Physics Graduate Studies

Caltech's graduate program provides students with a broad education in fundamental physics and extensive hands-on experience in conducting independent research. The program, which is designed for students working toward their PhD, prepares graduates for careers in scientific research or research combined with teaching.

Research is a vital component of the program and graduate students have the opportunity to pursue interests in many different areas, including elementary particle physics; cosmic-ray, gamma-ray, and x-ray astronomy; submillimeter astronomy; condensed matter physics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; quantum optics; applied physics; gravitational physics; cosmology; astrophysics; mathematical physics; biophysics; and theoretical physics.

Mission of the Caltech Physics Graduate Program

An advanced degree in physics at Caltech is contingent upon an extensive research achievement. Students in the program are expected to join a research group, carry out independent research, write publications for peer-reviewed journals as well as a thesis. The thesis work is then presented and evaluated by a Caltech thesis committee in a public defense. Initially, students are required to consolidate their knowledge by taking advanced courses in at least six subfields of physics. Students must also pass a written candidacy exam in both classical physics and quantum mechanics in order to progress into the research phase of the degree.

Graduates of our program are expected to have extensive experience with modern research methods, a broad knowledge of contemporary physics, and the ability to perform as independent researchers at the highest intellectual and technical levels.


For information from the application process to your arrival at Caltech, please see

For general information about the physics graduate program at Caltech, please see

Information for Applicants

Information for Incoming Graduate Students

Information for New Arrivals

How to Complete this Program

Graduate Program Policies

External Funding Opportunities