FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: Additional general FAQ's may be found on the department website.
Do I need to major in physics in college to go into medical physics?
Graduate students in medical physics come from a variety of backgrounds – physics and engineering are common. However, all students must have a solid background in physics, typically including a year of calculus-based general physics, and upper-level courses in mechanics, E&M, modern physics and experimental lab. Often, some engineering courses are sufficiently equivalent.
Can I earn a Ph.D. in medical physics at LSU?
Yes. We offer a Medical Physics concentration to the Ph.D. in Physics degree. The degree requires core coursework in medical physics plus advanced coursework in physics, medical physics and other topics. Progress benchmarks include a Qualifying Exam, a General Exam, and defense of an original research dissertation. See the medical physics Ph.D. pages on our web site.
After completing the LSU M.S. in Medical Physics and Health Physics Program, will I be capable of entering a medical physics Ph.D. program or residency program?
Yes. The academic instruction follows the guidelines of AAPM Report 197. In recent years, many of our M.S. graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs or residency programs in medical physics.
On average, how long does it take to complete the graduate programs in medical physics and health physics at LSU?
Three years for M.S. in Medical Physics, two years for M.S. in Health Physics, and five years for Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics concentration).
What is the CAMPEP accreditation status of the LSU Medical Physics Program?
The LSU M.S. in Medical Physics and Health Physics Program has full accreditation by CAMPEP through 2011. We anticipate a 5-year renewal of the M.S. program and a 3-year initial accreditation of the Ph.D. program will be approved in late 2011. See http://www.campep.org/campeplstgrad.asp for a list of CAMPEP-accredited programs.
Where have your graduates found employment?
Graduates from the LSU Medical Physics and Health Physics Program have found employment in public and private hospitals, private cancer clinics, university hospitals, and government regulatory divisions. Some students have even struck out on their own, performing medical physics contract and consulting work.
I already have an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in medical physics. Do you offer a medical physics residency program?
The Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, our educational partner for the medical physics program, operates a radiation oncology physics residency program; CAMPEP accreditation is currently pending. Our long-term goal is to build sufficient capacity into this residency program to match the annual output of the graduate program.
I already have a Ph.D. in a field other than medical physics. Can I take medical physics courses at LSU to improve my chances to enter a residency program? Do you have a certificate program?
We do not currently offer a certificate program. However, post-doctoral fellows in our research group typically have opportunity to complete coursework analogous to the requirements of AAPM Report 197S, and have previously been successful at entering medical physics residency programs.
Do students in your Program generally specialize in learning one specific area of medical physics (medical imaging, radiation therapy, radiation safety), or is the Program geared more toward a general knowledge of all medical physics areas?
Courses cover all areas of medical physics; however, the advanced courses and clinical rotations are more focused on radiation therapy. For the final year, students focus on their area of research, typically in radiation therapy physics or medical imaging physics.
How many students do you accept each year into the M.S. in Medical Physics and Health Physics Program, or the Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics concentration)?
We anticipate accepting 6 students per year in the M.S. and Ph.D. medical physics concentrations and 0-1 students per year in the health physics concentration. All M.S. students start in the Fall semesters.
When are applications due? When will I hear about my application status?
The initial application deadline is January 25 each year, although we continue reviewing applications received after this date until available slots are filled. Applications are reviewed and ranked in February, so that ~12 applicants can be invited to interview in late February/early March. Admissions offers are made in prioritized order following the interviews; by mid-March, we will typically begin notifying applicants to whom no offer is expected.
Do you offer graduate assistantships or other financial support?
Most admissions offers include financial support in the form of a graduate assistantship or fellowship. Students are typically supported by teaching assistantships in the first phase of their education.
What are the GRE and GPA requirements for entry into the Program?
The LSU Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. The minimum GRE combined score that we consider is ~1100 (~300 for the new scoring system). Typically, applicants who are invited for interviews have a GRE quantitative reasoning score of at least 700 (155 on new system) and overall score of at least 1250 (~310 on new system). Over the past several years, entering medical physics students had an average GRE score above 1300 and average GPA of 3.5. No subject test is required for the M.S. Program; the Physics subject test is desirable for Ph.D. students.
What are the institution and department codes for GRE reporting?
Institution: 6373 (Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge)
Department: 0808 (Physics)
Do you accept international students?
All students are welcome to apply; however, in recent years, only international students who completed an undergraduate degree from a four-year college within the U.S. have matriculated into the M.S. Program.
What duties and time commitment are required for a graduate assistant?
Students are expected to work 20 hours per week for their assistantships, in addition to the significant time commitment needed for your own coursework and projects. Teaching assistants may teach undergraduate physics labs, do grading and proctoring for the physics service courses, or work in the department’s tutoring center. Research assistants work in the research lab of their major professor.
Do you accept students who are deficient in one or two classes (for example, physics, math or chemistry) and allow them to take those classes while pursuing the master’s degree?
Deficiencies are handled on a case-by-case basis; applicants must have a minimum number of deficiencies and be strong in all other respects to be considered. Deficiencies typically must be remedied prior to the end of your first year as a graduate student.
Can I visit LSU and the Medical Physics Program?
Certainly. Contact the LSU Medical Physics Program office at 225-578-2163 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a visit at any time during the year. Unfortunately, we cannot provide financial assistance for most visits. In the Spring of each year, however, we do invite our highest-rated applicants to visit LSU (at our expense) for an interview with the Program faculty.
Who should I contact if I have more questions?
Our contact information.
Last updated: January 13, 2014