WELCOME to the Chemical Physics Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Scientific research in the twenty-first century is increasingly interdisciplinary, and the most exciting problems are often found along the boundaries and intersections of traditional fields. Our highly selective program provides its graduate students with a rigorous academic foundation, unsurpassed research opportunities, and preparation for careers that require expertise in both physics and chemistry. The program offers Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Physics. We welcome students with undergraduate degrees in chemistry or physics as well as those with related majors such as mathematics or engineering, and strong backgrounds in chemistry and physics.

Our students carry out their thesis research with University of Maryland faculty drawn from numerous departments - including Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Materials Science Engineering, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, among others. Additionally, students have the opportunity to pursue their research with scientists at the National Insitute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the joint supervision of Maryland faculty.

The Chemical Physics Program at the University of Maryland is an M.S. and Ph.D. granting program that combines rigorous graduate academic training in chemistry and physics with a wide range of Ph.D. research opportunities at the University, as well as the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There are more than 100 Chemical Physics participating faculty from seven different academic departments and two research institutes as well as several associated scientists from NIST and NIH. The members of the program and their research are listed under Faculty.

Students enter the Chemical Physics Program with a variety of background interests and experiences. While many have undergraduate degrees in physics, others have degrees in chemistry, mathematics and engineering. Typical enrollment is approximately 35 full-time Ph.D. students. Faculty actively assist students with course selection, Qualifying Examination preparation, and choice of research group. This is reflected in the high retention and graduation rates and average time-to-degree of five years.

The requirements for the Ph.D. degree include a pass of the Qualifying Examination, an advanced laboratory course, an advanced course at the 600 level or above, two seminar credits, a scholarly paper and oral presentation, a written Ph.D. thesis and oral thesis defense. While there are no additional course requirements, enrollment in graduate courses in quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and quantum chemistry is generally necessary to prepare for the Qualifying Examination.

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Click here for details on new Advanced Lab Course, "Photon Correlation Spectroscopy of Soft Matter.

Learn more about our program by browsing our web pages. If you think the Chemical Physics Program offers academic and research opportunities that are right for you, please feel free to contact us.

             Michael Coplan, Director and Professor
             coplan [at]

             Christopher Jarzynski, Associate Director and Professor
             cjarzyns [at]

             Debbie Jenkins, Program Coordinator
             dajenkin [at]

Yu Huang Wang receives NSF CAREER Award. The U.S. National Science Foundation has granted a prestigious CAREER award to Professor Yu Huang Wang, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to fund his proposal “Outerwall-selectively Functionalized Double-Wall Carbon Nanotubes—Optical and Electrical Properties of Semiconducting Nanotubes in a Multifunctional Carbon Shell”. The award, announced January 25, 2011, is for $585,000 over five years.

Click here to learn more about Professor Wang’s research.

Michael Fisher elected Life Member of the International Board of Trustees of the Weizmann Institute. On November 8, 2010, at the 62nd Annual General Meeting of the International Board of Trustees of the Weizmann Institute, Professor Michael Fisher, of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Physics, was elected as a Life Member of the International Board of Trustees, and re-elected to the Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee for a three-year term. The Weizmann Institute, located in Revohot, Israel, is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research centers.

Dave Thirumalai named "Distinguished University Professor. Devarajan (Dave) Thirumalai, the Institute for Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, was awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor by University of Maryland College Park President C.D. Mote, Jr. on July 1, 2010. This is the highest academic honor that the university confers upon a faculty member and is reserved for a small number of exceptionally distinguished scholars. It recognizes his work in the area of biophysics and the application of theoretical techniques to chemistry and biology.

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The University of Maryland is located within ten miles of downtown Washington, DC and its array of parks, sports, theater, restaurants and nightlife. The Washington area is an international destination with a diverse and vibrant population and culture. Students who board the Metro at the College Park station are just a few stops from the city’s famous Mall and its museums, as well as lively districts such as the U Street Corridor, Adams Morgan and Georgetown. The nearby Amtrak train station at New Carrollton, Maryland provides connections to cities along the East Coast including Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The Chesapeake Bay, beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, and Shenandoah National Park in the Appalachian Mountains are all easy day trips from College Park.

The faculty and administration of the Chemical Physics Program help students make informed career decisions after the Ph.D. In addition to the rigorous formal coursework and the wide range of Ph.D. research opportunities, the Chemical Physics Program and the Graduate School provide workshops, seminars and mentoring sessions to guide students in the writing of their thesis, preparing resumes, presenting scientific information at meetings, and writing research proposals. This is reflected in the time to degree and first jobs of Chemical Physics graduates.

Recent graduates of our PhD program have gone on to postdoctoral research positions at numerous institutions, including Stanford University, MIT, the University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NIH, UC San Diego, the University of Washington, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Click here to review Graduate Program Expectations

University of Maryland   •   Chemical Physics Program   •   Computer and Space Sciences Building   •   College Park, MD 20742   •   301-405-4780