Graduate

Graduate programs in physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University are among the top programs in the field. Students engage in original research starting in their first semester and have flexibility in choosing their course of research and designing their path through the program. A wide range of research projects—both theoretical and experimental—are available in astrophysics, condensed matter physics, particle physics, and plasma spectroscopy. Graduate students can work toward a PhD in either physics or astronomy and astrophysics. Our doctoral students are prepared for careers in physics and astronomy research, teaching, or in applications such as biophysics, space physics, and industrial research.

Graduate students at Johns Hopkins study and work in close collaboration with a world-renowned, award-winning physics and astronomy faculty, whose research is truly global. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, and they are full participants in the vibrant intellectual life of the department. Research leading to the dissertation can be carried out not only within the Department of Physics and Astronomy, but also in collaboration with other research centers. Recent dissertation research has been conducted with members of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Space Telescope Science Institute, and the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Graduate students are involved in research projects beginning in their first semester at JHU. Students are free to explore different areas of research by working on short research projects with different advisers. A series of seminars, presentations and orientation events held in the fall semester help introduce students to the faculty in the department so that they can choose their first project. Such projects may last a semester or a year; they might become the prelude to their thesis work or may focus on a completely separate topic. In many cases, the projects lead to published research papers. By the end of their second year, students have typically completed their required graduate classes, have explored several different research directions and are in a good position to choose a thesis topic and a thesis advisor. Students start thesis research no later than fall of their 3rd year and graduate at the end of the 5th or 6th year.

It is departmental policy that all graduate students in good standing are supported through fellowships, research assistantships and / or teaching assistantships for up to six years. The financial package covers the tuition and student health insurance, and provides a stipend commensurate with that of other leading research institutions. We have designed our graduate program in such a way that indeed most students earn their PhD in six years or less.

Fellowships: We strongly encourage prospective and enrolled students eligible for external fellowships to apply for them. For graduate students already enrolled, research and academic advisors provide assistance and support in applying for NSF fellowships, NASA fellowships, etc. Faculty and staff nominate graduate students for departmental and university fellowships, and applications are reviewed by the graduate program committee and / or the department chair.

Teaching and research assistantships: Teaching and research assistantships are equivalent in terms of salary and benefits. Most students are supported by teaching assistantships during their first year. In subsequent years, they may be supported by teaching assistantships or research assistantships depending on availability of external funding and research performance. Students should discuss funding options with their advisors well in advance of the semester in question. Teaching assistantships in year six and beyond should be requested by the student and the advisor by application to the graduate program committee. Continuation in the program and financial support of any kind in year seven and beyond should also be requested by the student and the advisor by application to the graduate program committee. In evaluating these requests, the graduate program committee takes into consideration whether the student is on a clear path to graduation, whether the student is making good progress and whether the extension is necessitated by the scope of the thesis.