Department of Physics and Astronomy Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences University of Pittsburgh

Department of Physics and Astronomy Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA
student ratio
total students
average amount to complete degree
January 31
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
2 Degrees Offered
degrees offered


University of Pittsburgh -- Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh provides graduate students with a solid foundation in advanced studies of the universe, solar system, and galaxies to prepare for careers including teaching, research, or work in industry.

Dating back to 1867, the department has an extensive history of innovation and research that has continued into the 21st century with world class teaching facilities such as the Alleghany Observatory.

A Highly-Distinguished Faculty

The program's distinguished faculty has included prominent physics pioneers such as Cyril Hazard, who revolutionized quasar observation, and Ezra T. Newman, known for his contributions to general relativity.

The program has also launched the careers of noted scientists including Vladimir Zworkin, known for his crucial work in creating the iconoscope and kinescope, and graduate students commonly go on to distinguished careers of their own.

Masters, Doctoral Degrees Offered

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in physics.

The M.S. degree can typically be completed in just 1 year, while the Ph.D. program can take longer, depending on the rate in which your research project progresses and other factors such as previous preparation. Some students complete the program in just 3 years, while most students require more than 4 years. Over the past five years, the average time it took students to earn a degree was 6.1 years.

Research Specializes in Four Fields

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh is well known for being at the forefront of breakthrough discoveries and research, with efforts generously funded by prominent agencies and organizations.

One of the department's research teams, for instance, recently was awarded a 5-year, $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to establish the Foundation for Quantum Supercomputers.

The research efforts in the department focus on 4 areas of specialty: astrophysics; cosmology; physics education; and condensed matter physics.

Astrophysics Research Group

Students and researchers focusing on astrophysics pursue topics ranging from massive stars and the supernova descendents to the production of dark matter in the early universe.

Research efforts include participation in major projects such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Deep Extragalactic Evolution Probe 2, and the department's researchers use space telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope to investigate phenomena of current interest.

In the research lab of Professor Daniel Boyanovsky, for instance, students participate in research focusing on bridging nuclear and particle physics with astrophysics and early universe cosmology.

Particle Physics Research Group

The University of Pittsburgh's particle physics group focuses on the search for new subatomic particles and the measurement of the properties of known particles and interactions.

The particle physics group has taken a lead role in studies on heavy quark physics, and the researchers are also involved in experiments at facilities including Fermilab's Tevatron, which collides protons and antiprotons in the highest energy in the world, and Europe's famed Large Hadron Collider.

Condensed Matter Physics Research Group

Researchers in condensed matter physics explore an ever-expanding range of phenomena, including ultrafast processes, quantum computation, and large-bandgap semiconductors.

In soft condensed matter physics, research looks at topics such as two-dimensional turbulence and biophysics. Recent research projects have looked at transport and other properties of ion channels, and the dynamics of complex fluids and transition dynamics in biological contexts.

World Class Allegheny Observatory

Graduate students in physics and astronomy conduct extensive research in the Allegheny Observatory, one of the world's major astronomical research institutions. The observatory dates back to 1859, and its current telescopes include the 30-inch Thaw refractor, a 30-inch Keeler Memorial Reflector, and the 13-inch Fitz-Clark Refractor.

Among the many renowned accomplishments at the observatory was the publication of 10 volumes of star parallax data and calculations collected by researchers at the observatory between 1910 and 1969 and still of great value to astronomers.

Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering

Much research in physics and astronomy also takes place in the University of Pittsburgh's Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering, where interdisciplinary teams from various departments collaborate on groundbreaking innovations and knowledge generation.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Westinghouse Electric Company, offers students and researchers access to state-of-the-art systems for powerful, high-performance computing, communications and data handling.

Financial Aid at the University of Pittsburgh

Graduate students normally can receive financial aid through teaching or research assistantships. Extensive fellowships are also offered, including departmental, university-sponsored, and external fellowships.

Students supported as teaching or research assistants or through fellowships receive a merit scholarship for tuition and fees, and health insurance is covered.

Location & Contact

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Dr. David Turnshek

Department Chair

Phone: 412-624-6381
Fax: 412-624-9163

Dr. Robert Devaty

Graduate Admissions Committee Chair

Phone: 412-624-9009
Fax: 412-624-9163

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Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Physics Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 17
    • Doctoral Degrees 10
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Yes
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


26% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 201
    • Accepted 64
    • Acceptance Rate 26
    • Enrolled 25
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $
    • Application Fee - International $50
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline January 15th January 15th Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE General Test, GRE Subject Test, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE General Test, GRE Subject Test, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, IELTS required

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & Fees$19,964
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsJanuary 15
    • Types of financial support availableFellowships, Research Assitantships, Teaching Assistantships, Tuition Waivers, Health Care Benefits, Scholarship and/or loans, Graduate Assistantships

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students96
    • Female Percentage21%
    • Male Percentage79%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students96
    • Part-time Percentage1%
    • Full-time Percentage99%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino5%
    • Black / African American0%
    • White / Caucasian92%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian3%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown0%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty46
    • Full-time Percentage98%
    • Part-time Percentage2%
    • Female Percentage13%
    • Male Percentage87%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchAstrophysics and cosmology, particle and astroparticle physics, condensed matter and solid-state physics, quantum information, biological physics, nanoscience
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last year$7,599,016