The Department of Physics and Astronomy in the University of Southern California's Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is a research and teaching department. Our faculty are leaders in their research disciplines and are among USC's most distinguished teachers.


Physics and Astronomy are both going through revolutionary times mirrored by the research programs in the department, which range from theory of High Energy Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Nanoscale Physics, and Solar Physics to Cosmology. Large Scale Computation is an important field with several state-of-the-art facilities available to students and faculty.


Emerging areas of research in our department include the rapidly developing fields of Quantum Information Science and Physical Biology. Physical Biology is where the quantitative skills of physicists address important problems coming from biological systems.


Our programs have proven to be an ideal preparation for a broad range of interdisciplinary areas for which a quantitative training is crucial: this includes not only traditional physics careers, but also engineering, business, and finance. Our department is currently introducing innovative courses in biological physics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Undergraduate Education

For undergraduate students, we offer majors in Physics, Astronomy, Biophysics, and a joint Physics/Computer Science program. We also offer minors in Physics and Astronomy.

Graduate Studies

For graduate students, we offer a Ph.D. in Physics. If you are a prospective graduate student, please take a look at the Ph.D. section for all the information on application to our Ph.D. program.

It's a Family Affair....

2015 Physics and Astronomy Graduate, Shea Livingston:

“I knew my great grandfather had gone to USC, but I had no idea when he graduated. When I found that [1915 Commencement] program and realized I would be graduating exactly 100 years after him I was absolutely thrilled.....I guess physics runs in our family because my great uncle built cyclotrons, one of the earliest types of particle accelerators, with Ernest Lawrence, his professor at University of California, Berkeley,” Livingston said. Lawrence later won the 1939 Nobel Prize for his invention. Livingston discovered that one of her instructors at USC Dornsife, Vitaly Kresin, professor of physics and astronomy, had worked at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, which was named for Lawrence.

Read more about Shea Livingston at:


2015 PhD Achievement Award Recipient Avik Halder

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is very proud to announce that on May 7th, Avik Halder received the 2015 PhD Achievement Award.  Associate Dean for Fellowships, Meredith Drake Reitan presented the award while his advisor, Vitaly Kresin, faculty and staff were on hand to congratulate.  One of Avik's research focuses has been to search for the exotic properties of metal nanoclusters, also commonly known as superatoms. Congratulations Avik!

Giving Website


This year's departmental retreat was held at the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island. In addition to sharing their latest scientific research, students and faculty enjoyed a wide variety of activities, such as hiking, scuba diving and cave-exploring on this beautiful island!

Catalina Retreat 2015

  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • University of Southern California
  • 825 Bloom Walk
  • ACB 439
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0484