Program Overview

UCF’s Physics Department became an APS Bridge Program site in 2015 with the goal to expand access to Physics PhD programs.  UCF is the second-largest university in the USA and is located in the 2.3 million-strong metropolitan area of Orlando, Florida.

At UCF, Bridge Program (BP) Fellows not only join the department with their cohort but are also fully integrated into the graduate program from the time they join the department.  Hence, BP Fellows at UCF are formally full-fledged graduate students, with the same financial support and departmental research opportunities as any graduate student, while also having the BP’s specialized mentoring and advising designed to help them achieve professional success both in the classroom and in a research group.  Depending on their preparation, BP Fellows take either core graduate courses or a mix of graduate and undergraduate courses. First year BP Fellows benefit from peer mentoring from the more senior BP Fellows.  In addition, each BP Fellow is also matched with a faculty mentor for enhanced research experience.

Our BP Fellows participate in professional development workshops offered by the College of Graduate Studies.  BP Fellows have the option to apply to the Physics PhD program at UCF or other institution of their choice.  To apply to the UCF Physics PhD program by the Fall priority deadline of January 15th*, click here.

*Note: The priority application deadline if applying to the Planetary Sciences Track is December 1st.


We offer a veritable cornucopia of research topics in both experimental and theoretical physics to choose from (e.g.  Condensed Matter, Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics, Biological Physics, Planetary Science, Quantum Information, Physics Education). Further research opportunities are offered by our affiliated faculty from related units, such as the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL), the Nanoscience Technology Center, the Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC), Florida Solar Energy Center and the Florida Space Institute (FSI).

Additional information about our Physics faculty and their research areas can be found here. We encourage prospective Bridge Fellows to contact faculty to discuss their research interest as they develop their application.

Coursework and Advising

A Physics MS student is required to take a minimum 30 credit hours graduate level courses – a combination of core courses, electives, thesis, directed research and/or independent study. On arrival, the BP Fellow will take a diagnostic test (equivalent to a Physics GRE), following which the graduate program director will advise students individually to identify the courses they should take. During their first semester, a physics faculty member will hold weekly GRE preparation sessions for BP Fellows to prepare them for this particular exam which is a requirement for admission to most physics PhD programs in the country. This Summer and Fall 2021, the UCF Physics Bridge Program partnered with UCF Continuing Education to sponsor interested MS Bridge Fellows and provide GRE Test preparation sessions at a discounted rate.  Additional information about the GRE Test preparation sessions can be found here.  During their first year in the program, BP Fellows have the option of applying to the PhD program at UCF or seeking admission elsewhere, through the normal process. Additional information about the Physics MS program can be found here.

Ready to apply?

How to Apply:  All students interested in pursuing a PhD in physics are eligible to apply through the American Physical Society (APS) Bridge Program.  Applications to the APS Bridge Program open on December 15th and have a deadline of March 15th (click here for informational flyer).

For eligibility requirements and to apply, click here.

Note: Applicants who believe they are qualified to begin PhD-level work right away are encouraged to apply directly to the UCF Physics PhD program by the January 15th priority deadline (for those seeking graduate assistantship or fellowship opportunities).  The priority application deadline is December 1st if applying to the Planetary Sciences Track. Click here for information about graduate admissions.

Questions about the Physics graduate program and application process may be directed to Esperanza Soto, Graduate Admissions Coordinator, at or by calling (407) 823-5146.

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