Physics PhD FAQ

What kinds of research do you do at Northeastern?
Elementary particle/astro-particle physics, condensed matter physics, nanophysics, biological physics, and the physics of complex systems, as well as interdisciplinary research between these fields and with other areas of science. The Physics Department research page has more information on research.

Will I receive a teaching or research assistantship?
The Department of Physics offers a complete package of financial aid in the form of teaching assistantship positions, including a typical one-year stipend of $31,830 as well as full tuition and health care coverage. Students beyond the second academic year are expected to be supported by their advisors on research assistantships, but some advanced students may also be supported on teaching assistantships. Learn more.

What are my duties as a teaching assistant?
Teaching assistants are assigned 20 hours of teaching, grading and proctoring duties each week. New students are expected to take a short introductory course in teaching techniques before school starts.

What courses will I be taking? Will there be a qualifying or comprehensive exam?
Our standard first-year graduate courses are designed to provide a thorough knowledge of the basics of modern physics: electromagnetism, classical mechanics and mathematical methods of physics, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics. At the beginning of the second year, a qualifying examination based on the mentioned materials is given. The second-year courses are designed to prepare the student for independent research in their chosen field, so we offer one year of coursework in elementary particle physics, condensed matter physics, biological physics, or network science. The second year coursework also includes one elective in an area outside the field of specialization as well as a computational physics course. The student is expected to submit a PhD proposal by the end of their third year and give a seminar on the topic.

How long does it take to get a PhD?
Students are expected to complete their coursework and research in five years.

What sort of job can I get as a PhD physicist?
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has statistics about employment opportunities in physics. The AIP Career Network provides helpful career information and job opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. To see what our PhD students have gone on to do, please visit our graduate student job database.

***If you still have questions about the Physics PhD program, email gradphysics@neu.edu.