Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Physics
Frequently Asked Questions
The field of clinical medical physics has been slowly transitioning to match other medical specialties and now requires specialized didactic coursework followed by clinical training, culminating in certification examinations. This process mirrors the requirements for other medical personnel who directly impact patient care. Visit the ABR website for more information about these requirements.
As of 2012, candidates are no longer eligible to enter the American Board of Radiology (ABR) exam process without didactic coursework in medical physics from a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program. After 2014, requirements became even more stringent, requiring candidates to complete both CAMPEP-approved didactic coursework in addition to CAMPEP-approved residency training.
If you have a PhD in physics, you can meet the didactic requirements by obtaining a Medical Physics certificate from the CAMPEP-approved certificate program at the University of Chicago. We expect that graduates of the certificate program will continue on to a two-year medical physics residency to obtain clinical training.
A certificate program is designed to provide the didactic coursework required to re-train an individual for entry into the field of clinical medical physics as outlined in the guidelines of AAPM Task Group Report 197S.
Over the course of an academic year (three quarters from October through June), students will complete eight courses (100 units each) and two courses (50 units each) to enable them to meet the requirements of TG-197S. Please visit our curriculum page for a complete list of courses and course descriptions.
Unlike other institutions, the University of Chicago does not offer a terminal MS degree in medical physics. In general, MS programs offer didactic coursework in addition to preliminary research training. Most programs take over a year to complete. By contrast, our certificate program can be completed in a single three-quarter academic year of full-time study. Candidates who already possess a PhD in Physics have received advanced research training and thus can simply meet the didactic requirements required for retraining into the field of clinical medical physics.
As a rule, assistantships, grants, scholarships, and fellowships are not available to students in certificate programs, including the medical physics certificate program. To learn more about student loan availability and eligibility, contact the Student Loan Administration on campus.
A PhD in physics from an accredited US institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for admission. To be eligible for ABR certification exams, you must have taken at least three 300-level (i.e., upper-level) undergraduate physics courses if your undergraduate major was not in physics.
No clinical training is required to enter the certificate program. Clinical exposure provides certificate candidates with a clearer understanding of the day to-day activities required of a clinical physicist. Each candidate is encouraged to fully investigate the field of clinical medical physics prior to enrolling in a certificate program to ensure that this career transition will be a good fit. Note that clinical experience will be obtained during the medical physics residency.
No GRE scores are required because the certificate is a post-graduate training program.
A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. We look at all grades, but more closely at physics and math grades; we are looking for well-prepared applicants with a strong background in physics and math
Applicants must have a PhD from a US, Canadian, or international university. TOEFL or IELTS scores are not required for US or Canadian applicants, but required for international applicants. Please review the TOEFL/IELTS requirements set by the University of Chicago.
Applications are accepted online beginning January 1 of each year and are reviewed on a rolling basis. As long as space is available in the certificate program and the deadline hasn't passed, applications will be considered. Be advised that since the program practices rolling admissions, places may fill prior to the listed application deadline. Interested applicants are advised to submit their materials early.
The faculty committee will review material and make admissions decisions on a rolling basis. Deferrals for accepted applicants will not be granted; students who wish to defer will need to reapply for the following year.
Prospective students are encouraged to visit. We would be happy to arrange for you to visit the facilities and to meet with current students/trainees as well as one or more faculty members. Please email Program Coordinator Hania Al-Hallaq.
A maximum of three courses (out of the total eight required credit courses) may be transferred. This decision will be made prior to enrollment in September. Following the The medical physics faculty's review of the detailed syllabi and course materials covered in each course must approve all transfer credits. The faculty will review the syllabi to ensure that they meet the requirements set forth in TG-197S. It is the student’s responsibility to petition for credit and to provide these course materials in a timely fashion.
Part-time students will be considered if the maximum enrollment of six students has not been met. Required courses must be taken in a particular sequence and are only offered once a year, leading to potential scheduling delays for part-time study. Inquiries regarding this possibility will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
No. Since the certificate program is to be completed in a single year of academic study, priority will be given to those wishing to enroll in the current academic year. Students who have been accepted and who wish to defer will be required to re-apply the following year.
Our program is designed to provide students with didactic coursework to prepare for residency training, during which clinical training is provided. Of the eight credit courses, one is a practicum class in Radiation Therapy enabling students to bring their didactic training into a laboratory/clinical setting. Beyond this practicum, no clinical experience is provided. As encouraged by CAMPEP, clinical training should be obtained during the diagnostic or therapeutic residency.
No. Rather, students must pass each credit course with a grade of B or higher, and non-credit courses at the Pass level.
Although the graduate program does not provide specific American Board of Radiology (ABR) test preparation, the courses are designed to impart the scientific knowledge necessary to become a qualified clinical medical physicist as outlined in TG-197S. Please visit the ABR website for details.
Yes. The University of Chicago offers two-year CAMPEP-accredited clinical residencies specializing in both imaging and therapeutic physics. These programs admit one resident each for a start date of July 1 of each calendar year. Acceptance into these residency programs is extremely competitive and is not linked to completion of either the certificate program or the graduate program at the University of Chicago.
Medical physics faculty members—leaders in their field who specialize in medical physics research and clinical practice—provide instruction. View a listing of faculty and staff in the Committee on Medical Physics.
The University of Chicago has a long and distinguished history of training medical physicists. Started in 1958, our graduate program was one of the first in the country. It has produced many leaders in the field. Further, our certificate program was the first CAMPEP-accredited program of its kind in the US. This highlights the faculty’s commitment to ensuring that highly qualified physicists continue to enter the field of medical physics.
Students in our residency program will interact with students in our graduate program. Certificate students can avail themselves of the many opportunities given to our graduate students, including seminars given by invited outside speakers, our faculty, and our graduate students; special lunches with invited speakers; and access to our medical physics library as well as the other libraries on campus.
There are currently more than fifty CAMPEP-approved residency programs throughout the nation, with additional programs being accredited continually. While the certificate program does not guarantee graduates a residency position, it does allow them to compete with other graduates of CAMPEP-approved graduate programs on an equal footing. Additionally, the Graduate Program in Medical Physics (GPMP) offers plenty of opportunities for networking by inviting prominent medical physicists to speak to students on our campus. Furthermore, faculty will support your residency application in a mutually agreed-upon manner. To enhance interaction with faculty outside the classroom, students are encouraged to network and volunteer in faculty laboratories.