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Quantum Science and Engineering PhD Program

PQI is launching a new PhD program in Quantum Science and Engineering, accepting applications in Fall 2023.

Find full information about the program structure and requirements  from Princeton Graduate School. The application for the program can be found through the Graduate School portal .

The PhD program in Quantum Science and Engineering provides graduate training in a new discipline at the intersection of quantum physics and information theory. Just as the 20th century witnessed a technological and scientific revolution ushered in by our newfound understanding of quantum mechanics, the 21st century now offers the promise of a new class of technologies and lines of scientific inquiry that take full advantage of the more fragile and intricate consequences of quantum mechanics: coherent superposition, projective measurement, and entanglement. This field has broad implications ranging from many-body physics and the creation of new forms of matter to our understanding of the emergence of the classical world and our basic understanding of space and time.  It enables fundamentally new technological applications, including new types of computers that can solve currently intractable problems, communication channels whose security is guaranteed by the laws of physics, and sensors that offer unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution.

The Princeton Quantum Science and Engineering community is unique in its interdisciplinary breadth combined with foundational research in quantum information and quantum matter. Research at Princeton comprises every layer of the quantum technology stack, bringing together many body physics, materials, devices, new quantum hardware platforms, quantum information theory, metrology, algorithms, complexity theory, and computer architecture. This vibrant environment allows for rapid progress at the frontiers of quantum science and technology, with cross pollination among quantum platforms and approaches. The research community strongly values interdisciplinarity, collaboration, depth, and fostering a close-knit community that enables fundamental and impactful advances.

Our curriculum places students in an excellent position to build new quantum systems, discover new technological innovations, become leaders in the emergent quantum industry, and make deep, lasting contributions to quantum information science. The QSE graduate program aims to provide a strong foundation of fundamentals through a three-course core, as well as opportunities to explore the frontiers of current research through electives. First year students are also required to take a seminar course that is associated with the Princeton Quantum Colloquium, in which they closely read the associated literature and discuss the papers. Our curriculum has a unique emphasis on learning how to read and understand current literature over a large range of topics. The curriculum is complemented by many opportunities at PQI for scientific interaction and professional development. A major goal of the program is to help form a tight-knit graduate student cohort that spans disciplines and research topics, united by a common language. 

Most students enter the program with an undergraduate degree in physics, electrical engineering, computer science, chemistry, materials science, or a related discipline. When you apply, you should indicate what broad research areas you are interested in: Quantum Systems Experiment, Quantum Systems Theory, Quantum Materials Science, or Quantum Computer Science.

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Top 20 Quantum Computing Masters & Ph.D. Degree Programs in 2024

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  • June 6, 2022

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Quantum Computing Masters & Ph.D. Degree Programs

Because quantum computing requires a background in research, it’s important for those entering the quantum workforce to go through one of the many rigorous quantum computing Ph.D. or master’s programs.

There are many universities around the world offering quantum computing as a graduate program. Many of them have also spawned some of the biggest names in quantum computing, allowing a bridge to form between research and industry. This is especially beneficial for students looking to transition from academia into a quantum computing job .

While the choices of quantum computing degree programs seem nearly endless, we at Quantum Insider want to offer a summarized list of what we believe are a few of the top ones to get a Ph.D. or master’s in quantum computing. This is not at all exhausting as many universities continue to advance their quantum computing programs or work with companies to help enhance opportunities for their students.

We’ve organized a list of the top 20 quantum computing master’s and Ph.D. programs to get a degree in 2024. Enjoy!

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20 Quantum Computing Degree Programs

1. mit’s lincoln laboratory.

It’s no surprise that the top quantum computing graduate programs are hosted by some of the most prestigious schools. MIT is no exception, as its Lincoln Laboratory studies integrated nano-systems and quantum information. MIT’s masters in quantum computing focus on trapped-ion qubits as well as designing integrated quantum circuits. The laboratory offers several different projects to work on, all with real-world applications.

2. University of California Berkeley

UC Berkeley is one of the many universities in California looking into quantum computing , mimicking the hub of activity by quantum companies in that area. The Berkeley Lab works on harnessing quantum computing to help solve real-world issues. With research topics ranging from quantum materials to even training the quantum workforce, UC Berkeley’s quantum computing masters program offers a multi-disciplinary approach.

3. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is one of the top quantum computing universities as it is home to the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE). The CQE connects other universities in the Midwest, as well as companies and other organizations to discuss developments in quantum technology. Because of the CQE, their quantum computing graduate students get exclusive networking opportunities and the ability to work on cutting-edge research.

4. University of Maryland’s Joint Quantum Institute (JQI)

The University of Maryland’s JQI offers a unique experience for students, as it includes quantum scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland, and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS). With this diversity in researchers, students have a wide range of quantum degree programs to choose from, including theoretical and experimental quantum physics.

5. University of Southern California’s Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology (CQIST)

Like UC Berkeley, USC’S CQIST focuses on quantum information science. However, its main focuses are on quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum information theory. To research these subjects in their master’s and Ph.D. programs, CQIST brings in experts from both the school of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, giving all students an interdisciplinary focus on quantum computing technology.

6. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Studying quantum computing at Caltech, students become part of the university’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter ( IQIM ). This institute is a National Science Foundation Physics Frontier Center , one of many government centers that encourage global collaboration and offer unique opportunities to quantum computing masters and Ph.D. students. These centers also work to give extra activities to enhance student education.

7. Stanford University

Stanford University has multiple researchers studying quantum computing, including the Q-Farm , an acronym standing for Quantum Fundamentals, Architectures, and Machine learning initiative. Q-Farm collaborates with Stanford’s National Acceleration Laboratory ( SLAC ) to develop answers to some of the biggest challenges for quantum computing.

8. Harvard University

Harvard University hosts the Harvard Quantum Initiative , which recently released a new quantum computing Ph.D. program in quantum science and engineering. The Harvard Quantum Initiative has a bustling hub of researchers focusing on properly training the next quantum workforce, while also working with industry partners to advance this technology. They offer a prize for Ph.D. researchers in quantum engineering as well as several summer research programs.

9. Carnegie Mellon University

The Pittsburgh Quantum Institute ( PQI ) at Carnegie Mellon University hosts over 100 members and workers to create a multidisciplinary quantum computing graduate program that involves engineering, business, philosophy of science, and other fields. PQI offers many opportunities to its quantum engineering students, including travel awards, poster sessions, public lectures, and outreach activities. The PQI also works closely with other centers, like the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, to work on this next-generation quantum technology.

