Are you looking for a physics degree but want to do research in applying physics principles to problems in biology and medicine? Are you interested in state-of-the-art research?

The primary objective of the PhD program in biomedical physics is to graduate scientists who can apply the tools and concepts of physics to solve significant biological and medical problems and advance our understanding of fundamental biomedical processes. This interdisciplinary program combines both basic physics with problems in biology and medicine. Students have a wide variety of specialization, from radiation physics, photonics (lasers), spectroscopy, biomedical physics, medical physics, radiation biology and physiology, among others.

ECU Advantage

The physics department is a research-oriented department with both master's and PhD programs and an active academic life. Students enjoy a lot of personal contact between faculty and students. Our faculty are involved in cutting-edge research in various areas of radiation physics, biomedical physics, medical physics and other areas. Qualified PhD students can obtain the CAMPEP accredited MS in physics/medical physics concentration together with the PhD.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Michael Dingfelder (127 Austin Building; 252-328-0882; dingfelderm@ecu.edu)

The primary objective of the PhD program in biomedical physics is to graduate scientists who can apply the tools and concepts of physics to solve significant biological and medical problems and advance our understanding of fundamental biomedical processes. Core curricula in both applied physics and biomedical areas are designed to provide training for students with diverse backgrounds in physics, applied physics, biochemistry, and engineering. All students are required to complete a dissertation project under supervision of a faculty advisor.

Integrated PhD and MS in Physics - Medical Physics Concentration

Students admitted to this concentration need to fulfill independently all requirements for both the MS in physics-medical physics concentration and the PhD in biomedical physics. Both degrees will be awarded concurrently.


    Students are admitted either to the PhD program alone or to the integrated PhD and MS in physics – medical physics concentration.

    The applicant preferably holds a master’s degree in physics, applied physics, medical physics, or related fields. Applicants holding a baccalaureate degree in above mentioned fields showing significant potential for the PhD program may be considered for acceptance. Acceptable performance on the GRE and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in graduate work are required.

    The following documents are required before final admission is approved: completed application form for admission to Graduate School, official transcripts from colleges and universities attended, official or certified copy of score reports of the GRE and TOEFL (if applicable), letters of reference from three persons who can attest to the applicant’s academic competence, and an essay describing the applicant’s career goals and research interests which are consistent with the educational opportunities offered in the PhD program.

      Course and Residence Requirements

      The PhD program requires a minimum of 48 s.h. of courses beyond the master's degree with the exception of baccalaureate to PhD students who are required to complete a minimum of 76 s.h. The student will take a minimum of 6 s.h. of courses from a physics core, a minimum of 6 s.h. of courses from a biomedical core, and a minimum of 36 s.h. of dissertation research courses. Additional courses may be required by the graduate committee, depending on the individual student's preparation. Students entering with a baccalaureate degree are further required to complete the coursework of the MS in physics – applied physics concentration without thesis.

      Students must demonstrate a working knowledge of at least one high-level computer language, such as FORTRAN or C. After a majority of the courses have been completed, students must pass the doctoral candidacy examination before being admitted to candidacy for the PhD in biomedical physics. Students are required to write and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation.

      Students must complete at least five consecutive semesters in residence (excluding summers).

        Transfer Credits

        Because of the broad interest and collaborative nature of the PhD program, the graduate committee will evaluate transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. A maximum of 6 s.h. of transfer credit may be accepted.

        If a student enrolls in this program and already has the equivalent of the 12 s.h. beyond the master’s degree, he or she may petition the graduate committee for a waiver or substitution for these courses.

          Other Program Expectations

          Students entering the PhD program should complete it by the end of five years following initial enrollment. With the endorsement of the advisory committee, a student having deficiencies in preparation may request an extension of no more than two years.

            For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

            Careers With This Degree

            Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

            • Biophysics
            • Biochemists
            • Biophysicists
            • Medical Scientists
            • Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary
            • Scientific and Technical Services
            • Education and Training
            • Biophysics

            Career Opportunities

            ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

            NC Tower

            This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

            • Self-employed;
            • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
            • Work outside of North Carolina.

            US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

            This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

            Degree-specific internships

            For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.