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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

School of Medicine

Ph.D. in Medical Physics



Jay Burmeister, Ph.D., DABR
Director, Medical Physics Graduate Program
Wayne State University School of Medicine


The curriculum consists of 60 post baccalaureate graduate course credits, including the required courses, with at least 30 credits at the 7000 level and above.  Students must successfully complete the Qualifying Examination and an Oral Exam.  After qualifying, 30 research and dissertation credits must be taken, including oral dissertation defense. Thus, the entire program consists of 90 graduate credits.  It is essential that the PhD Dissertation represent original research work which must be presented at a Public Defense lecture.  Also, all students will be encouraged to complete a (non-credit) Clinical Internship.

The PhD program in Medical Physics is designed to train graduate students with a background in Physics, Engineering, or related science to become medical physicists practicing in research and clinical service in Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Imaging, and/or Nuclear Medicine.  Our objectives are to remain one of the top medical physics educational programs in North America, to produce leaders and innovators in the advancement of the technical aspects of medical care, and to place our graduates in high quality research and clinical positions in the academic and health care professions.  In doing so, our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of health care in Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Imaging, and/or Nuclear Medicine.


In addition to the prerequisites for the Master's program:

  1. Graduate Record Examination: Subject Test in Physics (recommended).


All the required M.S. courses, plus:

ROC 9991-4 Doctoral Dissertation Research and Direction (30 credits)

plus additional didactic coursework to meet requirements (some electives listed below):


PHY 5300 Modern Physics II (3 credits)
PHY 5350 Optics (3 credits)
PHY 5620 Electronics and Electrical Measurements (5 credits)
PHY 6300 Quantum Theory I  (3 credits)
PHY 6800 Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHY 6810 Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHY 7070 Survey of Nuclear Physics  (3 credits)
ROC 7990 Directed Study (1 - 5 credits)
ROC 8990 Special Problems (1 - 3 credits)
BIO 5640 Cancer Biology I (3 credits)
BME 7710 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (4 credits)
BMS 6010 Biostatistics I (4 credits)
BMS 6020 Biostatistics II (3 credits)
CB 7250 Cancer Control (2 credits)
CM 6010 Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research (1 credit)
CM 6100 Introduction to the Business of Biotechnology (2 credits)
CM 7035 Applied Cancer Biostatistics (3 credits)
CM 7210 Research Methods for Health Professionals (4 credits)
MBG 7090  Scientific Communication I (2 credits)
MBG 7091  Scientific Communication II (2 credits)
PHC 7210 Fundamentals of Cancer Biology (3 credits)
MATH 5070 Advanced Calculus (4 credits)
MATH 5100 Numerical Methods (3 credits)
MATH 5220 Partial Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems (4 credits)
MATH 5530 Elementary Differential Geometry and its Applications (3 credits)
MATH 5700 Introduction to Probability Theory (4 credits)
MATH 5800 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics (4 credits)
MATH 5870 Methods of Optimization (3 credits)
PHY 6200 Theoretical Mechanics (4 credits)
PHY 6350 Applied Modern Optics (3 credits)
PHY 6500 Thermodynamics & Kinetic Theory (4 credits)
PHY 6600 Electromagnetic Fields (4 credits)
PHY 6860 Computational Physics I (3 credits)
PHY 6870 Computational Physics II (3 credits)
PHY 7050 Elementary Solid State Physics (3 credits)
PHY 7060 Survey of Elementary Particle Physics (3 credits)
PHY 7200 Advanced Mechanics (4 credits)
PHY 7400 Quantum Mechanics I (4 credits)
PHY 7550 Solid State Physics I (3 credits)
PHY 7600 Electromagnetic Theory I  (3 credits)
CSC 5050 Algorithms and Data Structure (4 credits)
CSC 5680 Introduction to Modeling & Simulation (3 credits)
CSC 5800 Expert Systems: Tools and Languages (3 credits)
CSC 5830 Computational Modeling of Complex Systems (3 credits)
CSC 5860 Intro. to Pattern Recognition & Image Processing (3 credits)
CSC 5870 Computer Graphics I (3 credits)
CSC 6800 Artificial Intelligence I (3 credits)
CSC 6860 Digital Image Processing and Analysis (3 credits


The PhD Qualifying Examination is usually taken by students after completion of all the required courses and is one of the requirements which must be successfully completed before being admitted to candidacy for the degree. The examination is in two parts, both written. Before taking the exam the student must have filed a Plan of Work with the Graduate School. The written exam consists of a four-hour (Part I) Radiological Physics Exam based on the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine (Board) Exam, followed by a four-hour (Part II) exam on problem solving in Medical Physics based upon the required ROC courses within the program.  The passing requirements are the same for both the Part I and Part II exams.  The examinee must achieve an average score of 70% for each exam, and must score at least 50% on all questions.

All questions for the Part I exam are selected from a bank of about 100 questions assembled into six topic groups. The exam consists of six questions, one question from each group being selected randomly for each exam. Candidates must answer four of the six questions. Copies of the Question Booklet are provided to all Ph.D. students by the Program Director. For the Part II Exam, questions are divided into three sections: (1) Diagnostic Imaging & Nuclear Medicine, (2) Radiation Oncology Physics, and (3) Radiological Physics, Radiation Dosimetry, Radiation Safety, and Radiobiology.  The examinee will receive two questions in each section. Candidates must answer four of the six questions, with at least one question selected from each of the three sections.

Students register for the Qualifying Exam with the Program Director at least two months before the Part I exam.

For the Oral Examination, the student is expected to review a potential research program and is required to demonstrate an adequate command of knowledge of the field of study, with the ability to organize and apply that knowledge toward completion of the proposed research. The Oral Exam will normally be administered after the candidate has successfully completed the Qualifying Exam, but no more than one year after, and is just beginning to work on a potential dissertation research project.  It will consist of a public seminar followed by a closed dissertation committee meeting.  All PhD students will meet with their respective committees, at a minimum, once per year.  Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed.


The purpose of the clinical internship is to provide practical experience so that graduates will be immediately useful upon employment. Interns will gain clinical experience under the direction of program faculty at the Karmanos Cancer Center, along with potentially other area facilities.  An internship covering IMRT quality assurance will also be offered through Karmanos Cancer Center.  Arrangements will be made during the fall term.  Additional clinical opportunities may be secured by the individual students through faculty mentors.


Up to 30 credits may be transferred in from another accredited university to meet the didactic requirements of the PhD degree.