College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Dr. Laura Sales and grad students

Graduate Program


UC Riverside Graduate Physics and Astronomy Program

Welcome to the graduate program at the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of California at Riverside.

We invite you to apply to our PhD program or find out more information about applying: 

Apply to our Program       General Graduate Admissions Information

The Department has a very active research program with 44 faculty and 132 graduate students. We have theoretical and experimental research programs in Astrophysics, Biophysics, Condensed Matter Physics, Cosmology, Fundamental Precision Measurements, High Energy Physics, Relativistic Heavy Ion and Nucleon Spin Physics, and Surface Physics. We use facilities located on the campus at UCR as well as at major national and international laboratories.

As UC Riverside has rapidly expanded, we have taken advantage of this opportunity to grow into an elite physics department while maintaining our supportive mentoring tradition. The graduate program is a top priority of the campus, allowing us to offer competitive financial support. All of our incoming graduate students are fully supported through fellowship and TA packages.

The city of Riverside (population ~325,000) is located 50 miles east of Los Angeles in Southern California. The San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains close by offer hiking and skiing. Several of the Southern California beach communities are only 50 miles to the west, and Palm Springs and the high desert (Joshua Tree National Park) are 60 miles to the east. The university campus occupies a spacious park-like, 1,200-acre site on the outskirts of Riverside, near the Box Springs Mountains. We are within 30 miles of many other tourist attractions such as Disneyland.


Reasons to get a PhD at UC Riverside

  1. Distinguished Faculty
    • Junior Faculty Awards
      • 5 National Science Foundation Career Awards
      • 2 Sloan Research Fellow
      • 2 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Awards
      • 3 Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator Awards
      • 1 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PCASE)
    • Full Professor Honors
      • 1 Nobel Prize in physics
      • 1 APS Panofsky Prize (High Energy Physics)
      • 1 Bardeen Prize (Condensed Matter Physics)
      • 1 Humboldt Fellowship
      • 1 Guggenheim Fellowship
      • 10 APS Fellows
      • 1 AVS Fellow
      • 6 AAAS Fellows
  2. Growing Graduate Program
    • Graduate enrollment has grown from 89 to 132 in the last 10 years
    • Entering class ~34 students, ~12 international, ~13 domestic provides critical mass for student cohort, student breadth, national and international diversity, and full graduate curriculum
  3. PhD in Physics with emphasis in 7 tracks 
    • Nuclear and Particle Physics
    • Condensed Matter, Surface, Optical Physics and Biophysics
    • Astrophysics
    • Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
    • Materials and Nanoscale Physics
    • Astronomy (New PhD Program in Astronomy expect to begin Fall 2023)
  4. Research Infrastructure/Activities
    • ~$12.3M extramural grants/year
    • Support for 16 postdoctoral researchers, 10 Research Scientists giving students access to 40 faculty and 26 additional PhD's for mentoring and training.
    • Weekly departmental colloqium and topical seminars bring outside physicists and astronomers to campus
      • condensed matter
      • nanoscale science and engineering
      • astronomy/astrophysics
      • high energy
  5. Graduate Program Highlights
    • Outstanding multidisciplinary training and research opportunities 
      • For Condensed Matter with the Center for Nano-scale Electronics, Phenomena, and Technology (CONSEPT), the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) with faculty from Chemistry and the College of Engineering college, and the Spin and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems (SHINES) Energy Frontier Research Center. 
      •  For Biophysics with UCR's Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Bioengineering
      • High Energy and Relativistic Heavy Ion and Nucleon Spin physics programs highly leveraged with international collaborations at LHC, RHIC, and Fermilab
      • For Astronomy with the NASA Big Data Training and Research Center and program well-leveraged with UC telescopes (Keck and future TMT), Southern California astronomy infrastructure, and access to SpARCS and COSMOS survey data

We look forward to hearing any questions about our department or application procedure.


Prof. Laura Sales, Chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee 
Prof. Vivek Aji, Chair of the Graduate Advisors Committee



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