10. University of Colorado Boulder

Within the University of Colorado Boulder lies JILA , a leading quantum physics degree institute created by a partnership between the University and NIST. JILA hosts its own NSF Physics Frontier Center, as well as several other centers focused on quantum computing and laser systems. Several of the scientists within JILA work closely with quantum computing companies, allowing their master’s and Ph.D. students better networking opportunities within Colorado, a growing hub of quantum activity.

11. The University of Waterloo

Canada’s University of Waterloo is one of the best well-known universities for quantum computing due to its Institute for Quantum Computing . With over 29 faculty members and 300 researchers, their quantum computing Ph.D. program works to train the next generation of the quantum workforce through global collaborations involving other universities, organizations, and quantum companies.

12. The University of Bristol

Both the Bristol Quantum Information Institute and its Quantum Engineering Technology labs help make the university one of the top places to get a Ph.D. or master’s in quantum computing. The Quantum Engineering Technology Labs develop prototypes for quantum applications, from computing to sensing to simulations. With a group of mentors and advisors, students of this quantum computing degree program will learn more about the career paths within this field and be assisted in their journey.

13. The University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge has bolstered its reputation in quantum computing due to the company spin-offs from the university. Within the university are many research groups that study quantum devices and nano-systems. Because of its reputation, the University of Cambridge brings opportunities for network connections within the UK’s quantum hub.

14. Oxford University

Perhaps the largest center for quantum research in the UK, Oxford University ‘s quantum computing graduate program hosts 38 different research teams and over 200 researchers. As their focus is to harness the power of quantum computing, students get hands-on experience developing next-level quantum technology, while being in the center of the UK’s quantum network.

15. Ecole Polytechnique

The Institut Polytechnique de Paris is one of France’s most prestigious universities, as it hosts the Center for Theoretical Physics ( CPHT ). Their quantum physics degree programs offer students a wide range of physics topics, from condensed matter to particle physics.

16. Delft University of Technology

Located in the Netherlands, Delft University’s Department of Quantum and Computer Engineering ( QCE ) combines computer science with quantum computing. In their quantum engineering degree program, students research quantum architecture and circuitry, combining it with computer design.

17. Austrian Academy of Sciences

The Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information ( IQOQI ) lies within the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Their quantum computing degree programs range from quantum optics to superconducting quantum circuits to quantum nanophysics. With a large staff of researchers and scientists, this quantum computing university sits right in the middle of the quantum hub in Europe.

18. University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)

The USTC’s Division of Quantum Physics and Quantum Information is a world leader in quantum computing research. Scientists and students at this center focus on fiber-based quantum communication, free-space quantum communication, quantum memory, superconducting quantum computing, quantum simulation, and many other fields. With an electronics shop and over 37 faculty members, the USTC will no doubt continue to be one of the leading quantum computing degree programs.

19. The National University of Singapore (NUS)

The NUS’s Center for Quantum Technologies ( CQT ) focuses on bringing quantum computing students and scientists from around the world together to develop quantum devices. The CQT focuses on quantum research and education as well as quantum technology. Every year, the CQT runs a short-film competition about quantum technology called Quantum Shorts .

20. The University of Sydney

The University of Sydney is a growing location for quantum computing research, partially due to Australia’s first quantum computing conference last year. Research at the University of Sydney ranges from theoretical to experimental, offering a wide range of quantum computing masters and Ph.D. programs for graduate students. The University also works with many different organizations, including the Sydney Quantum Academy.

If you found this article to be informative, make sure to explore more of the current quantum technology news  here . If you would like to explore enterprise end users of quantum in more detail, you should check out our dedicated  market intelligence platform .

If you found this article to be informative, you can explore more current quantum news here , exclusives, interviews, and podcasts.

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Best Doctorates in Quantum Computing: Top PhD Programs, Career Paths, and Salaries

After earning a master’s degree, most graduates set their sights on a doctoral degree or PhD. A PhD is the highest level of education, and earning this esteemed degree will skyrocket your employability potential, industry credibility, and salary range. In this article, we share the best PhDs in Quantum Computing and the expected PhD in Quantum Computing salary.

Besides being highly paid, this field of study offers many exciting opportunities to work with pioneering theory in quantum information technology. PhD in Quantum Computing students will participate in ground-breaking research and upon graduation will be eligible for the best quantum computing jobs in the tech industry.

Find your bootcamp match

What is a phd in quantum computing.

A PhD in Quantum Computing is the highest level of education for professionals in quantum technology. The degree takes four to six years to complete and covers different quantum computing theories, including quantum simulation, quantum sensing, quantum communication, and quantum information theory. The PhD degree facilitates advanced research and facilitates innovative discoveries.

How to Get Into a Quantum Computing PhD Program: Admission Requirements

The core requirements to get into a quantum computing PhD program are a master’s degree in computer science, math, physics, or a related field, a resume highlighting your work experience, letters of recommendation, and a GRE or GMAT score. Additional admission requirements include application fees, English proficiency test scores, transcripts, a statement of purpose, essays, and a high GPA.

Generally, these are the minimum PhD admission requirements, but the prerequisites can differ from school to school. You will find a detailed list of requirements on the selected school’s website.

PhD in Quantum Computing Admission Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Master’s degree in Physics, Computer Science, or a related field
  • GRE, GMAT, and English proficiency test scores
  • Two or three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Transcripts

Quantum Computing PhD Acceptance Rates: How Hard Is It to Get Into a PhD Program in Quantum Computing?

It is extremely hard to get into a PhD program in quantum computing. Quantum computing is difficult to learn, and a PhD demands a lot of attention to detail, research, and one-on-one interactions between students and professors. That means that universities maintain small class sizes to ensure student success.

The Council of Graduate Schools survey indicates that the overall PhD acceptance rate is 22.3 percent . Public universities accept approximately 26.4 percent of applicants, while private universities accept 16.3 percent of applicants. These numbers will vary by school. For example, the University of South Carolina admits 10-15 percent of its PhD applicants , and Harvard University admits approximately seven percent of the doctoral degree applicants.

