Program accreditation
Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs

Program goals

The Ph.D. in Medical Physics offers students course work and research training in physics as it is applied to the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. The mission of the doctoral program is to serve the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation by helping to meet the demand for competent medical physicists in both the health care delivery and biomedical research settings. The program will prepare students for careers as independent investigators in the field of medical physics and jointly for careers in university departments, research institutes, laboratories and hospitals as trainee clinical medical physicists. Research areas include molecular imaging, functional imaging using PET and NMR, cone-beam CT image reconstruction, deformable image registration, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, radiation therapy dose calculations, 4D radiation therapy and brachytherapy dose calculations.

Professional competency: To develop professional competency in medical physics by providing a framework in which students progressively develop a mastery of the current state of medical physics and an ability to synthesize this information and apply it in research and clinical settings. Additionally, the program aims to develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of medical physics knowledge and expression of experimental design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences.

Scientific competency: To develop scientific competency in medical physics by providing a framework by which candidates develop skills to design, conduct and implement theoretical and clinical research which answers identified questions. The research focus may lead to new and/or improved applications of physics for diagnosis and treatment of disease. Candidate research will focus on medical imaging, radiation therapy, radiation metrology or other burgeoning areas of investigation. In broad terms, candidate research will be directed toward advancing "minimally invasive medicine” through applications of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Communication skills: The candidate should demonstrate that an appropriate level of oral, written and visual communication skills have been acquired. The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of oral communication skills with respect to the content, organization, logical flow, presentation and appropriate use of language incorporating the use of visual aids, as measured by rubric. The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of written communication skill with respect to grammar, syntax, spelling and use of vocabulary to effectively present information including the use of figures, tables and citations as measured by rubric.
  2. Experimental design: The candidate should demonstrate an appropriate level of skill in the theoretical and technical design of experimental procedures and the technical conduct of experimentation related to his or her research. This includes demonstration of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify and/or create, and implement experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments as measured by rubric.
  3. Knowledge of medical physics literature: The candidate should demonstrate a general knowledge of medical physics literature and a more detailed knowledge of his or her area of research, including an appropriate familiarity with the research literature and the ability to evaluate and critique publications as measured by rubric.
  4. Problem-solving: The candidate should demonstrate an appropriate level of skill in the identification of meaningful medical physics research problems, including the ability to defend said identifications, and the design and implementation of appropriate problem-solving methods as measured by rubric.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

The medical physics graduate program student handbook is available at

School of Medicine graduate program policies

The School of Medicine provides policies applicable to all programs administratively housed in the school. Information on doctoral programs is available in the Graduate Bulletin.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D.FallJan 15GRE

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School and the School of Medicine, students are expected to satisfy the following minimum standards for admission.

  1. Students must have a minimum of 30 credit hours in undergraduate physics, physical science or engineering, of which at least 18 credit hours must be at the upper level. Background courses should include calculus one and two, linear algebra, differential equations, modern physics, and electricity and magnetism physics.
  2. Students must submit satisfactory GRE scores.
  3. Applicants must present a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale for the undergraduate degree or most recently completed graduate degree.

Provisional admission may be granted where deficiencies exist. These deficiencies must be removed by the end of the first year of residence, or its part-time equivalent, when the student’s application will be re-examined. Courses that are designed to remove deficiencies will not be accepted for credit hours toward the graduate degree.

Degree requirements

In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students entering the program with an undergraduate degree are required to earn a minimum of 30 credit hours in didactic or laboratory course work. Students entering with a master’s degree in medical physics, physics or an appropriate related field are required to earn a minimum of 18 credit hours. In addition to course work, the Ph.D. requires a minimum of 12 credit hours in MEDP 697 Directed Research. At least half of the course work must be earned at the 600 level or higher. Detailed degree requirements are listed below and in the medical physics graduate handbook.

All new Ph.D. students entering the program will be assigned an adviser. After successful completion of the written comprehensive exam, students and advisers will develop a graduate dissertation committee. The committee will direct the students in their research and subsequent course selection. Advisers will report once a semester to the program director on the academic progress of their students and will administer the oral candidacy and dissertation defense examinations.

The student is required to complete written and oral examinations to be admitted as a Ph.D. candidate. The written comprehensive examination covers core knowledge and applications in medical physics course work, as well as basic concepts in physics, chemistry and biology. The oral examination, administered by the student’s graduate dissertation committee, is based upon a written prospectus describing the proposed dissertation research project. Examiners evaluate the adequacy of the proposed project, the student’s level of understanding of the project and the likelihood that the dissertation can be completed successfully.

After being approved for degree candidacy, the student must conduct substantial original investigation under the supervision of the advisers and must prepare a dissertation reporting the results of the research in the context of existing scientific knowledge. After the dissertation has been completed and unanimously accepted for defense by the graduate dissertation committee, the candidate will appear before the committee for an oral defense. The oral dissertation defense examines the candidate’s research, dissertation documentation and underlying fundamental knowledge. Upon successful completion of the defense and dissertation, the student may apply for graduation with a Ph.D. in Medical Physics.

Curriculum requirements

Recommended core courses

MEDP   561Topographical Anatomy and Physiology1
MEDP   563Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry4
MEDP   567Introduction to Radiation Therapy Physics3
MEDP   601Health Physics3
MEDP   630Radiobiology for the Medical Physicist3
MEDP   633Advanced Radiation Therapy Physics4
MEDP   635Physics of Diagnostic Imaging3
MEDP   636Physics of MRI3
MEDP   637Physics of Nuclear Medicine2
MEDP   689Medical Physics Literature Review1
Total Hours27

Recommended electives

Select three credit hours from the following:3
Statistical Methods I
Statistical Methods II
Clinical Rotations in Medical Physics (variable credits, may be repeated)
Applied Data Analysis
Select only one of the following:
Scientific Integrity
Responsible Scientific Conduct
Responsible Conduct of Research
Total Hours3

Directed research

MEDP   697Directed Research (minimum of 12 credits)12

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 42

Typical plan of study

Many students often end up taking more than the minimum number of hours required for a degree program. The total number of hours may vary depending upon the program, nature of research being conducted by a study, or in the enrollment or funding status of the student. Students should refer to their program websites and talk with their graduate program directors or advisers for information about typical plans of study and registration requirements.

Graduate program director
Geoffrey D. Hugo, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
(804) 628-7780

Additional contact
Katie Goracke
Medical physics education coordinator
(804) 628-7780

Program website: