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Medical Physics

Overview and Program Goals

The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Department of Physics and Applied Physics offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Medical Physics, both accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). In collaboration with local and regional hospitals and cancer centers in the Boston area, the program is designed for individuals who wish to be educated in therapeutic and imaging medical physics.

Students gain education and training in fundamental radiation sciences, medical physics and dosimetry, which includes laboratory work and clinical internship. The MS program duration is designed to be two years plus one summer semester, although the typical academic plan may be different due to elective courses and the length of thesis research. The duration of the Ph.D. program depends on the student’s academic progress, and it is usually between four and six years. Both the MS thesis and Ph.D. dissertation must be based on hypothesis- or development-driven research, and the student is expected to submit the results to a peer-reviewed journal.

Program Objectives

The MS Degree in Medical Physics qualifies students for all medical physics specialties and prepares them for residency programs, junior medical physics positions, and future ABR exams. The clinical component provides the students with training dominantly in radiation therapy, but diagnostic imaging traineeships are also available.

The Ph.D. degree program provides the students with fundamental knowledge of physics with a specialization in medical physics. Students receive advanced research training in particular areas of medical physics, which will prepare them for entry-level research positions in academia or industry, or for a medical physics resident position under the supervision of a board-certified medical physicist.

Historically, most students have concentrated on therapy physics but because sometimes faculty and the cooperating hospitals have imaging or nuclear medicine research projects, over the last decade a number of students have focused on other medical physics specialties as well.

Upon graduation, medical physics students are prepared to receive advanced clinical training through working under the direction of a board-certified medical physicist or entering a medical physics residency program. The students will be prepared for a career as:

  • A professional clinical medical physicist.
  • A medical physicist in a research laboratory.
  • A medical physicist in industry.
  • For Ph.D. students, career as a medical physicist in an academic environment.
  • For MS students, further research training in a Ph.D. medical physics program.
For more information please visit the UMass Lowell online Academic Graduate Catalog.

Qualification for Admission

Applicants are expected to have a strong foundation in physics, documented by either a degree in physics or in a related engineering or physical science with the following undergraduate coursework at the minimum:

  • Physics: Core physics courses, including two semesters of general physics plus classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics or quantum mechanics;
  • Mathematics: Three semesters of calculus and one semester of differential equations;
  • Computer Science: Proficiency in a scientific/engineering programming language and knowledge of fundamental numerical methods;
  • Chemistry (preferred): Two semesters of general chemistry;
  • Biology (preferred): One semester of general biology;
  • Anatomy (preferred): One semester of human anatomy. Although anatomy is not a requirement for admission, completion of an appropriate anatomy course is a requirement before graduation.

Successful applicants typically have an undergraduate major in physics, engineering, or a similar technical field. Students with other undergraduate degrees may be accepted if the prerequisite coursework is satisfied. Applicants with minor deficiencies, such as the undergraduate anatomy course, may be admitted with the provision of satisfying the prerequisite during the first year of graduate study.

The application deadline is normally the last day of February. Further information on the graduate admission process, including on-line and downloadable application forms, may be accessed at the UMass Lowell Graduate Admission website.

Medical Physics and Radiological Science Faculty, Research and Resources