How to Get Into the Best Universities

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Best PhDs in Quantum Computing: In Brief

School Program Online Option
California Institute of Technology PhD in Computing and Mathematical Sciences No
Capitol Technology University PhD in Quantum Computing Yes
Harvard University PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering Yes
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD in Physics, Statistics, Data Science No
Purdue University PhD in Physics No
University of California, Berkeley PhD in Physics No
University of Chicago PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering No
University of Maryland PhD in Computer Science Yes
University of Oxford PhD in Computer Science No
University of Waterloo PhD in Physics (Quantum Information) Yes

Best Universities for Quantum Computing PhDs: Where to Get a PhD in Quantum Computing

The best PhD quantum computing programs offer quality instruction in advanced quantum computing topics, research work, and unique assistantship opportunities. Some institutions also offer the flexibility of online learning.  Keep reading for an overview of the best quantum computing PhD programs, including admission requirements and funding opportunities.

California Institute of Technology , also known as Caltech, is a private institution known for its research in science and engineering. The university was founded in 1891 and offers a wide range of graduate options, including astrophysics, medical engineering, neurobiology, chemistry, applied mechanics, and computing and mathematical sciences.

Caltech is currently involved in several research initiatives where students can contribute through assistantships or coursework.

PhD in Computing and Mathematical Sciences

A PhD in Computing and Mathematical Sciences accommodates students with a background in applied math, economics, electrical engineering, physical sciences, and computer science. You will delve into a wide range of topics such as algorithms, machine learning, signal processing, statistics, data interpretation, and laws of quantum mechanics.

You will participate in quantum and information computation research , where you will learn from world-class faculty and contribute to ongoing research. Additionally, you will select a research advisor who will guide you through the ins and outs of your dissertation.

PhD in Computing and Mathematical Sciences Overview

  • Program Length: Six years
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Tuition and Fees: $58,467/year
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Assistantships, external fellowship, institute fellowship, parent support program, and federal, institute, and short-term emergency loans

PhD in Computing and Mathematical Sciences Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Official and unofficial transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • An updated resume
  • English proficiency test scores
  • $100 application fee or fee waiver form

Capitol Technology University was founded in 1927 and is a premier institution for STEM programs. The graduate school is known for its programs in information technology, business, computer science, and engineering. Capital Tech offers twenty-nine graduate programs, which are all online.

PhD in Quantum Computing

The PhD in Quantum Computing prepares you for many careers. Upon graduation, you can work as a quantum computing director, senior quantum systems engineer, or director of financial quantum computing. The quantum computing industry is growing rapidly, and Capitol aims to equip PhD students with the vital skills that meet industry needs. 

The curriculum features six-credit coursework that takes you from the foundational stages of a dissertation thesis to completion. Students can select between a thesis and publication option to meet graduation requirements. Capitol Tech PhD graduates demonstrate mastery in quantum computing, theoretical basis, and practical applications, as well as proficiency in research.

PhD in Quantum Computing Overview

  • Program Length: Two to four years
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition and Fees: $933/credit
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Tuition discounts, loans, assistantships, veteran benefits, scholarships
  • Master’s in relevant field
  • Resume demonstrating at least five years of work experience
  • Two recommendation forms
  • 1000 to 2000-word essay
  • $100 application fee

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is one of the best private Ivy League universities worldwide. The university is known for its commitment to research, high-quality education, and a strong academic community. Harvard's graduate school offers over 50 graduate programs and guarantees five years of funding for all PhD students.

PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering

You will complete this PhD under the Harvard Quantum Initiative , a program only available for PhD students. The degree prepares you for diverse research careers that require knowledge of quantum mechanics methods. 

You will cover quantum simulation, sensing, and computation. PhD students begin research work in their first year through lab rotations and engage in extensive mentoring programs. Communication training is also a part of the program.

PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering Overview

  • Program Length: Five years
  • Tuition and Fees: $52,456/year for the first two years of study                  
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Fellowships, grants, research assistantships, traineeships, stipends, federal student aid, loans, veteran benefits

PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, or a related field
  • $105 application fee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant university founded in 1861. The university is known for its research contributions across various industries. It prioritizes education, research, and innovation. MIT's department of physics contributes to innovation by offering doctoral programs in statistics, data science, and physics.

PhD in Physics, Statistics, and Data Science

At the MIT Physics Department, PhD students will learn probability theory, modeling with machine learning, natural language programming, statistical physics, and linear algebra. As an MIT PhD student, you will acquire essential research skills in probability, statistics, computation, and data analysis, and integrate these into your dissertation thesis. You can choose from a wide selection of research areas and specialize in quantum information science.

PhD in Physics, Statistics, and Data Science Overview

  • Program Length: 3-7 years, 5.6 years on average
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%
  • Tuition and Fees: $27,755/term        
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships

PhD in Physics, Statistics, Data Science Admission Requirement

  • $75 application fee
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • 3-6 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of objectives

Purdue University is a  public university founded in 1869 by the Indiana General Assembly. It was named after John Purdue, who contributed over $100,000 to the school’s establishment. Purdue has undergone many upgrades to become one of the leading research institutions worldwide.

Purdue upholds student-centered traditions and prides itself on a solid alumni network comprising former undergraduate and graduate students. Purdue’s graduate school offers over 160 programs. Graduate students have the opportunity to develop innovative projects in different areas, including business, technology, health care, and food consumption.

PhD in Physics                     

Purdue University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy maintains a commitment to producing highly-qualified scientists who thrive in the professional sector. Students will explore different courses and receive mentorship from over 50 faculty members, including members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The program offers many research areas, but you can specialize in quantum information science. This area of study allows you to conduct research in information theory, optical physics, and condensed matter systems. It also qualifies you as a member of the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute Research Group, where you will contribute to ongoing research at the university.

PhD in Physics Overview

  • Program Length: Three to four years
  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Tuition and Fees: $347.85/ credit (in state), $948.30/ credit (out of state)      
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Assistantships, fellowships, grants, loans, scholarships

PhD in Physics Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree in relevant field
  • $60 application fee
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Official transcripts

UC Berkeley is a renowned public research university located in sunny California. The university was founded in 1868 and is known for its high academic standards, unique undergraduate programs, and extensive academic offerings. 

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Graduate students at UC Berkeley can select from over 100 graduate degrees and various exchange programs. As a student, you will participate in innovative research while interacting with a diverse student community.

