Overview of Ph.D. Program

Medical & Health Physics

Overview & Program Goals

To meet the ongoing demand of university hospitals, clinics, and industry for medical physicists trained in research and clinical medical physics, LSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a concentration in Medical Physics for its Ph.D. in Physics degree. The Ph.D. degree program provides students with

  • a fundamental knowledge of medical physics;
  • advanced courses in medical physics, physics, and other fields; and
  • advanced research training in a particular subfield of medical physics.

The Ph.D. curriculum requires a core medical physics component of 11 courses (27 credit hours), a course in human anatomy (3 credit hours), 9 credit hours of advanced medical physics courses, 6 hours of outside electives, and research credit hours as recommended by the student’s supervisory committee. Students must complete a written Qualifying Exam, an oral General Exam (typically the dissertation proposal), and a Final Examination / oral Dissertation Defense. Students are required to complete a dissertation based on hypothesis-driven research. Dissertation research should begin by the end of the second year and typically requires approximately 3 years of effort. The results of the dissertation are expected to result in multiple publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The full program of study is expected to take 5 years for the typical Ph.D. student.

Objectives - Medical Physics

The Ph.D. Program is designed for individuals who wish to be educated in medical physics with emphasis in research.  The Program’s objective is to provide a general knowledge of medical physics along with research training in a particular subfield of medical physics. The Ph.D. degree will prepare the student for:

  • An entry level research position, i.e., postdoctoral fellow position in an academic medical physics department,
  • A medical physics residency position under the supervision of a board-certified medical physicist in a clinical environment, or
  • A career as a medical physicist researcher in a clinical-support industry.

Students pursuing a clinical career should expect to acquire comprehensive clinical training through a CAMPEP-accredited medical physics residency program. Most medical physicists pursue ABR professional certification exam in medical physics; M.S. in medical physics students typically take Part I of the ABR exam at the end of their second year of graduate study. Since 2014, eligibility for the American Board of Radiology Part 2 or Part 3 examinations in medical physics requires that candidates must have completed a CAMPEP-accredited residency program.

Medical Physics Ph.D. Curriculum

The PhD degree with concentration in medical physics requires a minimum of 54 credit hours of course work and dissertation research. Consult the LSU General Catalog for specific degree requirements, course descriptions, and related information. Anticipated time to degree completion is 5 years for the typical student.  Students can earn an MS degree along the way to the PhD degree; this is decided in consultation with the student’s research supervisor, and depends on student career goals, supervisor preferences, etc.

The typical medical physics PhD student completes the core courses listed below (credits hours are listed for each course).

MEDP 4111 Introduction to Medical Imaging (3)
MEDP 4331 Radiation Protection and Exposure Evaluation (3)
MEDP 4351 Radiation Detection and Instrumentation (2)
MEDP 4352 Radiation Detection Laboratory (1)
MEDP 7111 Advanced Medical Imaging Physics (3)
MEDP 7121 Radiobiology (3)
MEDP 7260 Clinical Medical Physics Rotation (4)
MEDP 7331 Radiation Therapy Physics (3)
MEDP 7530 Radiation Shielding and Accelerators (3)
MEDP 7537 Radiation Interactions and Transport (3)
MEDP 7995 Seminar (1)
PHYS 9000 Dissertation Research (1-12 per sem.)

Additional advanced elective coursework in medical physics, physics, and other fields is also completed; examples are listed below.

MEDP 7098 Radiation Research Technology and Methods (3)
MEDP 7210 Clinical Principles of Radiation Therapy (3)
MEDP 7270 Advanced Radiation Therapy Physics (3)
MEDP 7538 Monte Carlo Simulation of Radiation Transport (3)
Although not counted towards degree requirements, a course in human anatomy is necessary for eligibility to sit for the American Board of Radiology certification exam in medical physics.

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