Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to major in physics in college to go into medical physics?

Graduate students in medical physics come from a variety of backgrounds - physics and engineering are common. However, all students must have a solid background in physics, typically including a year of calculus-based general physics and upper-level courses in mechanics, E&M, modern physics, and quantum mechanics. Some engineering courses are sufficiently equivalent. Eligibility to take Part 1 of the American Board of Radiology professional certification exam requires an undergraduate physics background comparable to a minor in physics.

Can I earn a Ph.D. in medical physics at LSU?

Yes. We offer a Medical Physics concentration to the Ph.D. in Physics degree. The degree requires core coursework in medical physics plus advanced coursework in physics, medical physics and other topics. Progress benchmarks include a Qualifying Exam, a General Exam, and defense of an original research dissertation. See the medical physics Ph.D. pages on our web site.

After completing the LSU M.S. in Medical Physics and Health Physics Program, will I be capable of entering a medical physics Ph.D. program or residency program?

Yes. Our MS and PhD degrees in medical physics are CAMPEP accredited. The academic instruction follows the guidelines of AAPM Report 197. In recent years, our M.S. graduates have been extremely successful at gaining acceptance to medical physics residency programs across the U.S. The MS in Health Physics degree is not CAMPEP accredited and does not allow for admission into medical physics residency programs.

On average, how long does it take to complete the graduate programs in medical physics and health physics at LSU?

Three years for M.S. in Medical Physics, two years for M.S. in Health Physics, and five years for Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics concentration).

Where have your graduates found employment?

Graduates from the LSU Medical Physics and Health Physics Program have found employment in public and private hospitals, private cancer clinics, university hospitals, and government regulatory divisions. Some students have even struck out on their own, performing medical physics contract and consulting work. The next step in training for most of our graduates is a medical physics residency program.

What is the CAMPEP accreditation status of the LSU Medical Physics Program?

The M.S., Ph.D., and certificate tracks in the LSU Medical Physics and Health Physics Program all have full accreditation by CAMPEP through 2021. See for a list of CAMPEP-accredited programs.

How is completion of the CAMPEP-accredited medical physics curriculum documented on the diploma or transcripts?

An official transcript from LSU lists all degrees or certificates awarded. It also lists the degree/major (e.g., MS in Medical Physics and Health Physics, or PhD in Physics) and the corresponding concentration. For graduates of our accredited medical physics degree programs, the concentration is listed as “MEDICAL PHYSICS” for the CAMPEP-accredited curricula.” LSU diplomas list the degree (MS or PhD) but not the concentration.

I already have an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in medical physics. Do you offer a medical physics residency program?

The Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, our educational partner for the medical physics program, operates a CAMPEP-accredited radiation oncology physics residency program. Our goal is for all of our graduates to have access to a residency position, either in the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center residency program or elsewhere in the U.S. The residency program page elsewhere on our website will take you to the full residency program website.

I already have a Ph.D. in a field other than medical physics. Can I take medical physics courses at LSU to improve my chances to enter a residency program? Do you have a certificate program?

Yes, we offer a post-doctoral certificate program in medical physics that follows the recommendations of AAPM Report 197S; the required courses can be completed in as little as 2 semesters. Post-doctoral fellows in our research group typically have opportunities to complete the same coursework at a slower pace, and have previously been successful at entering medical physics residency programs. Contact the Program Director or Deputy Director for further information.

Do students in your Program generally specialize in learning one specific area of medical physics (medical imaging, radiation therapy, radiation safety), or is the Program geared more toward a general knowledge of all medical physics areas?

Courses cover all areas of medical physics; however, the advanced courses and clinical rotations are more focused on radiation therapy. For the final year, students focus on their area of research, typically in radiation therapy physics or medical imaging physics.

How many students do you accept each year into the M.S. in Medical Physics and Health Physics Program, or the Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics concentration)?

We typically admit up to 6 students per year in the M.S. and Ph.D. medical physics concentrations and up to 2 students per year in the M.S. health physics concentration. All M.S. students start in the Fall semesters. PhD students typically start in the Fall semesters; opportunities for Spring semester admissions are limited.