PhD in Physics

The physics department at UC Berkeley has designed this PhD program to provide students with a holistic learning experience. Once you demonstrate your competence to pursue the program, you will begin extensive coursework in quantum mechanics. 

The faculty mentors will advise you on the best quantum research programs before your preliminary exam. Once you pass the exam, you will start your research and submit progress reports until the last stage. Students complete the candidacy and defend their dissertation before a dignified thesis committee.

  • Tuition and Fees: $5,721/semester
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Fellowships, federal student loans, scholarships
  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field
  • $120 application fee
  • 3.0 GPA scores
  • Physics GRE test scores (optional)

The University of Chicago is among the leading research universities worldwide. It was founded in 1890 and is known for its state-of-the-art resources, numerous affiliations to innovators and award winners, and an exciting graduate life. Graduate students have access to many doctoral programs in the professional schools, including the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering offers this degree to successful PhD applicants. This degree lets you interact with industry experts in quantum science. You will learn about fundamental and applied quantum science, explore courses that shape your future within the quantum computing industry, and receive valuable thesis advice from outstanding advisors.

To graduate, you must complete nine core, specialized, and elective courses. Additionally, you will complete the teaching assistantship at the university after approval from the Vice Dean for Education and Outreach and the Dean of Students. You can also apply for work at several quantum research firms like the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

  • Tuition and Fees: $19,204/quarter   
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships
  • Bachelor’s Degree in a STEM field
  • $90 application fee

University of Maryland is a world-renowned public research university founded in 1856. The land-grant institution offers over 230 graduate programs and confers at least 2,800 degrees every year. UMD is known for its extensive research in various fields, including quantum computing, artificial intelligence and robotics, cybersecurity, and computational biology.

PhD in Computer Science

The program targets those looking to expand their knowledge in areas of computer science through research. You must understand computer science fundamentals and demonstrate your ability to engage in extensive research work. Selecting the quantum computing area of study allows you to delve into quantum mechanics for computational complexity, data transmission, information processing, and cryptographic security.

You will work with a world-class faculty to uncover innovations in quantum computers and how quantum computing principles apply to classical computers. The associated faculty currently investigates different topics, including programming languages, quantum algorithms, and hardware architectures. You can also apply for assistantships at the university’s new Quantum Startup Foundry.

PhD in Computer Science Overview

  • Program Length: Four years
  • Acceptance Rate: 22.8%
  • Tuition and Fees: $768/credit (in state), $1,706/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Assistantship, fellowship, grants

PhD in Computer Science Admission Requirements

  • GRE (optional)
  • 3.5 GPA (recommended)

If you are interested in pursuing your quantum computing doctoral abroad, you should apply to the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford is a leading academic institution known for contributing to research and its rigorous academic programs. The university prides itself on years of solid history as one of the oldest universities worldwide, dating back to 1096.   

The university offers a wide range of degree programs, including over 300 graduate courses. PhD students also access many research resources, including dedicated research groups like Quantum Group .

Quantum computing research at the University of Oxford leans into the university’s rich history, combining prior computing milestones with current quantum computing principles. You will pursue a PhD in Computer Science, where you’ll pursue cutting-edge research as part of the Quantum Group, and specialize in quantum science. 

  • Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
  • Tuition and Fees: $10,766/ year (citizens), $35,670/year (international students)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Loans, studentships, scholarships, teaching assistantships
  • First-class or high second-class bachelor’s degree with honors and a master’s degree in a relevant field
  • Detailed resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • $93.70 application fee

The University of Waterloo began operations in 1957 and has transformed into a premier public research university. It is a large university, sitting on over 1,000 acres and with an undergraduate enrollment of 36,020 students. Students can select doctoral programs from a list of over 190 graduate programs, including actuarial science, civil engineering, computer science, and nanotechnology.

PhD in Computer Science (Quantum Information)

You will complete this doctoral degree at the Institute of Quantum Computing. Students who select the quantum information area of study explore topics such as quantum biology, nanoelectronics-based quantum information processing, optical quantum information, and quantum devices.

Upon graduation, you will have the expertise to lead and contribute to advanced quantum computing research projects.

PhD in Computer Science (Quantum Information) Overview

  • Program Length: Four to five years
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,254/term (citizens), $7,396/term (international students)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Scholarships, university funding, grants, bursaries, loans, assistantships

PhD in Computer Science (Quantum Information) Admission Requirements

  • Master’s in Physics with at least 75% standing
  • $125 application fee
  • Three reference letters
  • English proficiency tests
  • Letter of admission and study permit for international students

Can You Get a PhD in Quantum Computing Online?

Yes, you can get a PhD in Quantum Computing online. As technology continues to offer more flexibility, universities are adjusting their PhD learning formats, allowing students to complete these degrees at their pace and from desired locations. Below are the top five schools for an online PhD in Quantum Computing.

Best Online PhD Programs in Quantum Computing

School Program Length
Bircham International University PhD in Quantum Computing 2 Years
Capitol Technology University PhD in Quantum Computing 2-4 Years
Harvard University PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering 5 Years
University of Maryland PhD in Computer Science 4 years
University of Waterloo PhD in Computer Science (Quantum Information) 4-5 Years

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Quantum Computing?

It takes four to seven years to get a PhD in Quantum Computing. Students must complete advanced quantum computing coursework, pass a comprehensive exam, and submit original research work demonstrating quantum computing applications. The original research, also referred to as a dissertation, plays a significant role in determining how long your PhD takes.

Is a PhD in Quantum Computing Hard?

Yes, a PhD in Quantum Computing is hard. You must develop in-depth knowledge of quantum computers and the process of designing, developing, and building fully-functional quantum machines. A PhD in Quantum Computing involves advanced coursework that includes quantum mechanics, physics, computational intelligence, and big data. These courses are very technical and challenging for any student.

You must also submit an extensive original dissertation, which involves a lot of research. Generally, the dissertation totals 70,000 to 100,000 words. You will spend months discovering new quantum computing theories, developing concepts, and defending everything you discover. In a nutshell, you must be ready and committed before pursuing a PhD in Quantum Computing.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Quantum Computing?

It costs $8,000-$50,000 per year to get a PhD in Quantum Computing. According to a 2019 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), PhD students in public institutions pay an average of $11,495 per year. Meanwhile, private institution tuition and fees average $23,138 per year.

