Frequently Asked Questions
Our goal is to provide you with the information you need. Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you can't find what you are looking for, please don't hestitate to contact us at any time.
What do I need to know in order to apply for the University of Cincinnati Graduate Program in Medical Physics?
Please feel free to call or e-mail us anytime with questions about admissions. You can also access information on to how apply here.
Senior Thesis/Final Grades
The application deadline is Feb. 1. However, by Feb. 1, I won’t have final grades yet for my winter or spring courses. How do you deal with that? Also, I have some one full year courses (ex: undergraduate honors thesis). My honors thesis may be a significant factor for my application package, but it won't be completed before the Feb. 1 deadline. Can I still send what I have by that time?
Regarding final grades, most applicants in their senior year of undergraduate study will be in your situation, and this is not a problem. The faculty will base their admission decisions on the grades available by Feb. 1. Students who are admitted must submit final transcripts to this program when they graduate.
Most physics majors do not complete a senior thesis, but if this is an undergraduate requirement you have completed, you may certainly send your senior thesis proposal. (Note: it should be brief, the length of an abstract. If you are unsure, look in any peer-reviewed journal to get an idea of the format for an abstract; most are under a limit of 250-500 word.)
In fact, research is an important component of this degree program, and the faculty are interested in your potential for academic, scholarly presentations and publications during your graduate studies. You might consider asking your advisor to help you submit your proposal as an abstract for presenting at a conference, or for publication in a journal. Preparing research for presentation or publication and simply submitting it is a significant step to take in academic work; the faculty here would view it favorably, even if it’s not accepted.
What are the faculty looking for in applicants to the program? May I include any extra activities and experiences which the committee may find it interesting? If so, should I present those in a resume or should I mention those in the personal statement?
Prerequisites: The program admits students with the expectation that following graduation, they will sit for the American Board of Radiology certification exams in Medical Physics. To that end, students must meet the following ABR minimum undergraduate course requirements:
- Physics: at least 2 years of calculus-based Physics (not algebra-based):
-Intro to Physics (level 1), 3 quarters or 2 semesters, 10 semester-15 quarter credit hours.
-Intermediate Physics (level 2), 3 quarters or 2 semesters, 10 semester-15 quarter credit hours; and
- Mathematics: calculus through differential equations (level 4 or 5), 6 quarters or 4 semesters, 12 semester-18 quarter credit hours.
- The program is designed for students who have completed a major in undergraduate Physics (bachelor's degree), or at least a minor in Physics. Technical degrees such as Radiation Therapy, Dosimetry, or an associate’s degree in Medical Physics do not provide a suitable academic background for this program.
The faculty are seeking to fill the program with the strongest possible candidates, who have a commitment to service and an excellent background in physics (for physics majors, as distinct from physics for engineering or health physics, which are different courses), with advanced math courses to support the study of physics.
Yes, you may include information about your extracurricular activities and experiences that may be of interest to the committee. It would be your decision how to present that information. Listing them briefly on a resume would be fine; if you mention them in your personal statement, please explain what you learned from them, or why they were important in preparing you for your chosen future career.
Clinical medical physics is a service-oriented career, so service-oriented activities will be more relevant than purely recreational activities. And, like undergraduate applications, activities that demonstrate maturity, reliability, responsibility and leadership will favorably support your application.
You should also keep in mind that because UC is now one of a limited number of programs accredited by CAMPEP, the pool of applicants is growing larger and more competitive. Think about what will make you stand out to the committee.
While extracurricular activities are potentially valuable in shaping a person's character and values, the faculty must base their decision primarily on the following criteria:
- Academic preparation and excellence (physics and math courses that meet ABR standards; see item No. 8 below);
- Comparing GPA and GRE scores within the applicant pool;
- Personal statement of purpose;
- Letters of recommendation (Note: these letters should be requested from three (3) physics professors, other faculty who have supervised your research, or medical physicists with whom you've worked or volunteered--professionals who can speak to your preparation and potential in the areas of academic performance, research and clinical skills).
Other considerations may include:
- Exposure to the field of medical physics, in one of several ways:
- Assisting in research (either collecting data or helping physics faculty to prepare a study or article);
- Learning about the profession by observing or assisting in the clinical setting with board-certified medical physicists;
- Original research and publishing, especially in material related to medical physics; but original research in any field of physics will be viewed favorably;
- Attending an academic meeting or conference and/or presenting a paper.
Is there "waiting list" for the program?
No. However, all applicants are considered, and the strongest candidates are ranked. Offers are then tenured to the strongest candidates in rank order. Some applicants may decline the UC offer, and the faculty then proceed through the ranked list, making offers to other applicants until all positions are filled.
I would like to visit University of Cincinnati for the facility tour, and to experience the city of Cincinnati as a place to live. Can you help me plan my visit?
You'd be very welcome to visit on one of our scheduled Medical Physics Program visitation days! These occur on the second Friday of October, November and December when classes are in session (refer to UC Academic Calendar).
In 2012, three Medical Physics Program Visitation Days are tentatively scheduled as follows:
Friday, October 12
Friday, November 9
Friday, December 14
Please provide at least two weeks' notice if you are interested in participating in a visitation day. We can then prepare a schedule with faculty and students and arrange for you to observe in the classroom, lab and clinical setting.
You could meet with the program director and current students, tour the College of Medicine, the UC Academic Health Center and the Barrett Cancer Center facility and check out the city of Cincinnati.
How can I learn more about the field of medical physics?
The American Association for Medical Physics (AAPM) is the national professional organization of Medical Physicists. Visit the AAPM website at www.aapm.org. Its website has links that explain every aspect of this career.
- Ask your physics faculty and academic advisor what they know about medical physics and see if they have any helpful contacts or guidance for you.
- Meet ABR-certified medical physicists in the radiation oncology department of the hospital nearest you. Introduce yourself and ask if you can shadow them and learn about their daily work or participate in their research.
- Click on any of the links below in the section "Where UC Alumni Work" to find out about the places where you might work once you are trained as a medical physicist.
How do I choose the program that's right for me?
The AAPM has established an accrediting body, CAMPEP, to evaluate and accredit academic programs that train medical physicists. It provides a complete listing of CAMPEP-accredited programs at its website, along with the criteria for accreditation: www.campep.org.
ABR Board Certification
What is required for a medical physicist to become "board certified"?
Every medical physicist aims to become "board certified." This means that she or he meets the professional standards set by the American Board of Radiology. There are several steps involved, beginning with undergraduate study.
The American Board of Radiology specifies foundational undergraduate coursework, in order for a medical physicist to pursue the process of becoming board certified. If one completes a master’s degree without these undergraduate courses, one is not eligible to apply for board examinations. Hence, this program takes care to not admit any applicant who cannot meet ABR standards. You may wish to read more about ABR standards at its website: http://www.theabr.org/ic/ic_landing.html.