PhD Requirements

The training of a medical physicist must be broad. To participate successfully in this interdisciplinary profession, he or she must be thoroughly competent in physical and mathematical science, must understand biological and physiological systems, and must be able to understand and speak the language of physicians. The Department of Radiology and the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology together offer a program that provides aspiring medical physicists with the knowledge required to succeed in their future profession.

The University of Chicago academic year consists of four quarters. A full-time graduate program includes three courses each quarter. Graduate students in medical physics normally begin the program in the Autumn Quarter and are in residence throughout the academic year.

Students working toward a graduate degree in medical physics normally will be expected to have completed training equivalent to that required for a Bachelor's degree in physics prior to admission.

The medical physicist working at the Ph.D. level in the interdisciplinary area of physics and medicine must thoroughly understand basic physical phenomena, must have sufficient knowledge of biological systems to be able to apply physical concepts and principles, and must be able to communicate his or her ideas to others.

The University of Chicago - with outstanding departments of physical, mathematical, and biological sciences and with a medical school intensely motivated toward research - offers a particularly favorable climate for the student who seeks this training. The candidate for the Ph.D. may elect to do his or her research in the Department of Radiology, in the Department of Radiation & Cellular Oncology, or in any other department in which physical phenomena have a direct application to medicine, including areas such as audiology, cardiology, neurology, and ophthalmology.

The Ph.D. is expected to take five or six years of study, during which time the following requirements must be met:

  1. Satisfactory completion of the course requirements with an average grade of "B" or higher and no grade lower than "C".
  2. At the end of the first academic year, the student will take a written and oral Qualifying Comprehensive Examination covering the material of the courses studied up to that time in addition to basic undergraduate physics. The student should demonstrate both competency in medical physics and the ability to think through a posed situation.
  3. Preparation of a written Dissertation Research Proposal acceptable to the faculty.
  4. Completion of a dissertation based on original research that is satisfactory to the Committee. The dissertation will be judged on the basis of its contribution to knowledge in its field and its suitability for publication.
  5. Passage of an oral Final Examination on the area of specialty and the dissertation.

Course Requirements

Course requirements for Ph.D. students in the Graduate Program in Medical Physics include passage of at least 13 quarter courses with a "B" average and with no grade lower than "C". These must include the twelve (12) basic required courses and one (1) elective course. The elective course must be approved by the student's GPMP advisor. First-year students are expected to complete 4 research rotations during their first 4 quarters, enabling them to be registered as a full-time students and giving them exposure to different topics in medical physics.

In addition to the requirements of the Program, students need to meet the requirements of the Biological Sciences Division. All GPMP students must fulfill the evaluated teaching requirement of the Biological Sciences Division. This can be done by successfully completing two teaching assistantships [which cannot be in the same course] or by successfully completing one teaching assistantship and the TA training course offered by the Division. In addition, all students must take the non-credit ethics course offered by the Division and the non-credit ethics course offered by the Program.

Students entering the program with a Master's degree will have the one elective course waived (with credit).