It is important to note that these figures don’t represent the full cost of attendance, and you should also consider the cost of living, transportation, and supplies. You can always find the right estimate on the school’s website or through the admissions team.

How to Pay for a PhD in Quantum Computing: PhD Funding Options

The PhD funding options that students can use to pay for a PhD in Quantum Computing include federal grad student loans, scholarships and grants, fellowships, assistantships, and self-funding.

Funding for quantum computing grad students comes from different sources, including universities, charities, government bodies, and quantum computing research institutions. You can find reliable funding options by talking to your peers, building your portfolio, saving up, or pursuing funded PhD programs in Quantum Computing.

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What Is the Difference Between a Quantum Computing Master’s Degree and PhD?

The differences between a quantum computing master’s degree and PhD are the time frame, coursework, funding, and career opportunities. Generally, students complete a Master’s in Quantum Computing before pursuing a PhD, but it is not mandatory for all academic institutions. A PhD takes approximately four to seven years, whereas you can complete your master’s in two years.

The PhD curriculum is very advanced compared to the master’s degree . You must submit a dissertation of your original research work and complete a comprehensive exam before earning your PhD. A PhD in Quantum Computing is also more expensive, but you have access to more funding avenues, including fellowships and assistantships.

Master’s vs. PhD in Quantum Computing Job Outlook

The job outlook for quantum computing professionals with a master’s degree is slightly higher than those with a PhD in the same field. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates computer and information scientists have a 22 percent job growth rate. These include quantum computing researchers, engineers, and scientists.

On the other hand, BLS classifies senior quantum computing professionals under physicists and astronomers, representing an 8 percent job growth rate over the next ten years. The job outlook may differ because a Master’s in Quantum Computing prepares you for industrial-oriented jobs, whereas a PhD is more focused on research and academic careers.

The difference in Salary for Quantum Computing Master’s vs. PhD

The salary difference for quantum computing master’s and PhD holders is slightly different, with PhD graduates earning more. Although there are no specific salary outlooks for quantum computing, PayScale statistics highlight salaries for computing professionals.

Generally, a PhD in Computing makes you eligible for an average salary of $134,000 per year , while a Master’s in Computing will earn you an average of $111,000 per year . Remember, these are blanket figures for computing jobs, and the salary will differ depending on your job title, location, and employer.

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Why You Should Get a PhD in Quantum Computing

You should get a PhD in Quantum Computing because of the career opportunities, higher earning potential, and extensive knowledge and research opportunities this degree provides. In addition, quantum computing is a highly technical field, and pursuing a PhD allows you to explore uncharted areas of this rapidly growing field.

Reasons for Getting a PhD in Quantum Computing

  • Research Opportunities. A PhD involves a lot of research work, allowing you to make valuable contributions to the field of quantum computers. You will spend a year or more completing your dissertation of original research and making innovative discoveries, which will enhance your knowledge of quantum computing.
  • Higher Earning Potential. A PhD in Quantum Computing is the highest level of education, which means you can negotiate for higher salaries in any job. Although PhD holders have a lower job outlook, they will still earn more than master’s degree holders and undergraduate professionals.
  • Career Opportunities. With advancements in quantum technology, more people pursue computing careers, which makes this field a highly competitive industry. Earning a PhD in Quantum Computing places you ahead of your competition. It is a highly technical field that requires extensive knowledge, and employers will prioritize those with advanced credentials.
  • Become a Quantum Computing Expert.  Through extensive research, projects, and advanced coursework, you will gain expert-level knowledge of quantum computers and become an expert in all things quantum computing. Quantum computing PhD holders gain advanced skills in various areas, including quantum research, algorithmic thinking, and quantum software tools.
  • Reach your Full Potential. Earning a PhD in Quantum Computing allows you to reach your full potential. Pursuing a PhD in Quantum Computing is very hard and tests your resilience. Committing to the end allows you to grow professionally and individually through discipline and dedication.

Getting a PhD in Quantum Computing: Quantum Computing PhD Coursework

An engineer analyzing and testing hardware performance on his computer.

Getting a PhD in Quantum Computing involves completing extensive coursework that tackles every area of quantum computing. The standard quantum computing PhD coursework includes advanced courses, comprehensive exams, research work, assistantships, and a dissertation thesis. Below is a further analysis of the coursework, graduation requirements, and career outlook.

Quantum Optics

Quantum optics is an area of physics that focuses on applying quantum mechanics principles to occurrences involving light. You will learn about the nature of individual quanta of light, known as a proton, and its interaction with atoms and molecules. You will also explore the history of quantum optics, the first significant developments, and their applications to quantum computing.

Quantum Information Processing

Quantum information processing (QIP) is a core quantum computing course because it tackles an important part of the quantum computing system. This course will teach you how to process, analyze, and interpret quantum data using quantum information processing techniques. You will also explore quantum circuits, quantum control, quantum error-correction systems, quantum complexity theory, and quantum algorithms.

Implementation of Quantum Information Processors

In this course, you will discover the obstacles to implementing a quantum computing device and how to overcome them. You will learn about minimizing control and manipulation to achieve gate operations and the significance of quantum processors in QIP. You will also discover how quantum processors perform calculations based on probability.

Quantum Material Modeling

Quantum materials include topological insulators, magnets, superconductors, and multiferroics. You will learn how quantum materials affect current theory and contribute to quantum computing. Additionally, the course explores the tools and methods required to analyze, synthesize and manipulate these materials.

Quantum Cryptography   

Quantum cryptography or quantum key contribution refers to the process of encrypting and protecting quantum information using quantum mechanics principles. You will learn to apply quantum cryptography to data transmission, avoiding leaks and hacking incidents.

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How to Get a PhD in Quantum Computing: Doctoral Program Requirements

To get a PhD in Quantum Computing, you must fulfill the doctoral program requirements. The requirements include a dissertation thesis, exam results, course requirements, candidacy, assistantship requirements, residency, and research seminars.

The requirements are diverse and may vary depending on the academic institution. If you are wondering how to get a PhD in Quantum Computing, read the below list detailing five standard graduation requirements for quantum computing PhD students.

You must fulfill all the course requirements as per the university’s prerequisites. The coursework will include core courses, electives, and specialized courses. Students must complete all core courses and select a specific number of courses from the other categories. For example, Harvard University requires you to complete four core courses, add two specializations, and three elective courses.

