Physics PhD Program
Our PhD program in Physics and Astronomy trains graduate students at the highest level to conduct research in forefront areas, including Astronomy and Cosmology, Biological Physics, AMO/Condensed Matter Physics, High Energy Physics, and Quantum Information Science. During the course of the graduate program, core graduate courses are taken during the first 3 semesters, followed by a minimum of 4 elective classes. Students in this program are expected to join a research group during their first year, pass a screening examination during their first two years, and pass a PhD qualifying exam during their first three years.
Physical Biology PhD Program
The Physical Biology (PBIO) PhD program is designed for graduate students who seek a quantitative framework for understanding the physical principles of biological organization and function. These students may have backgrounds from physics, engineering, mathematics and chemistry, but seek to wield their quantitative skills in the basic or applied life sciences. The program is also for students with training in the biological sciences looking for training and research opportunities grounded the physical sciences. and who seek a fundamental understanding of biological systems not emphasized in PhD programs associated with departments of biology, medicine, bioinformatics, or engineering. Graduates will likely move onto careers including medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, as well as career opportunities open to graduates with training in the physical sciences. Graduates may also pursue academic positions in the growing area of biophysics.
Joint Masters Programs
Medical Biophysics MS Program
The Master’s Program in Medical Biophysics (MBPH) is designed for students who have backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and engineering, and who are motivated to pursue training in biomedical research that emphasizes theoretical, computational, and experimental biophysical methods. The training faculty in the MBPH program includes faculty members from multiple departments at USC who have research programs in areas including structural biology, neuroscience, membrane biophysics, cellular biophysics, and theoretical biophysics. Students are usually admitted to the MBPH program on the research-based thesis track; however, in special circumstances applications to the non-thesis track will be considered. Please visit the Medical Biophysics MS Program website for more details.
Quantum Information Science MS Program
In recent years, experimental progress in the field of Quantum Information Science has led to the construction of the first small quantum information processors and quantum communication systems. Both established companies (like IBM, Google, Intel and Microsoft) and startups (like ID Quantique, D-Wave, Rigetti and IonQ) have begun investing large amounts into the development and commercialization of quantum technologies. Based on this investment and growth in the field, there are increasing opportunities for engineers with a background in quantum information science to work on the design, construction and programming of quantum systems. The curriculum of the Master of Science in Quantum Information Systems at USC is designed to produce well-rounded graduates who are prepared to tackle the diverse challenges of creating new quantum technologies. Our faculty includes top experts in Quantum Information Science from the Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry Departments. Graduates may pursue careers at major technology companies that are exploring advances in or applications of Quantum Information Science. Alternatively, they may wish to look for opportunities at early-stage or start-up companies focused on Quantum Computing Technology. Additional opportunities may be available in the fields of Defense, Telecom, Sensing, and Cryptography.