Graduate Programs

UAF is home to the Geophysical Institute which was initially established in 1946 in order to understand how the aurora borealis affects military radar technology. Since then it has become a globally recognized research institution and is a huge contributor of mapping, data, and satellite imagery. The GI is one of many institutions that relies heavily on recruiting graduates from our M.S. and Ph.D. programs.  Our graduate programs are designed to provide you with a an exemplary education, research, and career opportunities. Whether you are a prospective or current student, this is where you will find valuable information about:

      • Our graduate level degree programs
      • Application requirements and deadlines
      • Resources for international students
      • Information on assistantships
      • Guidance and deadlines for thesis submission and graduation
Northern Lights all green
Master of Science

We offer three different Master of Science tracks:

  • M.S. Physics
  • M.S. Physics with a concentration in Computational Physics
  • M.S. Physics with a concentration in Space Physics
Each degree program offers exciting research opportunities with dedicated and highly experienced faculty.

Doctor of Philosophy

If space physics is your thing, you'll be excited to know that Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see and study the northern lights and is home to the Poker Flats rocket research range. We offer two incredible PhD programs to suit your interests.

Application Information, Requirements & Deadlines

Our graduate level physics programs are challenging, rewarding, and will set you up for a successful future. The University of Alaska Fairbanks neighbors and works alongside the world renowned Geophysical Institute which is a key player in our global mission to better understand our atmosphere, planet, and beyond. Come study amongst the best! Apply today!

  • Undergraduate degree in Physics with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. If you do not meet this requirement, please contact us and explain why we should still consider your application. 
  • Complete and pay online graduate school application
    • Resume
    • Statement of Goals
    • Unofficial or official transcripts
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Application fee: $75
    • Upload necessary documents to application portal
  • The Department of Physics is currently waiving the GRE requirement through Fall 2023.
  • Each of your references will be asked to fill out an additional external review form that seeks to better understand you (the applicant) beyond what is traditionally provided in a letter of recommendation. We need to receive at least two of the three external reviews before your application can be considered complete. 
  • You may provide unofficial transcripts when you initially apply. If accepted to a program, official transcript(s) will be required.
  • The same requirements for domestic students
    • Complete online application and pay fee of $75
    • Resume
    • Statement of Goals
    • Unofficial or official transcripts
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • 3 external reviews from your references
  • Plus:
    • Official diploma(s)
    • Citizenship document such as your passport
    • International Evaluation of Credits from WES, ECE or another NACES approved service
    • Proof of English proficiency
      • TOEFL
        • minimum score of 79
      • IELTS
        • minimum score of 6.5
      • Duolingo only if TOEFL and IELTS are not available in your home country.
      • Or proof of passing grade in a 100 level English or writing course. If your undergraduate degree was completed in the U.S. we will usually waive the need for an English proficiency test.


  • We only accept applications for fall term admission
  • Deadline to apply: March 1
  • The deadline is March 1 so that you will have enough time to complete all visa requirements before attending.
  • Domestic students: March 1
  • International students: March 1
  • Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received. Applications received after the March 1 deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Assistantships and Funding

Research and teaching assistant positions are available to incoming and current graduate students. Most graduate students work as a teaching assistant (TA) for at least their first year in the program. After the first year, students are expected to be supported by a research assistantship which are usually funded from research grants held by individual faculty members. It is the student’s responsibility to seek out a faculty mentor with a research project that interests you. 

Assistantships are paid a monetary stipend through the academic year, up to a 10 credit tuition waiver, and include basic health insurance. Graduate students are paid on a scale depending on their education background. Additionally, teaching and research assistants cannot work more than 20 hours per week

International students are restricted by their visa and can only work for the University while living here. Many international students RA or find alternative seasonal work on campus during summer months. Both domestic and international students can work a 40 hour work week during the summer. There are no summer term teaching assistantship positions through the Department of Physics. 

Current Students - Your Guide to Earning a Graduate Degree

  • Appointment of Advisory Committee
  • Graduate Study Plan
    • Graduate Study Plan Form
    • Objective: To outline your course plan and show that it meets the requirements of your degree
    • Due by the end of your second semester
  • Report of Advisory Committee
    • Report of Advisory Committee Form
    • Objective: To report on your progress throughout your degree program and receive direction or advice from your committee and/or advisor. This form needs to be completed every year until degree completion.
    • For students admitted during fall and summer terms: Due May 15
    • For students admitted during spring terms: Due December 15
    • Extensions can be requested
  • Report of Advisory Committee
    • This form is to be completed every year until degree completion.
    • This form will route twice to the student. 
    • Due May 15 for students admitted in a summer or fall term
    • Due December 15 for students admitted in a spring term.
  • Report on Comprehensive Exam
    • Required for qualifying exams and/or programs with written or oral comprehensive exams
    • Due within 10 days of the exam's completion.
  • Advancement to Candidacy
    • Due at least 1 semester before graduation. 
    • PhD students must pass their comprehensive exam before submitting the form. 
  • Dissertation/thesis/project Defense guidelines
    • Defense guidelines
    • Must be in 3 graduate level credits in the semester that you defend.
    • You must defend no later than the last working day before the first day of classes in your graduating term. 
    • If you want to graduate in the semester after your defense you will need to register for a 1 credit graduate level course. 
    • An announcement of your defense should be sent to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks before you defend. 
    • You may submit your Public Defense Announcement to the Graduate School using this form: Graduate Forms Page
    • Submit a Report of Defense to the Graduate School within 10 days of completion. 
  • Request for Outside Examiner
    • Required for all PhD student oral comprehensive exams and PhD dissertation defenses.
    • The request must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 10 working days prior to the exam or 15 if exam or defense occurs during summer break.