Graduate Studies

Thank you for your interest in MSU’s nuclear physics graduate program.

bestRanked #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, MSU’s program leverages the National Superconducting Cyclotron (NSCL) and the next-generation facility under construction now, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). 

FRIB will be the world’s leading rare isotope facility, opening new nuclear science frontiers.

Earn your graduate degree from the nation’s top-ranked program, by working with the world’s top faculty and staff in experimental and theoretical nuclear physics and astrophysics, as well as in accelerator physics and engineering. Our graduates are well prepared for outstanding careers in research, education, and industry. 

Explore the links below and at right to learn more about our facilities, faculty, and our program.

Application deadlines are approaching fast. Apply today!

To apply, you must go through the appropriate academic department. Please visit the following application sites:


Please let us know when you apply so we can look for your application at the appropriate department.

We invite you to contact the NSCL faculty person in charge of graduate student recruiting directly:

You may also direct questions to

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to modify the modality of our instruction and research endeavors, however, we remain committed to providing students world-class education and research opportunities. Learn more about MSU’s COVID response at

Laboratory snapshot

NSCL is unique: a national laboratory based on a university campus. Graduate students from the Physics & Astronomy and Chemistry departments, as well as from the College of Engineering conduct research in experimental, theoretical and astrophysical nuclear physics, as well as in Accelerator Science and Engineering and applied research. 

FRIB is a new scientific user facility for nuclear science, funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), Michigan State University (MSU), and the State of Michigan. It will commence user operation in 2022. While FRIB is under construction, NSCL continues to operate with rare-isotope beams provided by the Coupled Cyclotron Facility and to develop novel experimental equipment that enable cutting-edge science now, and in the future with FRIB.

Graduate research

Strong programs in theoretical nuclear physics and astrophysics guide the experimental program. Consequently, a wide variety of graduate research projects are available. Essential to a doctoral degree is to develop and then demonstrate the ability to conduct vital, independent research. The strong interaction between the experimental and theoretical scientists, and the frequent visitors and users of the facility, create an open and academically stimulating atmosphere.

Our process

Accepted applicants residing in North America will be invited to visit NSCL and FRIB. You will have a chance to see the exciting research atmosphere at NSCL and get to know our faculty, graduate students and staff.

Career opportunities  

With an advanced degree related to nuclear physics, you can teach or conduct research at a university or in industry, or get into law, policy making, or financial business. After 50 years, we have an alumni network that includes people in leading positions all over the world. Faculty members, researchers, leaders in industry and executives with major corporations can all be found in this group. Not only can they help you make a decision on your future career path, they can help you get you there.

MSU campus

MSU is considered one of the most beautiful university campuses in the nation. The Red Cedar River flows through it, connecting the traditional ivy-covered brick buildings of the original campus with the newer facilities, such as the state-of-the-art science building, the athletic complex, the medical and law colleges, and the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. At the heart of the campus—and of MSU’s land grant heritage—is a magnificent 140-year-old horticultural garden, its park-like beauty setting the tone for all landscaping throughout the campus. In combination with the outstanding research opportunities, it is no wonder that researchers from all over the world come to MSU to perform research, making the campus a diverse community with people from a wide range of ethnic, racial, political and religious backgrounds.