About the Program

What is Physics?

  • Physics is not Engineering
  • Physics is not Philosophy
  • Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences
  • The goal of physics is to understand the physical world (universe) around us and to understand how we know what we think we know

About the UHCL Physics Program

  • UHCL's physics program grew out the UHCL Physical Sciences: Space Science Program
  • Our original focus was on Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics
  • Now many students usually specialize in Biophysics, Applied Physics, Particle Physics, Astronomy or Relativity but they can also specialize in other areas

Brief History of Physics at UHCL

  • The Physical Science program was established in 1975 after the founding of UHCL
  • It was originally a combination of astronomy, chemistry, geology and physics but eventually lost concentrations in chemistry and geology
  • The Physical Science B.S. redeveloped to prepare students for Teacher Certification in 2003
  • The Physical Science M.S. was replaced by a physics M.S. in 2004
  • The Collaborative Physics Ph.D. was initated in 2007
  • The Physics B.S. was initiated in 2009

What We Offer

  • Physics MS - enhances the background of practicing engineers and prepares students for Ph.D. work in physics or Astronomy
  • Physics MS Sub-Plan in Technical Management - to prepare students for careers in managing technical projects and people
  • Collaborative PhD with UH - Allows students to complete a PhD in physics on the Clear Lake campus. Some students can do this while working with NASA.
  • Physics BS - designed to prepare students for technical careers in Engineering, Physics or Space Science


  • Biophysics Research Lab
  • Computational Physics Lab
  • HPC Computing Cluster
  • Modern Teaching Lab
  • Collaborations with JSC
  • Collaborations with the Lunar and Planetary Institute
  • Applied Physics Research Lab

Things you need to know before you take graduate-level physics courses

Your mathematics preparation is critical. If you have any doubts about your knowledge of advanced math, please contact the physics program chair to discuss ways to prepare for the program. Also, talk to the instructor before signing up for any graduate-level course to discuss your level of preparation.

Each Physics course takes about 15-20 hours per week, assuming adequate preparation. Full-time students generally take three courses per semester; part-time students generally take one or two courses per semester. Each course requires significant reading and problem solving outside of class in addition to the required texts. Be prepared to commit time outside of the classroom and to use additional resources.

The program encourages group learning in many classes. In the end, however, you should do all work on your own to maximize your understanding. Be prepared to work with a study group even if you are not assigned to one.

Research is as important as classroom studies. As you go through the program, seek out research opportunities with the faculty. Plan for your capstone experience (research project or thesis) by taking advanced courses related to your research interests. Attend events such as seminars and journal club meetings; they can help you explore your research interests. 

You can start by taking courses as a non-degree seeking student. However, you should apply for degree-seeking status BEFORE completing nine credit hours. The MS program requires only the General GRE for admission. Admission to the PhD course of study demands the Physics GRE.