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Department Information

The Physics Department at SMU is looking for talented people who have a passion for physics and are prepared to seek a Ph.D. in frontiers such as particle physics and the search of dark matter. Our department provides an intellectually stimulating research environment where our graduate students can participate in and make substantive contributions to frontier research projects. The research projects provide opportunities to work in leading particle physics laboratories: CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, Fermilab near Chicago and the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota.

We have an excellent faculty-student ratio, and an established history of training exceptional students; our recent Ph.D. graduates took prestigious postdoc positions with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California, Caltech, the Fermi National Laboratory, and the University of Barcelona in Spain.  All of our experimental faculty members have federal support for their research, and this enables us to fund RA positions and allow students to travel to topical conferences and workshops.

Degrees Offered

Explore our Physics Ph.D. Program

Visit our Departmental Website

Southern Methodist University Research

The Physics Ph.D. program has the goal of maximizing your knowledge in a chosen specialization and preparing you for research and a future career in academia and/or private industry.

The Theoretical Side of Physics

The Theoretical Side of Physics


Our department includes the following specialties in theoretical particle physics and theoretical astrophysics:

  • Elementary particle interactions at the Large Hadron Collider

  • Internal structure of proton and other hadrons

  • Properties of Higgs bosons, dark matter, exotic particles

  • Cosmology: origin, evolution, and structure of the universe

The Experimental Side of Physics

The Experimental Side of Physics


Graduate students can participate in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, NOvA at Fermilab, and SuperCDMS at the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota.

  • The experimental group has a substantial role in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. We are involved in the construction, commissioning, and operations of the Liquid Argon electromagnetic calorimeter and its associated electronics. In 2015, the experiment went through an upgrade to operate at higher energy and provide opportunities to measure the newly discovered Higgs boson and to discover new physics.  In Dallas, we work on the development of data analysis software. We also have the optoelectronics lab in which we develop ASICs and optical link systems that are in leading positions in experimental particle physics.

  • The group is an inaugural member of NOvA, a long baseline neutrino experiment based at Fermilab and that laboratory’s flagship experiment. NOvA will measure various fundamental neutrino oscillation parameters as well as look for CP violation in the neutral lepton sector, possibly related to the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. Working on-site at Fermilab is encouraged.

  • The group is a member of the SuperCDMS Dark Matter experiment, which uses novel low-temperature devices to search for signals from Dark Matter particles.

  • Experimental graduate students working in collider physics typically are in residence in Dallas for the first 2 or 3 years, and then may relocate to the experiment site to finish their degree.

Admission Requirements

Applications for admission to our graduate program must include the following to receive consideration:

  • Transcripts of your college/university education.
  • GRE general and subject (physics) exam scores. The Physics GRE is only offered periodically, so please plan ahead.
  • When applicable, your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • A personal statement describing your interests and goals, as well as any relevant past experience.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit smu.edu/graduate. To start your application, visit smu.edu/gradapp.

Deadlines for Admission

  • Priority deadline for Fall admission is December 15.
  • Standard deadline for Fall admission is January 15.

Departmental Assistantships

We offer Teaching and Research Assistantships (TA and RA) to qualified candidates. We begin consideration of applications on January 15 and make awards in March. Strongest applicants are nominated for increased university fellowships, provided their applications are completed by the priority deadline of  December 15.  

Note: Applications received after January 15 will be considered for any remaining funds and openings.



Exploring the Universe: A Guide to Studying Physics at Southern Methodist University




Degree Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program benefit from small classes, accessible faculty and research staff, and a wide range of opportunities for research in experimental and theoretical high-energy research programs. Many students begin research projects during their first year. All students in good standing receive teaching or research stipends during the academic year, along with tuition waivers. Summer support is also available. Excellent applicants to the program may also be eligible for the SMU University-wide Fellowship, which is a university-wide competitive fellowship program that awards graduate students with an additional amount of stipend on top of their base stipend from the department. The department can nominate up to two applicants per year for this competitive fellowship. 

Students typically receive support for work as teaching assistants during their first two years, and, after successful completion of the Ph.D. core proficiency, research support until completion of their thesis and degree. 

For more specific information on course requirements, visit catalog.smu.edu.

The emphasis of our graduate program is on the Ph.D. degree, and we only accept students for that program. However, students may earn an M.S. degree en route to their Ph.D. The requirements for a Master’s degree in Physics can be found in the university catalog: catalog.smu.edu.



Ph.D. student Biao Wang helped to maintain the Near Detector of the NOvA neutrino oscillation experiment at Fermilab. He earned his degree in 2017 studying novel properties of the neutrino. Now, Wang works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Alabama.


Do not hesitate to contact your program of interest with any questions you might have!



Want to learn more about SMU’s graduate program in Physics?

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