3-2  BA/MS Program in Physics with an Emphasis on Medical Physic

Modern medicine makes use of an increasing array of technologies based on the application of principles of physics. Notable are those involving therapeutic radiology, lasers, and medical imaging (such as MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging, ultrasound, and PET - Positron Emissions Tomography scans).  Medical Physicists (see American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and Medical Physics National Report) are trained to work in these areas. Physicists who belong to the AAPM (which has a large memberhip), are interested mostly in the use of radiation in cancer treatment (oncology), and have direct dealings with patients.  There is another organization, the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) that includes scientists from a variety of science and engineering departments and deals with diagnositics and "medical imaging physics" (see for example the Harvard-MIT program).

Financial aid for the 5th year of the program (up to 75% tuition scholarship for qualifying students) is available.

Each student should discuss an individualized course-plan for the  3-2 program with Professors Bodek and Bigelow (Physics), in consultation with Professor Schell (Oncology) and Professor Zhong (Radiology and Physics). The course plan should satisfy the requirements of a BA in Physics
and a MS in Physics.

The following are links to several possible examples of tracks for the  3-2 program (with Emphasis on different subfields of Medical Physics) 
  1. For Track 1: A 3-2 BA/MS in Physics with minor in Biology and emphasis on treatment and oncology click here
  2. For Track 2: A 3-2 BA/MS in Physics with a minor in Optics and emphasis on treatment and oncology click here
  3. For Track 3: A 3-2 BA/MS in Physics with minor in engineering and emphasis on diagnostics and medical imaging click here
BA or BS Only Option in Physics (with emphasis on medical physics)
  • For a  4 Year BA or BS in Physics with Preparation for Medical School (BS for MD/PhD) click here
MS-Only Option in Physics  (with emphasis on medical physics)
  • The MS-only option is occasionally made available by special arrangment for students who already have a BA or BS in Physics. For details click here

General 3-2 BA/BS Option in Physics  (with M.S. in any subfield physics)

  • Students may apply to the general 3/2 program in physics and do an M.S. thesis in any subfield of physics.  This is sufficient to satisfy the NY State requirements for an MS degree in Physics (and for passing the NY State board certification students need to study the additional material on their own after three years of work in the field of medical physics).

General 3/2 Program Requirements

Students in any Physics and Astronomy 3/2 program must satisfy the College degree requirements for the Bachelor's (B.S. or B.A.) degree  as well as for the Master's degree. The Master's degree may be either under Plan A (M.S. degree), which requires a dissertation and an oral examination on the dissertation, or Plan B (M.A. degree), which requires that the student pass the Department's Master's Comprehensive Examination (same examination as the Department's Preliminary Examination, however the candidate need pass at the Master's level only). It is expected that the student will complete the Bachelor's degree by the end of the fourth year. For the Master's degree, the requirements include at least 30 credit hours of coursework beyond the requirements for the Bachelor's degree, with the following stipulations:
  • At least 12 hours must be at the 400 level or higher

  • For Plan A, 6-12 hours must represent the dissertation research/reading

  • At most 6 hours may be reading course(s)

  • At most 10 hours may be transfer credits, including courses taken at the University of Rochester prior to graduate matriculation in the program. The regulations state that "Ordinarily, no course completed before the candidate has received the bachelor's degree may be included in the graduate program.'' This rule is waived for the 3/2 program.
  • For more details see the Regulations and University Policies Concerning Graduate Study. The M.S. Thesis defense committee includes three members, appointed by the dean for graduate studies. These include the student's advisor in Physics, the student's external research advisor (if not in the department), and another faculty member. One of the committee members must from a department other than Physics and Astronomy.
  • Exceptions to any of the above rules (and those in the regulations document) must be approved by the associate dean of graduate studies.

Admission to the MS Program

Students who to wish to continue towards a MS degree should apply to the 3/2 program in the Fall or Spring of their junior year (applications will be accepted during the Fall of their senior year, up to Nov. 1, but junior year applications are strongly preferred). Students should identify a faculty member who will agree to serve as advisor and, for Plan A students, will supervise the dissertation research. Students should apply through the usual graduate studies application, with the following modifications:
  • Student should submit, with the application, a program of study including classes to be taken and identification of the faculty advisor and research topic if applicable.

  • The GRE is not required at the time of application, but students are expected to take the GRE, usually during the Fall of the senior year.
Admission to the MS program will be decided by the Graduate Admissions Committee, based on the academic record and letters of recommendation.  Support for the fifth year for the  3-2 program  is available in the form of partial tuition scholarship up to a level of 75% for qualifying 3-2 program students.

List of particpating faculty in the Medical Physics 3/2 program

This program has been developed by Professors Bodek and Bigelow (Physics), Schell (Oncology) and Zhong (Radiology and Physics) in consultation with the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee in Physics, and Professors Olek (Biology), Parker (ECE) and Waugh (BME).

For a partial list of faculty members who have previously supervised undergraduate and graduate research the fields of Medical Physics, Biological Physics, Biological/Medical Optics or related fields click here.

Students in the 3-2 Program can arrange to do a MS Thesis with any faculty member at the University of Rochester (in the subject of Medical or Biological Physics or Optics).

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University of Rochester
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Rochester, NY 14627-0171 

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(585) 273-3237 

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