PhD Programme

The PhD in Physics programme is a four-year post-graduate programme focusing on original research in physics and applied physics. PhD students take advanced courses and perform research under the supervision of a faculty member. The programme culminates in writing a scientific thesis and defending it before a panel of experts.

Our Division performs world-class research in many fields, including condensed-matter physics, photonics, atomic physics, biophysics, soft matter physics, spintronics, quantum information, and more. We have a vibrant mix of both theoretical and experimental specialists, and have close scientific collaborations not only within NTU, but also other universities and research institutions around the world.

The PhD programme has a minimum candidature period of 2 years, and a maximum of 5 years. Most students complete the programme in 4 years.

Applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • BSc in Physics or a related discipline. If the university has an honours system, at least second-upper class honours, or the equivalent, is required.
  • Applicants may optionally have a MSc degree in physics or a related discipline, but this is not mandatory. If the university has an honours system, at least second-upper class honours in the MSc degree, or the equivalent, is required.
  • International applicants must have either GRE General Test scores or GATE scores. A GRE subject score in Physics is welcome but not required.
  • International applicants who are not native English speakers must have TOEFL scores or IETLS scores.

If you are unable to take the GRE/GATE or TOEFL/IETLS for some reason, it may be possible for you to take alternative evaluation tests administered by the School. Please ask your prospective supervisor (see below) for more information.

There are two application periods each year: October to January (for admission in August), and June to July (for admission in January). Most students are admitted during the first period.

For more information about admission procedures, including the list of required supporting documents and application fees, please visit the NTU Graduate Admissions page.

Before you begin to apply, you should contact the faculty member(s) whom you are interested in working with, and ask if they are interested to be your research supervisor. Graduate students are admitted into the Division of Physics and Applied Physics only if a faculty member agrees to be the research supervisor. Click here for our list of faculty members.

The faculty member(s) whom you contact may require you to give additional details about your educational and research background. He or she will also be able to give you more information about the scholarships available for supporting your graduate studies.

Once a faculty member has agreed to accept you as a graduate student, you may start the formal application process.

Graduate-Level Coursework

Students must complete a total of 16 Academic Units (AU) of graduate-level coursework, consisting of:

  • A total of 16 AU of 7XXX courses, including at least one PH70XX (graduate-level physics) course.
    To take courses offered outside the Division of Physics and Applied Physics, permission must be sought in advance from the School. Students must fulfil at least 50% of their total AU with courses from the College of Science.

Students are expected to maintain a minimum CGPA of 3.5. We recommend completing the coursework by the end of the first year, in order to sit for the Qualifying Examination on time.

Communication Courses

Students are also required to complete the following courses on communication and related topics. These courses do not carry any AU.

  • College of Science (CoS) Transferable Skills Programme:
    • CoS Research Integrity Workshop
    • Career Preparation Workshop (for students admitted from Academic Year 2022/2023 and before)
    • Any 3 elective modules (for students admitted from Academic Year 2022/2023 and before)
    • Online NTU Epigeum Research Integrity Course (during first semester)
    • Seminar attendance of at least 5 seminars per semester.
    • Completion of Graduate Assistantship Programme (GAP), if applicable
    • Annual meeting with Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) members
    • Submission of regular progress reports, including list of publications, TAC reports, and degree audit
    • At least 1 paper publication (for August 2024 intake onwards)

    The Qualifying Examination (QE) tests a PhD student's research progress, ability to explain and evaluate his/her research work in the context of the scientific literature, and ability to answer technical questions from other scientists.

    Unless special permission is granted by the School, the QE must be completed within 18 months from enrolment in the PhD programme. Failure to do so may result in disqualification from the PhD programme.

    Preparing for the QE

    To be eligible for the QE, you must have completed the coursework requirements of the PhD programme, while satisfying the minimum CGPA of 3.5. If you are enrolled in and on-track to complete the last one or two courses in their 3rd semester, permission will be granted to attend the QE. However, the QE results will take effect only after the successful completion of the required coursework. If you foresee that you might not be able to meet the coursework requirements before your QE due date, you should inform the SPMS Graduate Office as soon as possible.

    If you meet the eligibility criteria, your QE will be scheduled near the end of your 3rd semester (15–16 months after matriculation). You will be informed on the date/time of the oral examination via email.

    You should begin preparing the QE report a few months before the scheduled QE. This is a short report (anywhere from 20-50 pages) detailing (i) your research progress thus far, (ii) how it fits into the broader scientific literature, and (iii) your future research plans. It should be written to be understandable by physicists who are not necessarily subject-matter experts in your research topic(s). It should be properly formatted according to the standards of the scientific literature (e.g., with page numbers, appropriately- captioned figures and tables, properly type-set and numbered equations, etc.).

    Please discuss the contents of the QE report with your faculty supervisor in advance, and start working on it early; do not leave things to the last minute! You should show your completed QE report to your faculty supervisor, and receive his/her approval, before submitting it to the examiners.

    You should also prepare a 30-minute presentation, with slides, covering the same material as your QE report. The oral examination will consist of the 30 minute presentation, followed by a 10–15 minute Q&A session. The examiners may ask you about anything relating to your research.

    Student must write a research thesis. Once the student and supervisor have agreed that the thesis is ready, it should be submitted online (via GSLink → Academic → Thesis → Thesis Submission). After being endorsed by the supervisor, the thesis is sent to three independent examiners for evaluation. After this evaluation, the student must defend the thesis in an oral examination scheduled by the school.

    Completed theses must be posted to the NTU Digital Repository.