When are applications due? When will I hear about my application status?

The application deadline is January 1 each year for the upcoming Fall semester, although we continue reviewing applications received after this date until available slots are filled. Applications are reviewed and ranked in February, so that ~12 applicants can be invited to interview in late February/early March. Admissions offers are made in prioritized order following the interviews; by mid-March, we will typically begin notifying applicants to whom no offer is expected.

Do you offer graduate assistantships or other financial support?

Most admissions offers include financial support in the form of a graduate assistantship or fellowship. Students are typically supported by teaching assistantships in the first phase of their education. We strive to support graduate students on assistantships and fellowships whenever possible.

Do I need to submit official transcripts with my application?

No, official versions of transcripts are not required with your application; unofficial copies are acceptable for our faculty to use when reviewing your application. Acceptable versions can be a scanned copy of a printed official transcript, a printout of an official university degree audit, or similar – a self-prepared list of coursework is not acceptable. Unofficial transcripts can be submitted in the online application system; please submit only PDF versions of these documents. If an admission offer is made to you, official transcripts will be requested at that time.

What are the GRE and GPA requirements for entry into the Program?

GRE is waived for Fall 2022 applications. The LSU Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. Typically, applicants who are invited for interviews have a GRE quantitative reasoning score of at least 155 and a combined (V+Q) score of at least 310. Over the past several years, entering medical physics students had an average GRE quantitative score above 160, an average combined score above 320, and an average GPA of 3.5. No subject test is required for the M.S. Program; the Physics subject test is encouraged for Ph.D. students.

Question: “What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score?

The LSU Department of Physics expects a TOEFL score of 100 or higher (computer-based exam) or an IELTS score of 7 or higher. Because graduate students typically work as teaching assistants, strong communication skills in written and spoken English are important.

What are the institution and department codes for GRE reporting?

Institution: 6373 (Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge)
Department: 0808 (Physics)

Do you accept international students?

International students are welcome to apply; for applicants located outside the U.S., we use telephone or Skype interviews during the admissions process if an applicant is requested to interview for admission. Typically 15-20% of the current enrollment are international students.

What duties and time commitment are required for a graduate assistant?

Students are expected to work 20 hours per week for their assistantships, in addition to the significant time commitment needed for your own coursework and projects. Teaching assistants may teach undergraduate physics labs, do grading and proctoring for the physics service courses, or work in the department’s tutoring center. Research assistants work in the research lab of their major professor.

Do you accept students who are deficient in one or two classes (for example, physics, math or chemistry) and allow them to take those classes while pursuing the master’s degree?

Deficiencies are handled on a case-by-case basis; applicants must have a minimal number of deficiencies and be strong in all other respects to be considered. Deficiencies typically must be remedied prior to the end of your first year as a graduate student.

Do you waive GRE or TOEFL scores?

GRE is waived for Fall 2022 applications. Waivers will not be considered for core application materials, including personal statement, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Requests to waive TOEFL or IELTS scores will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and require compensating strengths in other aspects of the application as well as assessment through our interview process. Please contact our Program’s Applicant Liaison for more information.

Do you provide conditional admissions?

Because of the small number of students we can admit each year, we do not provide early or conditional admission. Applicants are expected to meet all admissions requirements by the desired semester of matriculation. All applicants are evaluated through our admissions process before any offer will be made; the application deadline is typically January 1 for matriculation in the next Fall semester.

Can I visit LSU and the Medical Physics and Health Physics Program?

Certainly. Contact the LSU Medical Physics Program office, at 225-578-2163 or by email, to discuss a visit at any time during the year; unfortunately, we cannot provide financial assistance for visits.  In the Spring of each year, however, we do invite our highest-ranked applicants to visit LSU at our expense for an interview with the Program faculty.

Who should I contact if I have more questions?

Our program's Applicant Liaison is available to answer questions. Our contact information is available here.