Graduate Programs

Graduate student receiving her diploma on stageThe Western Michigan University Department of Physics offers graduate programs leading to Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Our programs prepare students for careers in industry, academia and national laboratories. Research at the forefront of knowledge plays an essential role.

You may wish to review our American Institute of Physics profile.

Concentrations are available in:

  • Atomic and nuclear physics, with potential applications in astrophysics
  • Condensed matter physics and material physics
  • Physics education—Master's level only in the Department of Physics, with potential for a thesis. Students interested in physics education at the doctoral level should apply to the science education: physics program through the WMU Mallinson Institute for Science Education.

Students benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio

Physics graduate students at workWMU physics faculty are involved in research at leading national and international laboratories. Their interests include high-intensity photon beams, advanced materials analysis and experimental nuclear physics with applications in astrophysics.

Our theorists work on strongly correlated quantum systems, atomic structure and spectroscopy with applications in astrophysics, photonic crystals, and nuclear structure and reactions.

We also have a group of faculty dedicated to the research and improvement of physics teaching and learning at the college and secondary levels.

Students often work in applied physics in conjunction with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Application deadline

March 15, with priority consideration given to completed applications submitted by February 15 for the following fall semester.

Specific application requirements:

Required materials

Review the required materials for application to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy programs in physics:

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. (International applicants, please see supplemental information below.) Please request these be sent to or:

    WMU Office of Admissions
    1903 W Michigan Ave
    Kalamazoo MI 49008-5211 USA
  • Resume or curriculum vitae submitted within the online application.
  • Graduate Record Examination General Test score.  The GRE is currently being waived for M.A. applicants. The GRE is not required, but recommended for both the General and Physics Subject exams for Ph.D. applicants. Admissions preference is given to students who have taken and scored well on the GRE subject (physics) exam. Western Michigan University's school code for GRE scores is 1902.
  • Three recommendations. Send email requests to recommenders from within the online application.
  • M.A. applicants: submit a written statement within the online application of no more than 500 words that includes autobiographical information and briefly mentions research interests if you were to do a thesis.
  • Ph.D. applicants: submit a written statement within the online application (double-spaced and between 500 and 1500 words) that demonstrates your communication skills and writing competence. It should include:
    • A summary of your experiences in academic, professional, research, creative, or scholarly activities, and indicate how they make you an ideal candidate for graduate study in your selected program.
    • Descriptions of specific area(s) of research interest(s), and whether these are experimental or theoretical/computational.
    • An explanation of how your experiences and research interests align with the research program strengths in the WMU Department of Physics, and whether there is a specific faculty member with whom you'd be interested in working; and discussion of your future professional goals.


Information for international applicants

  • For international applicants, unofficial transcripts, provided by the applicant within the online application, are sufficient for preliminary review by our graduate admissions committee. Admitted students will be required to provide official transcripts. Note: At this time, the GRE is being waived for both M.A. and Ph.D. applicants. Official GRE scores must be sent to WMU from ETS.
  • The TOEFL exam is required for students from non-English speaking countries: PBT (550) or iBT (80). More information can be found in the online application.

    If you are conditionally admitted with scores below those mentioned above, you will need to go through the university's CELCIS program prior to starting your physics program.


Graduate assistantships

We offer a variable number (typically 3-6) of graduate assistantships to Ph.D. and occasionally to masters students in each year’s entering class. Assistantships are for one year, but are generally continued for students in good academic standing. Additionally, assistantships are also generally available for at least one of the two summer sessions.

Students with an assistantship are typically assigned to undergraduate laboratory classes and devote 20 hours each week to teaching, grading and meeting with students during office hours. To be eligible, students must meet Graduate College requirements.

More information

You are welcome here, written in six different languages not counting EnglishCurrent and prospective graduate students should consult the Graduate College for updated information. We encourage students to also consult with the Department of Physics graduate program advisor.

Moving to Kalamazoo

Reasons to choose our programs

Graduate studies in physics

Graduate handbook

Ph.D. program sequence

Global Engagement

#WorldAtWestern - Western Michigan University student, Shahid Iqbal, talks about his experiences in coming to WMU and perusing his Ph.D. in physics and his experience as a graduate student. The #WorldAtWestern highlights the global nature of the Western Michigan University campus