You will complete qualifying or preliminary exams as part of the degree program. Students will complete a comprehensive exam that demonstrates their academic foundation and knowledge of quantum computing fundamentals. This exam will be administered in written or verbal form and indicates you are ready to begin your dissertation work.

Assistantships involve simultaneously working and learning within the academic institution. You can select a teaching, research, lab, or general graduate assistantship. Although assistantships are a mandatory PhD requirement, you will benefit from tuition waivers, cash compensation, and employee benefits like health insurance. You can confirm all the benefits for each program with the graduate studies department.

A PhD candidacy refers to the stage where you have completed all graduation prerequisites except the dissertation thesis. You will complete all the required courses and pass a qualifying exam before advancing into candidacy. Keep in mind that you must submit an application form to qualify for the candidacy.

All quantum computing PhD students must complete a detailed thesis of original research work in an area of quantum computing. You will explain your research sources, methods, references, and other relevant parts of a dissertation. Furthermore, you must defend your dissertation work in front of a thesis committee that will ask a variety of open-ended questions.

Potential Careers With a Quantum Computing Degree

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PhD in Quantum Computing Salary and Job Outlook

Graduates with a PhD in Quantum Computing enjoy high salaries and access to many job industries. Generally, you will earn between $90,000 and $150,000 or higher depending on your employer. The job outlook is promising because it requires applicants with extensive knowledge in the field, while an increasing number of organizations are implementing quantum computers.

What Can You Do With a PhD in Quantum Computing?

With a PhD in Quantum Computing, you can work as a senior quantum scientist, quantum senior software engineer, quantum optics researcher, and quantum computing research lead. Quantum computing PhD graduates have access to a wide range of career opportunities at senior levels.

You can also apply for jobs across different industries, including health care, academia, Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, supply chain management, cyber security, and finance. Many major companies like IBM Quantum, Microsoft Azure Quantum, Cambridge Quantum, and Amazon are developing quantum computing services.

Best Jobs with a PhD in Quantum Computing

  • Quantum computing professor
  • Quantum optics researcher
  • Quantum error correction researcher
  • Quantum software engineer
  • Quantum research scientist

What Is the Average Salary for a PhD in Quantum Computing

According to PayScale data, a PhD in Computing makes you eligible for an average salary of $134,000 . This figure includes all computing professionals, but quantum computing professionals have even higher earning potential.

Highest-Paying Quantum Computing Jobs for PhD Grads

Quantum Computing PhD Jobs Average Salary
Quantum Systems Manager
Quantum Physicist
Quantum Information Research Scientist
Quantum Computing Engineer
Quantum Computing Professor

Best Quantum Computing Jobs with a Doctorate

A Doctorate in Quantum Computing opens doors to jobs with lucrative salaries and amazing benefits. The best quantum computing jobs with a doctorate are primarily senior roles that come with a wide range of responsibilities. Below, you will explore a detailed overview of the highest-paying jobs for PhD graduates, including job outlook, and responsibilities.

Quantum system managers act as project managers in quantum computing organizations. You will plan, coordinate, and lead the team in implementing quantum computing activities to meet company needs. In addition, you will direct the maintenance of quantum computers, negotiate with vendors, propose new quantum technology, and report to the stakeholders.

  • Salary with a Quantum Computing PhD: $159,010
  • Job Outlook: 11% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 482,000
  • Highest-Paying States : New York, California, New Jersey, Washington, District of Columbia

Quantum physicists explore the physical laws that influence the behavior of atoms, electrons, and photons. You will design and perform experiments, develop and explain scientific theories, develop computer software, write scientific papers, and analyze physical data. This is a broad role that entails a wide selection of duties and requires knowledge of quantum algorithms, machine learning, quantum sensing, and quantum mechanics.

  • Salary with a Quantum Computing PhD: $152,430
  • Job Outlook: 9% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 19,500
  • Highest-Paying States : Pennsylvania, Kansas, Arizona, California, Missouri

Quantum research scientists help quantum computing organizations to solve problems with research. You will apply quantum theory principles to enhance how quantum computers optimize problems and improve performance. You will also analyze performance results, develop computing languages, present research findings, and test software systems operations.

  • Salary with a Quantum Computing PhD: $131,490
  • Job Outlook: 22% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 33,000
  • Highest-Paying States: Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington

A quantum computing engineer applies quantum mechanics principles in designing and executing computing experiments. You will design and implement system improvements and collaborate with other engineers within the company to meet set goals. You must demonstrate expertise in electrical and electronic engineering, computer science, quantum physics, artificial intelligence, and programming languages.

  • Salary with a Quantum Computing PhD: $108,774
  • Number of Jobs: 1,847,900
  • Highest-Paying States: California, Washington, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island

Quantum computing professors teach quantum computing at the university level. You will teach undergraduate or graduate students, depending on your expertise and the experience you gain from the assistantship. Some of your duties will include developing a course outline, planning lessons and preparing assignments, advising students on the right courses, conducting research, and contributing to curriculum changes.

  • Salary with a Quantum Computing PhD: $93,070
  • Job Outlook: 12% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 1,276,900
  • Highest-Paying States: California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Wisconsin

Is a PhD in Quantum Computing Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Quantum Computing is worth it. A PhD is the highest level of education and gives you in-depth knowledge of quantum computing skills. It comes with a wide selection of benefits including higher earning potential, research opportunities, and senior career opportunities.

The future of quantum computing is promising as more organizations develop quantum computing cloud services and design quantum computers. You can expand your opportunities across different industries and leave your mark on the development of quantum computers.

Additional Reading About Quantum Computing

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PhD in Quantum Computing FAQ

You can get a job in quantum computing by pursuing an accredited education path, improving your quantum computing skills, and gaining experience through internships and entry-level or mid-level jobs. You can also expand your portfolio by working on a wide variety of quantum computing projects. A PhD in the field will be the peak academic achievement on your CV.

No, you don’t need a PhD in quantum computing to pursue senior careers. The quantum computing industry accommodates master’s degree holders for senior roles. However, pursuing a PhD boosts your research capabilities.

Yes, quantum computing is the future. Many organizations are adapting quantum computing applications, and the industry is witnessing a rise in the number of quantum computing startups . The growth also indicates job security throughout the future for quantum computing professionals.

The programming languages you can use in quantum computing include QML, Quantum Lambda Calculus, QMASM, QCL, and Silq. You will learn how to use these languages to translate data into ideas that quantum computers can implement.

