[ skip to content ]

Department of PhysicsGraduate Program

The Department of Physics offers graduate programs leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics and the Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics. For the Ph.D. Degree an endorsement in Applied Physics is also offered.

The doctoral and masters program provides broad curricular instruction in classical and modern physics. The Ph.D. Degree further requires intensive training in one of several specialty areas of the Physics Department faculty.

Mentoring of each student by a faculty member, and additional guidance provided through an individualized thesis committee, leads to a dissertation describing original research in a frontier area of physics.

Students are further encouraged to develop specialized skills in other areas, such as oral and written communication, computational physics, and computer programming. Practical and course work in applied physics areas are available to further enhance student training, providing a broad base of technical skills beyond their specialty.

The Master of Science Degree is offered through a thesis or a nonthesis option. In each option, advanced course work provides a base of physics training beyond typical undergraduate instruction. In the thesis option, less course work is required of a student, but they must complete a thesis describing advanced laboratory or computational research. The depth and scope of the thesis is naturally less than that of the dissertation, but provides an opportunity for student contribution to an original research project.

Employment opportunities for graduates have been found in industry, government laboratories, and academia. Many obtaining the M.S. Degree in Physics also work in industrial settings, in teaching, and in federal laboratories.

Admission to Graduate Study

Information necessary to apply for admission to the Physics degree programs at Old Dominion University may be obtained from Dr. Mark Havey, Graduate Recruitment and Admissions Chair, Department of Physics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Requirements & Criteria

Applicants for admission to graduate study are required to have an earned bachelor's degree in physics, or a closely related discipline, from an accredited institution or an equivalent degree from a foreign institution. The applicant is normally required to have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. In addition, the general tests of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required, and potential applicants are strongly encouraged to take the specialized physics test.

Admission to the University is contingent upon successful completion of English language proficiency requirements. Non-native speakers of English can provide evidence of English language proficiency through a variety of options. Bridge Program students, undergraduate and graduate, must satisfy English proficiency requirements within twelve months from their enrollment in the program. Admission to the English Language Center (ELC) and subsequent enrollment in non-credit English language courses at the ELC does not imply University admission or course credit.

Graduate applicants who are non-native speakers of English must provide evidence of English language proficiency through fulfillment of one of the following:

  1. Submission of one of the following English proficiency test scores: TOEFL iBT of 79 (550 paper based); IELTS overall band of 6.5; GRE Verbal Reasoning of 152, a GCSE or GCE score of "O" level pass in English; CPE grade of A, B, C.
  2. Possession of a Bachelor's or Master's degree equivalent from an accredited institution located in a country where English is the native language.
  3. Successful completion of two university or college level English courses at a regionally accredited U.S. institution. These courses must be equivalent to the University's English composition course or other courses in advanced composition or technical writing. Successful completion is defined as obtaining a minimum grade of C (2.00) in each course.
  4. Successful completion of the Graduate Bridge Program.

Graduate students who choose to satisfy English language proficiency requirements through the on-campus English Language Center will be placed according to the following criteria:

  1. Students with a TOEFL iBT score below 61 (below 500 paper-based) will be placed in the Full-time, intensive English language program.
  2. Students with a TOEFL iBT score falling between 61-78 (paper-based score of 500, but below 550) will be placed in the comprehensive Graduate Bridge Program, to include academic course work (one graduate course) and semi-intensive English language courses (seven hours). Students will be considered as having satisfied English language requirements when they have successfully completed two semesters in this program. Attendance in the seven-week Summer Graduate Bridge Program can count as one semester. Successful completion is defined as a minimum grade of B in both each graduate academic course and English language course. No student will receive a grade of A or B in an English language course without demonstrating 85% attendance.

We support most incoming graduate students as teaching assistants. Non-native speakers of English who anticipate holding a teaching assistantship position must provide evidence of oral English proficiency. They may take the Test of Spoken English (TSE), given by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at sites around the world, or the ETS SPEAK Test, administered by the English Language Center at Old Dominion University. Graduate teaching assistants who fail to pass either of these tests will not be eligible to assume an instructional position.

Admission decisions are based on undergraduate achievement, GRE scores, and personal reference letters. Graduate study may commence at the beginning of any academic term; decisions for fall term admission are normally made by April 15. It is therefore important to have your completed application in our hands by January 15 as financial aid is limited. If you wish to apply after this date, please contact us concerning the availability of support.


There are three ways to apply for admission to the Graduate Programs in Physics at Old Dominion University:

  1. An application form can be obtained by mail from the Office of Graduate Admissions, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0050, telephone: (757) 683-3638, FAX: (757) 683-3255, email: admit@shawnee.oa.odu.edu. The completed application form must be accompanied by a $40 application fee.
  2. Online applications and application forms are also available on the Web. There is only one set of forms for both domestic and international applicants. If you do not wish to apply online, then you should print the forms, fill them in and return the application and other required documentation to the address indicated in the instructions. The completed application form must be accompanied by the application fee. Since this can be an substantial burden for some international students, if you can not send this fee, send the completed application forms and associated material to Dr. Havey at the address given above. Applications sent to the Admissions office or the International Student office without the application fee will not be processed.
  3. An application form can be obtained directly from the Physics Department on request by either surface mail, or by email. In your request, please send as much relevant information as possible. This will help us to pay special attention to your application and expedite our evaluation of your application.

If you send your application directly to the admissions offices, please let us know that you have done so by email so that we can track your application and assure that it does not get lost.

Financial Aid

Nearly all students admitted to full-time graduate study within the Physics Department receive full financial support during the time of their graduate study. For incoming students, support is normally in the form of teaching assistantships or fellowships, while more advanced students usually obtain research assistantships or special competitive fellowships. All full-time graduate students also receive waiver of tuition for courses required in connection with their graduate study. The level of graduate support begins at $23,700 per annum This includes support for research during the summer semester.