Applied Physics, PhD

Applied Physics PhD Degree

Are you a problem solver? If so, Applied Physics is the program for you. Applied Physicists are problem solvers by nature, spending their time exploring the phenomena that become the foundation of quantum and photonic devices and novel materials. Located at the intersection of physics and engineering, Applied Physics enables you to study the fundamentals of complex systems, including living organisms. You will work with faculty to research biomaterials, materials, photonics, quantum engineering, and soft matter.

Research in this area focuses on photonics, quantum science and engineering, quantum materials, quantitative biology, soft matter physics, biomaterials and biophysics, and novel materials. Applied Physics at Harvard provides an extraordinary opportunity to further your intellectual curiosity whether you are excited about experiments, developing new instrumentation, theoretical studies, or modeling.

Projects worked on by current and past students include developing millimeter-size flat lenses for virtual and augmented reality platforms, discovering materials for stable quantum computing, and building fundamental technologies for integrated photonics.



Applied Physics Degree

Harvard School of Engineering offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Applied Physics, conferred through the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Doctoral students may earn the masters degree en route to the Ph.D.  Prospective students apply through Harvard Griffin GSAS; in the online application, select  “Engineering and Applied Sciences” as your program choice and select “PhD Applied Physics” in the Area of Study menu.

The Applied Physics program does not offer an independent Masters Degree.

Please note that admission to the AP Ph.D. program is independent from admission to the Physics Ph.D. at Harvard. While you can transfer between programs within SEAS after being admitted, transfer to a program outside SEAS requires reapplying to that program. Once admitted to the Applied Physics PhD program, you must find a Ph.D. advisor who holds an appointment within SEAS. (Faculty members listed as “Affiliates" can co-advise a Ph.D. student with another Applied Physics faculty member, but cannot serve as the primary research advisor.)  

Applied Physics PhD Career Paths

Graduates of the program have gone on to a range of careers in industry in companies like Apple, NTT Physics & Information Labs, and Intel. Others have secured faculty positions at University of Wisconsin, Stanford, and Columbia. More generally, students with a PhD in Applied Physics are can take roles in academia, aerospace, technology, energy, and medicine.

Admissions & Academic Requirements

Please review the admissions requirements and other information before applying. in the online application, select “Engineering and Applied Sciences” as your program choice and select “PhD Applied Physics” in the Area of Study menu. Our website also provides admissions guidanceprogram-specific requirements, and a PhD program academic timeline.

Academic Background

Applicants typically have bachelor’s degrees in the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, or engineering. 

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Not Accepted

Applied Physics Faculty & Research Areas

View a list of our Applied Physics faculty and Applied Physics affiliated research areas, Please note that faculty members listed as “Affiliates" or "Lecturers" cannot serve as the primary research advisor.

Applied Physics Centers & Initiatives

The area features a highly-accomplished faculty and a number of world-class facilities and centers, including the Center for Integrated Quantum Materials; the Center for Nanoscale Systems, one of the world's most advanced research facilities housing a shared cleanroom, facilities for materials synthesis, and a microscopy suite; Materials Research Science and Engineering Center; the Kavli Institute for Bionanoscience and Technology; the Quantitative Biology Initiative; the Center for Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis; and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

View a list of the research centers & initiatives at SEAS and the Applied Physics faculty engagement with these entities.

Graduate Student Clubs

Graduate student clubs and organizations bring students together to share topics of mutual interest. These clubs often serve as an important adjunct to course work by sponsoring social events and lectures. Graduate student clubs are supported by the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin School of Arts and Sciences. Explore the list of active clubs and organizations.

Funding and Scholarship

Learn more about financial support for PhD students.

How to Apply

Learn more about how to apply or review frequently asked questions for prospective graduate students.