MIT Department of Physics


Building 6C is located at the core of the MIT Physics Department. Laboratories are often distributed throughout campus depending on their research areas.

The MIT Department of Physics has over 120 faculty members, is often cited as the largest physics department in the United States, and hosts top-ranked programs.[1][2][3][4] It offers the SB, SM, PhD, and ScD degrees. Thirteen alumni of the department and nine current or former faculty members (two of whom were also students at MIT) have won the Nobel Prize in Physics.


Undergraduate academics

There are two paths to earning a bachelor's degree (SB) in physics from MIT. The first, "Course 8 Focused Option", is for students intending to continue studying physics in graduate school.[5] The track offers a rigorous education in various fields in fundamental physics including classical and quantum mechanics, statistical physics, general relativity, electrodynamics, and higher mathematics.

The second, "Course 8 Flexible Option" is designed for those students who would like to develop a strong background in physics but who would like to branch off into other research directions or more unconventional career paths, such as information theory, computer science, finance, and biophysics. A significant part of the student's third and fourth undergraduate years are left open for relevant electives and graduate classes, which then form a specialization. Both tracks have a strong emphasis on laboratory instruction, with the third year often reserved for two "Junior Lab" courses. Most students partaking in undergraduate research or a research-oriented internship.[6]

Graduate academics

The department offers doctoral degrees in the following divisions: astrophysics, atomic and optical physics, biophysics, experimental condensed matter physics, theoretical condensed matter physics, experimental nuclear/particle physics, theoretical nuclear/particle physics, plasma physics, and quantum computing.[7]


The department is divided into four main research areas, namely a) astrophysics, b) atomic, biophysics, condensed matter, and plasma physics, c) experimental nuclear and particle physics, and d) theoretical nuclear and particle physics. A large amount of research is conducted the department's 17 affiliated labs and centers, a list which includes the Research Laboratory of Electronics, the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, the Center for Theoretical Physics, the Condensed Matter Theory Group, the MIT–Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, and LIGO.[8]

Notable faculty

The Nobel laureates in the faculty are:

Notable alumni

See also MIT Department of Physics Alumni for a larger list

Nobel Laureates

Other major physics discoveries

Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics

In government


Fictional alumni


  1. ^ Largest Physics PhD-Granting Departments in the U.S. American Institute of Physics Retrieved 15 July 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Best Physics Schools, 2018". US News. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  3. ^ "2019 Best Colleges for Physics in America". Niche. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Top Universities for Physics in 2019". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Prospective Physics Students". MIT Department of Physics. MIT. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Prospective Physics Students". MIT Department of Physics. MIT. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  7. ^ "MIT Department of Physics". Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  8. ^ Affiliated Labs and Centers. MIT Retrieved 16 July 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

  • MIT Department of Physics website
  • MIT OpenCourseWare: Physics