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Physics & Astronomy

1000 E. University, Dept 3905

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6150

Fax: 307-766-2652


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Physics & Astronomy

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Course Offerings Fall 2024-Spring 2026

Graduate Degree Programs

The graduate PhD program in Physics & Astronomy is a small, personal, yet challenging environment where graduate students will receive advanced instruction and guidance to grow as independent research scientists while using unique research facilities in astronomy and physics. The strengths of the program lie in a faculty committed to excellence in instruction and individual mentoring.

Unique research facilities include Wyoming's own 2.3 meter telescope, the largest solely owned and used by a single university, on nearby 9656 ft. Jelm Mountain, a share of the 8.5 m Apache Point observatory, the 0.6 m Red Buttes Observatory, several experimental condensed matter physics laboratories, and the new National Center for Atmospheric Research Supercomputer.  WIRO is the largest optical telescope in the world owned by a single institution; our astronomy graduate students have the opportunity to carry out substantial observational thesis projects.

The physics & astronomy graduate program is designed to help students mature as research scientists and as professional teachers.  We formally offer a PhD in physics with concentrations in astronomy, solid state physics, and materials science.  The latter program brings together researchers with a materials science and engineering related focus, promoting wider collaboration and enhancing educational experiences. More information can be found here.

Specialities in sold-state physics, using both theoretical and experimental approaches, include: quantum dot sensitized solar cells, magnetic transport, heat transport in nanostructures, fast quantum nonequilibrium processes of electron transfer in solar cells, as well as spintronics.  Specialties in astronomy, using space-based and ground-based observations as well as computational approaches, include: galaxies, active galaxies and quasars, observational cosmology, planet formation and exoplanets, star-forming regions and massive binary stars.

We also offer a Master's in Physics and Science Teaching. The Science Teaching program prepares future educators to teach at the high school or college level.

The Department may choose to accept self-funded master's students to pursue a plan B (coursework only) masters degree in Physics & Astronomy. The masters requires 30 hours of formal graded coursework beyond the bachelors. The master's degree may involve all PHYS 5000-level coursework or may include an emphasis in astronomy.  In the latter case, the coursework must include three PHYS 5xxx courses (approx. 12 hours) and the remainder may be ASTR 5xxx courses. Unlike the Ph.D. program, for students admitted to the M.S. program, there is no expectation of GA support, no expectation of research involvement, and no expectation of office space.  Students who are in a M.S. only degree may apply for admission for the PhD program and will be considered on the same criteria as all other applicants. In this case students will be required to take the qualifying exam as per the PhD. requirement.

More details on all of our doctorate and master's programs can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook, the authoritative source with all the requirements for our students. 


How to Apply

Resources to help prepare your grad school application

Application deadline for 2025 is January 16, 2025.

We will begin to review applications in January, 2024. Students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and countries of origin are encouraged to apply.

Applications should include:

-Resume or CV

-Undergraduate transcript

-A Personal Statement that says why you want to pursue a PhD, why Wyoming is a good fit for you, and what experiences you've previously had completing long-term projects. This can also include any additional information that demonstrates a diverse background or having had to overcome a significant adversity

-GRE scores: both the general and the physics subject exams are optional.  Reporting or not reporting the general exam will have no impact on your application, and reporting the physics subject exam is recommended.

-TOEFL for non-native English speakers. Duolingo: Until further notice, due to COVID-19 related postponements/cancellations of TOEFL/IELTS exams, we will be accepting Duolingo scores or 110 or higher as proof of English proficiency

-Three letters of recommendation. This will be done through the application website.

Many programs no longer require GREs, and we don't either. However, there are cases where an applicant should consider using GRE scores as a piece of evidence in their favor.

                                               Apply here. 

Please be prepared to upload everything listed above.

Our department does not have minimal acceptable scores for standardized tests (e.g. general and subject GREs, TOEFL) and will review all applications on their total merits. 

International students from non-English speaking countries seeking Graduate Teaching Assistant positions are expected to pass the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) (Advanced Low or higher is considered passing) before Aug. 1 (for Fall enrollment) or before Jan. 1 (for Spring enrollment).

We normally expect to provide financial support to all of our admitted PhD students through graduate assistantships, for teaching or conducting research with funded faculty members, assuming satisfactory progress.

For additional information, please check our FAQ page.  If you still have questions, please feel welcome to email or call our Directors of Graduate Admissions:

Physics:  Professor TeYu Chien (

Astronomy:  Professor Mike Pierce (

 new_cal-bridge_logo.jpgWe are a partner of the Cal-Bridge Partner program,

which is designed to create partnerships between the Cal-Bridge program and PhD programs in physics and/or astronomy that seek to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for Cal-Bridge scholars to pursue their PhD.

If you are a Cal-Bridge applicant, we encourage you to apply and please contact the Director of Graduate Admissions for your program for further information.

Useful Links:


Academic Affairs, Graduate Education:


Additional Information:

Additional Funding Opportunities

While students are usually supported as Teaching Assistants during their first two years, and Research Assistants when their advisors have appropriate grant funds, there are other funding opportunities available. 

U.S. students in our department often find support through NASA Wyoming Space Grant Fellowships. NASA Wyoming Space Grant is also a source of support for funds to attend science meetings.

Both the Office of Academic Affairs and School of Energy Resources (SER) support graduate students studying problems involving energy research.  The programs are intended to provide investigators and graduate students support to study topics spanning basic energy research, technology innovation in energy development, energy conversion, reclamation, and mitigation of environmental impacts associated with energy development.

Visit Us

We invite prospective students to tour our campus and facilities here in Wyoming. We are happy to offer $200 to help defray expenses for anyone interested in pursuing a graduate degree in our department and visiting us on campus here in Laramie (email request to Laramie's location at 7,200 ft. elevation near the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains provides excellent recreational opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, climbing, skiing, and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the "mountain west" all within a short drive. Its location gives Laramie a unique cultural flavor, combining elements of the rugged rural west with the cosmopolitan aspects of an intellectual center. With a population of just over 30,000 and 11,000 students, Laramie is a comfortable, friendly town having all the perks of a vibrant university community yet with a low cost-of-living. By car, Laramie is approximately 135 miles north of Denver, and 60 miles north of Fort Collins, Colorado.  

Department of Physics and Astronomy Videos

Contact Us

Physics & Astronomy

1000 E. University, Dept 3905

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6150

Fax: 307-766-2652


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