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Quantum Computing

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Earn a doctorate degree in Quantum Computing, help lead innovation in a growing industry

The PhD in Quantum Computing is a unique doctoral program designed to meet the immediate industry need for innovative researchers and practitioners. Professionals will graduate with the skills necessary to become key leaders in the advancement, expansion, and support of the this rapidly growing industry. 

Students in this program will conduct extensive and sustained original research on the applications of Quantum Computing, which harnesses and exploits the laws of quantum mechanics to process a vast number of calculations simultaneously. Faculty of this program are industry experts devoted to providing students deep proficiency in this area using an interdisciplinary methodology, cutting-edge courses, and dynamic faculty skill sets.

Graduates with the Ph.D. in Quantum Computing can expect to fill executive and senior-level positions in commercial companies as well as local, state, and federal government with a variety of titles such as:

  • Quantum Senior Scientist
  • Quantum Senior Software Engineer
  • Chief, Quantum Computing Solutions
  • Vice President, Quantum Solutions
  • Senior Director, Quantum Computing
  • Senior Quantum Solutions Architect
  • Senior Quantum Systems Engineer
  • Director, Federal Quantum Research
  • Chief, State Quantum Solutions
  • Senior State Quantum Applications Engineer
  • Senior Director, Financial Quantum Computing

Graduates will also possess the required knowledge in Quantum Computing to serve as a subject matter expert and form their own private company.

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Program is 100% online, with no on-campus classes or residencies required, allowing you the flexibility needed to balance your studies and career.

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Study at a university that specializes in industry-focused education in technology fields, with a faculty that includes many industrial and academic experts.

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Expert guidance in doctoral research

Capitol’s doctoral programs are supervised by faculty with extensive experience in chairing doctoral dissertations and mentoring students as they launch their academic careers. You’ll receive the guidance you need to successfully complete your doctoral research project and build credentials in the field. 

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Degree Details

This program may be completed with a minimum of 60 credit hours, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the dissertation/publication research. Students who are not prepared to defend after completion of the 60 credits will be required to enroll in RSC-899, a one-credit, eight-week continuation course. Students are required to be continuously enrolled/registered in the RSC-899 course until they successfully complete their dissertation defense/exegesis.

The student will produce, present, and defend a doctoral dissertation after receiving the required approvals from the student’s Committee and the PhD Review Boards.

Prior Achieved Credits May Be Accepted

(Prerequisite: None)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-800)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-810)

6

 (Prerequisite: CSQ-820)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-830)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-840)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-900)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-910)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-920)

6

(Prerequisite: CSQ-930)

6

Educational Objectives:

  • Students will integrate and synthesize alternate, divergent, or contradictory perspectives or ideas fully within the field of Quantum Computing.
  • Students will demonstrate advanced knowledge and competencies in Quantum Computing.
  • Students will analyze existing theories to draw data-supported conclusions in Quantum Computing.
  • Students will analyze theories, tools, and frameworks used in Quantum Computing.
  • Students will execute a plan to complete a significant piece of scholarly work in Quantum Computing.
  • Students will evaluate the legal, social, economic, environmental, and ethical impact of actions within Quantum Computing and demonstrate advanced skill in integrating the results in to the leadership decision-making process.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon graduation:

  • Graduates will integrate the theoretical basis and practical applications of Quantum Computing in to their professional work.
  • Graduates will demonstrate the highest mastery of Quantum Computing.
  • Graduates will evaluate complex problems, synthesize divergent/alternative/contradictory perspectives and ideas fully, and develop advanced solutions to Quantum Computing challenges.
  • Graduates will contribute to the body of knowledge in the study of Quantum Computing.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change.

The following rates are in effect for the 2024-2025 academic year, beginning in Fall 2024 and continuing through Summer 2025:

  • The application fee is $100
  • The per-credit charge for doctorate courses is $950. This is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
  • Retired military receive a $50 per credit hour tuition discount
  • Active duty military receive a $100 per credit hour tuition discount for doctorate level coursework.
  • Information technology fee $40 per credit hour.
  • High School and Community College full-time faculty and full-time staff receive a 20% discount on tuition for doctoral programs.

Find additional information for 2024-2025 doctorate tuition and fees.

I was able to receive credit for previous work in a PhD in Biomedical Informatics. Capitol Tech enables me to rapidly dive in, complete my research, and degree and bring my skills to the job market quickly in an embryonic but emerging field.

-Forrest Pascal PhD in Quantum Computing

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The PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering program provides students with the opportunity to study with some of  the most prominent researchers  working in both fundamental and applied aspects of quantum science. The program encompasses a variety of engineering topics that will help shape the quantum future. This includes quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum sensing, as well as research in quantum materials. Students have the option of working with one or more thesis advisors to build a cross-cutting research project that touches multiple disciplines.

Our graduate students work within a growing nexus of quantum research in Chicago, which includes the  Chicago Quantum Exchange , two Department of Energy funded national quantum information science research centers  Q-NEXT  and  SQMS , the  NSF QuBBE Quantum Leap Challenge Institute , one of the  longest ground-based quantum communication channels  in the country, and much more.

Students perform their research in state-of-the-art facilities at both the  University of Chicago  and  Argonne National Laboratory  campuses, and have opportunities to gain industry expertise through interactions with UChicago’s  Booth School of Business  and the  Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation , as well as our  industry and corporate partners . More opportunities are available through our robust programs in  career development and entrepreneurship ,  science communication ,  mentoring training and opportunities , and  educational outreach .

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Launch of pioneering ph.d. program bolsters harvard’s leadership in quantum science and engineering.

Field expected to usher in era of super-fast computing and innovation across a range of fields

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Researchers used atomic-size defects in diamonds to detect and measure magnetic fields generated by spin waves.

Images courtesy of Second Bay Studios/Harvard SEAS

In the middle of the 20th century, mathematicians, physicists, and engineers at Harvard began work that would lay the foundations for a new field of study, the applications of which would change the world in ways unimaginable at the time. These pioneering computer scientists helped develop the theory and technology that would usher in the digital age.

Harvard is once again taking a leading role in a scientific and technological revolution — this time in the field of quantum science and engineering. Today, the University launched one of the world’s first Ph.D. programs in the subject, providing the foundational education for the next generation of innovators and leaders who will transform quantum science and engineering into next-level systems, devices, and applications.

