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Introduction to the Graduate Program.


An overview of the Penn State Physics research program.


The university, town and environs.


Nature, entertainment, athletics, culture and the arts.


Opportunities both on and off campus.


Assistantships, financial support, and living espenses.


Comments from current and former graduate students in the department.

Research opportunities for students can be found in numerous areas of experimental and theoretical physics. Major research areas at Penn State include acoustics, atomic-molecular-optical physics, elementary particle physics, and condensed-matter physics. Cross-disciplinary areas, such as astrophysics, and chemical, materials, and mathematical physics are also available.

Should you be interested in more detail, we encourage you to explore the rest of our website, or to contact faculty directly by letter, electronic mail, fax, or telephone. Contact information is contained in the online the faculty listings.

Beginning graduate students at Penn State have ample opportunity to learn about faculty research in much greater detail through a faculty research seminar given during the fall and spring semesters of their first year. In addition, informal discussions with more senior graduate students are useful in determining both an area and an adviser for research.

Essential to the vitality of the Penn State physics department research effort is an extensive seminar and colloquium program in which visitors from other universities and laboratories foreign and domestic discuss their research.

Over a recent two-year period, Nobel Laureate physicists Murray Gell-Mann, Leon Lederman, Karl Mueller, Heinrich Rohrer, Klaus von Klitzing, and Chen Ning Yang have presented lectures and visited with the department by meeting with faculty and holding informal discussions with graduate students.

Penn State's research program has been expanding rapidly. Here are some comparative statistics with other top-ranked departments from the period 1997 to 1999. Checking the 2001 numbers, Penn State's NSF DMR funding has increased a further 25 percent above the 1999 amount.

Institution Change in NSF Funding
1997 to 1999
Penn State +23% +64%
Caltech +4% -57%
Cornell University +10% Flat
Florida State University -1% -8%
Harvard -8% -11%
MIT -1% +8%
Ohio State -40% +49%
Northwestern Flat NA
Princeton -12% +28%
Stanford -26% +18%
U Chicago +8% -3%
U Illinois -13% +6%
U Maryland +25% -27%
U Pennsylvania -20% -47%
U Wisconsin, Madison -9% -11%
UC Berkeley +4% +15%
UC Santa Barbara -24% +15%
UT Austin -15% -6%

DMR = Division of Materials Research, the primary funding arm for condensed matter physics.

PHY = Physics, the primary funding arm for non-condensed matter physics.

Penn State University has had more active DMR grants than any other university in the US in each of 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Penn State's 1999 NSF DMR funding exceeds that of UC Berkeley, Caltech, Harvard, U Chicago, SUNY Stony Brook, and Ohio State.

In 1999, Penn State University had more active PHY grants than U Chicago, Stanford, Princeton, U Illinois, UC Santa Barbara, and Harvard. Penn State's 1999 NSF PHY funding exceeds that of MIT, UC Berkeley, UT Austin, U Wisconsin, and Ohio State.


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