PHYSICS m.s.|pH.D.

Our research program is highly interdisciplinary, which allows us to focus on both established research areas such as condensed matter physics; atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics; astrophysics; and statistical physics and nanoscience, while pursuing emerging fields such as soft matter, metamaterials, quantum information, renewable energy and biophysics.

The researchers in our group have access to excellent core facilities on campus, including ultra-fast laser systems, computing clusters, a state-of-the-art electron microscopy facility, a nanofabrication facility and NMR. Other large facilities, such as the synchrotron light sources at Stanford and Berkeley, and the UC Lick Observatory, are a short drive away and are routinely used by our students and faculty members. We also have extensive collaborations with nearby institutions, including Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and other UC campuses.

research areas

  • Astrophysics: Observational -- strong gravitational lensing constraints of dark matter, low-mass galaxy formation and evolution; Computational -- galaxy evolution, dark matter, and chemo-dynamics in the Local Universe, using high-resolution galaxy simulations, survey data and Big Data
  • Experimental condensed matter: optoelectronic and photovoltaic materials, quantum sensing, nanoscience, metamaterials, strongly correlated systems, and magneto-optical phenomena
  • Theoretical condensed matter and atomic physics: optoelectronic and photovoltaic materials, superfluids, superconductivity, ultra-cold atoms, quantum optics, quantum computing, and nanomechanics
  • Experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics: photonic and electronic quantum information systems, ultrafast lasers
  • Experimental biophysics and soft matter: single-molecule biophysics, molecular motors, bacterial motility, biomaterials, biopolymers, soft nanocomposites, active matter, liquid crystals, mechanical metamaterials, colloids and complex fluids
  • Theoretical biophysics and soft matter: intrinsically disordered proteins, mechanobiology, intracellular transport, collective cellular motility, active matter, liquid crystals, fluids, self-organization and self-assembly
  • Theoretical statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics: non-equilibrium systems, swarming, chaos
  • Thermodynamically efficient solar energy conversion: non-imaging optics, energy materials

PHYSICS at uc merced

UC Merced offers a unique academic atmosphere that fosters interdisciplinary research — connecting physical sciences research to life sciences, chemistry and engineering. Our graduate students can pursue doctoral degrees while working on a broad range of research topics.

application information


December 15, 2021 (priority deadline, for guaranteed review)


January 15, 2022 (late applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis if space is available)


The general GRE and physics GRE are not required and not expected. Applicants may choose to submit their scores if they wish.

Note: While the M.S. is offered, admission normally is granted only to students who intend to pursue a Ph.D.



All doctoral students in good standing are guaranteed five years of full financial support, including payment of fees and tuition. Teaching assistantships normally provide initial funding that can be supplemented by research assistantships, fellowships or other forms of financial assistance including travel awards. Application fee waivers are available in cases of financial need, upon request.