Life as a Graduate Student

Our graduate students are one of our greatest resources. Every year, we recruit a diverse set of talented, outgoing, and ambitious individuals who are committed to pursuing their passion for physics and for life. Even given the caliber of our program, the Physics Department at the University of Arizona is a congenial space. Among graduate students, the spirit of cama-raderie is strong and relationships are more cooperative than competitive. Graduate students plan department picnics, holiday parties, teas, and a weekly get-together at a local brewery; they play intramural sports and even organize annual out-of-town ski weekends.


Our department has recently expanded funding for graduate students. Whether in the form of Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships, all incoming Ph.D. students are guaranteed financial support, including health insurance. Given the relatively low cost of living in Tucson, our graduate students generally find that their stipends allow them to live quite comfortably.

Mentorship and Participation

Upon arrival, each graduate student is paired with a team of Faculty Mentors and Grad Mentors to ensure that everyone hits the ground running. Graduate students are also involved in departmental governance. There is an active Graduate Student Council that meets regularly with the Department Head and the Director of Graduate Studies to make sure that the graduate student perspective is always heard. Individual graduate students also serve as representatives on various departmental committees. Graduate students even help interview prospective faculty candidates.

Facilities and Support

Within the university setting, grad students have excellent resources, including a private lounge as well as extensive computer facilities and technical support. Senior grad students organize mentoring programs for junior graduate students, helping them navigate their way amongst the myriad opportunities available. Free workshops on a variety of topics such as writing a thesis and preparing conference talks are also conducted throughout the year. The department also sponsors outreach and educational events in which graduate students often choose to participate.

Tucson and the Community

Arizona is the largest state in the American Southwest and one of the fastest-growing states in the entire country. Tucson is a modern city of nearly a million people, with ample intellectual and cultural resources within easy reach, including a symphony orchestra, ballet and opera companies, and extensive on-campus cultural facilities. The city sits amidst the Sonoran Desert, a landscape of incredible beauty and variety, surrounded by 9,000-foot mountain peaks, extensive hiking and biking trails, and two National Parks. For nine months of the year, our weather is perpetual springtime, with an average high temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit through the winter. Even in summer, the air is dry and comfortable. The Grand Canyon, Gulf of California beaches, Las Vegas, and the whole of Southern California are also within an easy half-day drive.