Applications and Finances

NSCL realizes education is not cheap these days, which is why our Ph.D. students receive sufficient support to allow them to complete the doctoral program without the need for other sources of income or loans, provided they make adequate progress on their Ph.D. thesis. Usually, this support consists of half-time graduate teaching assistantships in the first year and half-time graduate research assistantships after advancement to Ph.D. candidacy and in the summer months. Half-time assistantships include a waiver for tuition and matriculation fees for all recommended physics and chemistry courses in addition to health insurance. A higher stipend is provided after the graduate student advances to candidacy to the Ph.D. degree.


Graduate student Jenna Smith works on the modular neutron array (MoNA).

Especially qualified incoming graduate students are considered and nominated for a limited number of honorific fellowships, e.g., the NSCL Fellowship, the College of Natural Science Fellowship and University Fellowships. NSCL guarantees the fellowship level of support for up to four years, provided the student makes good progress towards the completion of her or his doctoral degree and remains in good academic standing.

To apply for one of the research assistantships NSCL provides for doctoral students in nuclear physics, accelerator physics and nuclear chemistry, see the instructions below.

As doctoral degrees are granted either in the Department of Physics and Astronomy or in the Department of Chemistry, apply directly to either department and indicate on your application that you are interested in nuclear physics, accelerator physics or nuclear chemistry.

We encourage you to take the GRE in late fall and to apply early (before the end December). We start making offers for assistantships in January and continue until our positions are filled, but no later than April 15. Especially qualified incoming graduate students are automatically considered for additional fellowships if the application is complete by January 1.


Graduate student Brad Barquest tweaks the low energy beam ion trap (LEBIT).

You are welcome to contact the NSCL faculty person in charge of graduate student recruiting directly by e-mail or phone: Professor Michael Thoennessen (517-908-7323) for Physics and Professor Paul Mantica (517-333-6456) for Chemistry.

Well-qualified applicants residing in North America will be invited to visit NSCL. You will have a chance to see the exciting research atmosphere at NSCL and get to know some of our current graduate students.
Many graduate students who want to pursue their doctoral research at NSCL spend the summer prior to entering graduate school at NSCL. Let us know during the application process if you are interested in this opportunity.

Once accepted, you can contact our Associate Director for Education, Prof. Michael Thoennessen to discuss your plans. He will suggest a few faculty whom you might want to talk to. If you think you want to work with one of them and the faculty person agrees, you will do a research project with that person. During the summer months, students with plans to pursue a Ph.D. in nuclear science or accelerator physics are supported by summer research assistantships. If things work out—and they usually do—the faculty person can become your academic advisor.

Once it is clear that you will start researching at the NSCL, everything is straightforward. You will see Amanda Alter (alter@nscl.msu.edu, 517-908-7148) to schedule your induction program, which includes getting a kaey and making arrangements to have your picture taken for the online directory. During your induction, you will have a brief tour of the building and arrange for safety training.
If you live far away or overseas, and need help in organizing a place to stay or live or a ride from the airport, or anything else for that matter, please let us know. Tell the faculty person or the graduate student with whom you are in contact already. Or let Jennifer Carducci know (carducci@nscl.msu.edu, 517-908-7332). We will help you get going.