Physics

Graduate Programs

Admission to UAF graduate programs in physics, computational physics, or space physics requires a bachelor's degree in physics or a related field. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, or equivalent for foreign students, is also required. Applications from students that do not meet this requirement must contain a very specific statement as to why the application should be reviewed.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants as one part of the overall assessment of an applicant's suitability for admission. No minimum score is specified by the department. The GRE subject test in physics is not mandatory but highly recommended. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required for all foreign students to demonstrate proficiency in English. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score for admission by UAF is 550 (paper exam) or 213 (computer exam) or 80 (internet-based exam). The school code for the University of Alaska Fairbanks is 4866.

UAF deadlines for submission of complete applications for fall semester are March 1 for international students and June 1 for US citizens. The Physics Department encourages early applications as each file is reviewed as soon as the required materials have been received and decisions on admission and funding can be made quickly.

The Physics Department generally does not accept students for spring semester due to scheduling of graduate courses, but students demonstrating advanced preparation are given serious consideration. The UAF deadlines for spring-semester admission are September 1 for international students and October 15 for US citizens.

Documents required for your application and to proceed to “Department Review” include:
1. On-line application form
2. OFFICIAL Transcipts
3. GRE and TOEFL scores - TOEFL is required for all international applications.
4. Resume outlining prior work history
5. Statement of academic goals - 2 - 3 paragraphs saying why you want to attend UAF and what you wish to accomplish with your degree.
6. Three (3) Letters of recommendation

Questions? Please contact us : UAF Physics Department, PO Box 755920, Fairbanks, AK 99775-5920, telephone (907) 474-7339   or send e-mail to: physics@uaf.edu

Graduate Assistantships

Research and teaching assistantships are available for graduate students seeking M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics, Computational Physics, and Space Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  The current stipend(s) for a Teaching Assistantship during the academic year are under 3 degree-holding criterias that a graduate student would have entering into our 1st year program: (In addition to monetary stipend, Physics Department also pays up to 10 credits tuition waiver and a basic student medical insurance.)

  Bachelor Degree-holding:$17,987.30 annually/ $946.70 biwkly

  Master Degree-holding:$19,369.17 annually/ $1,019.43 biwkly

  Ph.D Exam Passed:$20,845.66 annually/ $1,097.14 biwkly

Summer employment is depending whether you are selected as a Teaching Assistant for one of our courses selected for Summer Sessions and you are paid through the Summer Sessions and salary is based on enrollment numbers. Other summer employment may be research which is agreed upon faculty/researcher and/or your advisor. 

The teaching assistantship is only for the academic year. If you are a new graduate student, you would usually start the third Sunday in August and ending the second Saturday in May. This would involve orientation training not only for the Physics Department but also for orientation/workshop instituted by the Graduate School.

After your first academic year in our program, you are expected to be supported by a research assistantship (RA) possibly starting in the summer.  It is your responsibility during that academic year to seek a faculty mentor with a research project that interests you.  Research assistantships are usually funded from research grants held by individual faculty members.  If a professor agrees to serve as your committee chair and he/she have the funds, you will be furnished with a research assistantship both during the summer and the academic year.

Research areas include experimental and theoretical studies in auroral physics, complex systems, computational physics, nonlinear dynamics, radio physics, and space plasma physics. 

Programs and Broad Objectives

The Department of Physics offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics, Space Physics, Computational Physics and Interdisciplinary Studies. Much of the research in the space and atmospheric sciences is conducted through the Geophysical Institute and the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) which provides a wide range of facilities and technical support.


The broad objectives of the Space Physics program are to understand the physical environment from the upper atmosphere to the sun. Our interest in Space Physics stems from the fact that Fairbanks is unique among American cities in that it is located in the auroral zone where the Earth's magnetic field lines provide a view into the outer reaches of the Earth's magnetosphere. Theoretical research in Space Physics focuses on space plasma physics, in which numerical simulation plays a major role. On the experimental side, we are proud to be the only University in the world with its own rocket range. Our own use of the range has been to conduct plasma injection in experiments in space, both as a diagnostic for processes responsible for the aurora and as a means of doing basic plasma physics. We also have a number of experimental projects involving low-light-level imaging and spectroscopic observations of the aurora and airglow. In addition to local observatories, we conduct campaigns in the Antarctic, Greenland and Europe. Another facet of our space physics program is the coordinated analysis of satellite observations, solar data and data from ground-based magnetic observatories. Our work often involves extensive collaboration with scientists from other universities and national and international agencies.

The Arctic Regions Supercomputing Center (ARSC) provides a major tool for research carried out by Physics Department faculty and students. The ARSC operates 128-multi-streaming processor (MSP) Cray X1 with 512 GB of memory and 21 terabytes of disk. The X1, named Klondike, has a theoretical peak performance of 1.6 teraflops (trillion flaoting point operations per second). In addition, the center also supports iceberg, which is comprised of a combination of IBM Power4 p 690+ and p655 servers. The p690+ servers each have 256 gigabytes of memory and the p655+ servers each have 16 gigabytes of memory. The entire system has 25 terabytes of disk and a theoretical peak performance of five teraflops. ARSC resources also include two StorageTek robotic tape silos capable of storing up to a petabyte of data. Supporting equipment for scientific visualization is also available.

Our course offerings include the traditional graduate-level physics courses supplemented by courses in plasma physics, fluid dynamics, radiative transfer, numerical simulation, signal processing, as well as topical courses on aeronomy, and magnetospheric physics. Although our research focus is on our high-latitude location, our graduates have the background in and the versatility to apply their experience to a variety of fundamental and applied problems. They have had good success in finding responsible positions in academic, governmental and industrial settings. The program is rigorous and demanding, but we work in an informal atmosphere and in a spirit of camaraderie.


PGSA (Physics Graduate Student Association)

Graduate Student, Patrick Wallace (photo taken by Joshua Straub)

Graduate Students volunteer to do demos as outreach services to not only elementary children but high school students as well to bring their interests up in sciences.