The UCSB Physics Department has outstanding resources for both experimental and theoretical research. Well-equipped laboratories in the Physics building are engaged in a broad range of research in the physics of soft and living matter, condensed matter physics (including graphene, quantum materials, and quantum information science), atomic and molecular physics (including quantum emulation, quantum sensing, and probes of physics beyond the standard model) and the development and construction of innovative detector technologies in astrophysics and particle physics. Numerous collaborative efforts within and beyond the department connect these and other areas.

The resources for theoretical physics are outstanding. The world-renowned Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) is located steps from the physics building. The Institute conducts research programs across a broad range of areas of astrophysics, condensed matter physics, fundamental particle physics, nuclear physics, the physics of soft and living matter, string theory, and gravity/relativity, inviting eminent physicists from around the world to participate in these programs for months at a time. All the KITP’s activities are open to Physics graduate students. Microsoft’s Station Q research center located in the California Nanosystem Institute (CNSI) leads a focused effort in the theory of topological phases and quantum computing. These centers provide unequalled opportunities for broad exposure to theoretical physics and its leading practitioners.

Unique collaborative facilities are a key ingredient of research excellence at UCSB. A high-power, tunable, far-infrared free-electron laser is the center of a broad research program in terahertz phenomena. The California Nanosystems Institute, the Materials Research Laboratory, and Microsoft's Station Q are key on-campus facilities with strong interactions with our graduate program and faculty. The California Institute for Quantum Entanglement promotes collaborative quantum science work with universities throughout California. Off-campus particle physics research is performed at CERN (Geneva), Fermilab (Chicago) and at the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory (South Dakota). Astrophysicists use the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, as well as a variety of other ground-based and space-based observing facilities. The Department has a strong association with the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, a worldwide network of telescopes that is now being constructed and is headquartered near the campus.
The Department offers graduate programs leading to a Ph.D. in physics and a Ph.D. in physics with an astrophysics emphasis. The key elements in the program are advanced graduate courses and research conducted by students under the close supervision of a faculty thesis advisor.

Mailing Address

Department of Physics
University of California, Santa Barbara
Broida Hall, Room 3019
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9530


Department Phone Number
(805) 893-4646

Degree icon Degrees Offered

Address iconDeadlines

Fall Only:

  • December 15, 2023 (by 11:59 PM PST)

Requirements Icon


  • Online application:
  • In the Degree Program section of the online application, indicate ONE or TWO primary areas of interest from the following list, ordered by area of preference (Select this information in the Area of Research Interest Menu):
    • astrophysics
    • atomic, molecular & optical physics
    • condensed matter experiment
    • condensed matter theory
    • gravitational physics
    • high energy experiment
    • high energy theory
    • physics of soft and living matter (experiment)
    • physics of soft and living matter (theory)
  • Statement of Purpose, Personal History and Diversity Statement, and Resume or CV (submitted in the online application). 
    • Your Statement of Purpose must be written in narrative (essay) form without duplicating content from your Personal History and Diversity Statement.
    • Your Personal History and Diversity Statement must be written in narrative (essay) form without duplicating content from your Statement of Purpose. A minimum word count of 250 words is required. 
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (submitted online)
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (submitted online)
  • English Language Exam Scores (if applicable): TOEFL Internet-Based Test (IBT) total score of 80, or TOEFL Paper-Based Test (PBT) total score of 550, or IELTS Overall Band score of 7, or Duolingo English Test total score of 120, or higher
  • Final/Official transcripts will be required for all applicants who are admitted and have indicated their intent to enroll at UC Santa Barbara by submitting a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found.

Astrophysics (Ph.D. only)