Medical Physics

Medical physicists work in clinics, hospitals, and medical schools to consult with providers and patients about safe and effective strategies for diagnostic radiology or radiation therapy. After completing graduate work (M.S. or Ph.D.) in physics, medical physics, or radiation therapy, medical physicists often spend a few years doing a residency traineeship or postdoctoral program at a hospital. They may specialize in subfields such as therapeutic radiological physics, diagnostic radiological physics, medical nuclear physics, or medical health physics and take a certification examination administered by the American Board of Radiology or the American Board of Medical Physics.

  • Therapeutic radiological medical physicists measure and characterize radiation, determine delivery dosage, establish protocols for ensuring accurate patient dosimetry, and collaborate with radiation oncologists to design treatment plans, monitor equipment, and insure that cancer patients receive the prescribed dosage of radiation to the correct location.
  • Diagnostic radiological physicists improve the effectiveness of angiography, computerized tomography (CT), dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound imaging.
  • Medical nuclear physicists work with the therapeutic and diagnostic uses of radionuclides, but not with sealed sources of gamma rays as in radiation therapy.
  • Medical health physicists dedicate their careers to the safe use of gamma rays, X-rays, electron/neutron beams, and sealed radionuclide sources and conduct radiation surveys to better serve their patients and institutions.

Licensure to work as a medical physicist is only required for working in hospitals in the states of Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Texas.

Student Resources

Professional Associations and Accreditation

Entrance Exam

Typically, graduate programs offering advanced physics degrees (M.S. or Ph.D.) require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for admission. Learn more about the GRE here.

Selected Regional Programs

Important Note:

Consult the admissions/application web pages of the professional programs for information on required pre-requisite courses and admissions tests, application procedures, and application deadlines. Some professional/graduate programs will not accept AP or CLEP credits, online courses, or correspondence courses for the core science and math pre-requisite requirements. Many programs also require that all pre-requisite coursework be completed within a certain period of time, e.g., within 5 years prior to application. Policies vary by school and program. Be sure you know the requirements.