at Brandeis can be found on the Graduate Student Affairs page