PHYS Department of Physics


SMU Physics Graduate Degree Programs

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SMU Physics is dedicated to excellence in graduate education for small numbers of students with an emphasis on high-energy particle physics, particle astrophysics, and astronomy. We welcome applicants from around the world. Candidates in our program receive financial support while in good standing. Please see our department brochure for more information. You can learn more about the positions obtained by our graduate students after earning their degrees from our Alumni Page.

If you have questions, please contact our Director of Graduate Studies.

Research Areas

SMU graduate students have the opportunity to work in a wide range of research programs at the forefront of experimental and theoretical high-energy particle physics. These include the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, the NOνA Neutrino Experiment, and the SuperCDMS Dark Matter Search Experiment, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), as well as particle theory research on proton structure, Higgs boson theory, and beyond-the-Standard Model frameworks.

Admission/Financial Aid

Applications for admission to our graduate program must include the following to receive consideration:

  • Transcripts of your college/university education.
  • GRE general and subject (physics) exam scores. The Physics GRE is only offered periodically, so please plan ahead.
  • When applicable, your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • A personal statement describing your interests and goals, as well as any relevant past experience.

Information and application material are available from:

Research & Graduate Studies
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX 75275 (USA)

SMU Office of Research and Graduate Studies
Research and Graduate Studies Application for Admission

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Ph.D. Program

Students in the Ph.D. program benefit from small classes, accessible faculty and research staff, and a wide range of opportunities for research in experimental and theoretical high-energy research programs. Many students begin research projects during their first year. All students in good standing receive teaching or research stipends during the academic year, along with tuition waivers. Summer support is also available. Excellent applicants to the program may also be eligible for the SMU University-wide Fellowship, which is a university-wide competitive fellowship program that awards graduate students with an additional amount of stipend on top of their base stipend from the department. The department can nominate up to two applicants per year for this competitive fellowship.

Students typically receive support for work as teaching assistants during their first two years, and, after successful completion of the Ph.D. core proficiency, research support until completion of their thesis and degree.

The graduate courses are described in the SMU Graduate Student Course Catalog (2016-2017). All formal course information is available in the Dedman College/Physics section of the book.

The core course plan for graduate students is provided in the Physics Graduate Handbook, as well as suggestions for other courses needed to fulfill our program's requirements for credit-hours.

M.S. Program

The emphasis of our graduate program is on the Ph.D. degree, and we only accept students for that program. However, students may earn an M.S. degree en route to their Ph.D. The requirements for a Master's Degree are found in the Physics Graduate Handbook.

Resources for Current Graduate Students

Physics Department Graduate Student Handbook

Core Proficiency Exam Information (2018-2019)


Ph.D. student B. Wang works on maintaining the Near Detector of the NOvA neutrino oscillation experiment at Fermilab. He earned his degree in 2017 studying novel properties of the neutrino.

M.S. student B. Ferdousi (left) explains her research on dark matter with Physics Major L. Banister (right) at the Dedman College Research Fair. Ferdousi continued on after SMU to a Ph.D. program in space sciences, earning her degree in 2017.

Ph.D. student H. Qiu is dressed for the hunt for dark matter on a visit to the Sudbury Mine in Canada. He earned his Ph.D. on the first SuperCDMS-Soudan data.

Ph.D. student R. Daya on shift for the Liquid Argon Calorimeter detector, part of the ATLAS Detector, in the ATLAS control center. Daya went on to a post-doctoral position in the field on ATLAS and is now a Research Lead/Data Scientist at spotify.

Ph.D. student Y. Ilchenko presents his work on monitoring the data quality of the ATLAS Experiment. Ilchenko went on to a post-doctoral position in the field on ATLAS.

Course Sequence

To aid in planning your courses each semester, please find below the core courses (required for the degree) and places where non-core (e.g. elective) courses can fit into your schedule. We have a predictable course rotation that begins based on the whether the fall semeter lies in an even- or odd-numbered year. This is automatically updated on this page.


First-Year Graduate Students
Second-Year Graduate Students