Ph.D. in Medical Physics


Jay Burmeister, PhD, DABR, FAAPM
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, (with the exception of ROC 7999) plus:

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

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


BME 5010      Quantitative Physiology (4 credits)
BME 5020      Computer and Mathematical Applications in Biomed Eng (4 credits)
BME 5310      Device and Drug Approval and the FDA (3 credits)
BME 7710      Magnetic Resonance Imaging (4 credits)
BME 7730      Biomedical Imaging (1-4 credits)
BMS 6010       Biostatistics I (4 credits)
BMS 6020       Biostatistics II (3 credits)
BMS 6010       Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research (1 credit)
BMS 7100       Introduction to the Business of Biotechnology (3 credits)
CB 7130          Clinical Aspects of Cancer Biology (1 credit)
CB 7210          Fundamentals of Cancer Biology (3 credits)
CB 7300          Special Topics in Cancer Biology (3 credits)
CSC 5050        Algorithms and Data Structure (4 credits)
CSC 5250        Network, Distributed, and Concurrent Programming (3 credits)
CSC 5680        Introduction to Modeling & Simulation (3 credits)
CSC 5800        Intelligent Systems: Algorithms and Tools (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 6710        Database Management Systems I (3 credits)
CSC 6800        Artificial Intelligence I (3 credits)
CSC 6860        Digital Image Processing and Analysis (3 credits)
EDP 6210        Foundations of Educational Psychology (3 credits)
MATH 5030   Statistical Computing and Data Analysis (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)
MBG 7090      Scientific Communication I (2 credits)
MBG 7091      Scientific Communication II (2 credits)
PHY 5300       Modern Physics II (3 credits)
PHY 5350       Optics (3 credits)
PHY 5620       Electronics and Electrical Measurements (5 credits)
PHY 5750       Biological Physics (4 credits)
PHY 6200       Theoretical Mechanics (4 credits)
PHY 6300       Quantum Theory I  (3 credits)
PHY 6350       Applied Modern Optics (3 credits)
PHY 6500       Thermodynamics & Kinetic Theory (4 credits)
PHY 6600       Electromagnetic Fields (4 credits)
PHY 6800       Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHY 6810       Modern Physics (3 credits)
PHY 6860       Computational Physics I (3 credits)
PHY 6870       Computational Physics II (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.

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Division of Radiation Oncology