The graduate program in the Department of Physics leads to the Ph.D. degree. Typically, about 60 full-time graduate students from all over the world (map) are enrolled. Many of our students begin the program immediately following their undergraduate programs; others come to us with M.S. already in hand.
The ultimate mission of all physics research is to understand the fundamental origin and the mathematical description of physical phenomena. Faculty research is an essential ingredient in sustaining excellence in teaching. Faculty members carry out experimental and theoretical research in many subfields, and the results are communicated in refereed journals, in conferences and seminars, and in books. Much of the research is funded by federal grants. The active participation of graduate students in research is integral to these efforts and is a major component of their education. All our graduate students learn to conduct original scientific research in physics.
We have affiliated efforts in accelerator physics (in cooperation with Jefferson Lab) and materials characterization (in cooperation with NASA-Langley Research Center). The Physics Department maintains strong links with the W&M Applied Science Department and students can work on projects there as well.