The new degree is the latest step in the University’s commitment to moving forward as both a leader in research and an innovator in teaching in the field of quantum science and engineering. Harvard launched the Harvard Quantum Initiative in 2018 to foster and grow this new scientific community. And additional future plans call for the creation of a quantum hub on campus to help further integrate efforts and encourage collaboration.

“This is a pivotal time for quantum science and engineering at Harvard,” said President Larry Bacow. “With institutional collaborators including MIT and industry partners, and the support of generous donors, we are making extraordinary progress in discovery and innovation. Our faculty and students are driving progress that will reshape our world through quantum computing, networking, cryptography, materials, and sensing, as well as emerging areas of promise that will yield advances none of us can yet imagine.”

“This cross disciplinary Ph.D. program will prepare our students to become the leaders and innovators in the emerging field of quantum science and engineering,” said Emma Dench, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “Harvard’s interdisciplinary strength and intellectual resources make it the perfect place for them to develop their ideas, grow as scholars, and make discoveries that will change the world.”

At the nexus of physics, chemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering, quantum science and technology promises to profoundly change the way we acquire, process, and communicate information. Imagine a computer that could sequence a person’s genome in a matter of seconds or an un-hackable communications system that could make data breaches a thing of the past. Quantum technology will usher in game-changing innovations in health care, infrastructure, security, drug development, climate-change prediction, machine learning, financial services, and more.

Researchers excited and detected spin waves in a quantum Hall ferromagnet, spending them through the insulating material like waves in a pond.

Rendering of spin waves.

The University is building partnerships with government agencies and national laboratories to advance quantum technologies and educate the next generation of quantum scientists. Harvard researchers will play a major role in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers, aimed at bolstering the nation’s global competitiveness and security. As part of the centers, Harvard researchers will:

  • develop and study the next generation of quantum materials that are resilient, controllable, and scalable;
  • use quantum-sensing techniques to explore the exotic properties of quantum materials for applications in numerous quantum technologies;
  • construct a quantum simulator out of ultra-cold molecules to attack important problems in materials development and test the performance of new types of quantum computation;
  • develop topological quantum materials for manipulating, transferring, and storing information for quantum computers and sensors;
  • investigate how quantum computers can meaningfully speed up answers to real-world scientific problems and create new tools to quantify this advantage and performance.

In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Harvard University Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM) has helped develop curriculum and educator activities that will help K‒12 students engage with quantum information science. CIQM is also collaborating with the Learning Center for the Deaf to create quantum science terms in American Sign Language .

“Breakthrough research happens when you create the right community of scholars around the right ideas at the right time,” said Claudine Gay, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “The Harvard Quantum Initiative builds on Harvard’s historic strength in the core disciplines of quantum science by drawing together cross-cutting faculty talent into a community committed to thinking broadly and boldly about the many problems where quantum innovations may offer a solution. This new approach to quantum science will open the way for new partnerships to advance the field, but perhaps even more importantly, it promises to make Harvard the training ground for the next generation of breakthrough scientists who could change the way we live and work.”

“Harvard’s missions are to excel at education and research, and these are closely related,” said John Doyle, the Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics and co-director of HQI. “Being at — and sometimes defining — the frontier of research keeps our education vibrant and meaningful to students. We aim to teach a broad range of students to think about the physical world in this new, quantum way as this is crucial to creating a strong community of future leaders in science and engineering. Tight focus on both research and teaching in quantum will develop Harvard into the leading institution in this area and keep the country at the forefront of this critical area of knowledge.”

Quantum at Harvard: ‘A game-changing’ moment

A conversation with SEAS Dean Frank Doyle, John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Science Division Dean Christopher Stubbs, Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy.

Transcript:

Doyle: We’re at a game changing point in science and technology. We’re poised to enable translation breakthroughs in our applications of that understanding to broadly stated information science, so networking, signal processing, encryption, communications, computing and simulation.

Stubbs: What we’re talking about, looking to the future, exploits the really spooky parts of quantum mechanics, about the relationship of information in spatially separated systems and trying to harness that technologically and bringing it to bear on problems in networking, computing, and sensing systems.

I think we’re learning more about the way the world works every day, and we’re interested here at Harvard in knitting that understanding together across different traditionally separated fields and pulling together an integrated effort that pulls together, computer science, electrical engineering, physics systems engineering, and tries to use these to build new tools to make life better for everybody.

Doyle: Chris, I completely agree, and I would say that one thing, I recognize deeply as the dean on the engineering side is that foundations are critical to achieving success in the domain of innovation or translation, whatever the application space might be. We have to have that core body of knowledge supporting and enabling really a continuum from basic science through applied science, ultimately to engineering. I would also point to the fact that we are modestly scaled compared to some of our peers, which I think empowers us with agility and nimbleness that allows us to quickly assemble the teams that cross the spectrum of these disciplines that we need to harness, and that’s a real strength here at Harvard as well.

Stubbs: I would say we’re making significant institutional investments in this enterprise. We’ve identified a building, working in partnership across the university, that’s going to be put to use for this activity, with new labs, new teaching labs. We will fill that space with colleagues that we intend to bring to campus to strengthen our faculty in this domain. We’re building a strong and vibrant educational program. And I think an important element to include here is that we see this as a way to reach all the way into applications at scale, and we’re building partnerships with industrial partners, ranging from startups-sized companies to major national corporations that are going to have the ability to bring these ideas to bear at scale and impact people’s lives in a positive way.

Doyle: I would say that this opportunity has tremendous potential across a wide array of fields and applications, from more traditional engineering fields like communications, cybersecurity, network science, but across an even broader array of fields including finance (thinking about the new kinds of algorithms that are going to power the future of things like trading and stress testing the market); precision medicine; the quantum principles that we’re going to be able to leverage in devices that will now interrogate at unprecedented scale — spatial and temporal — to bring information back that we can act upon. So it’s virtually a limitless horizon of application opportunities out there.

Stubbs: We’re fortunate in the Boston area to have another university down the road, whose initials are MIT, with which, in particular in this technical domain, we have strong existing partnerships among the faculty. We view this as moving forward arm-in-arm with sister institutions in this region to establish Boston as one of the premier centers in the nation for both innovation, education, and application of this new technology.

Doyle: Our faculties partnering across Harvard and MIT have been doing this for literally decades. So there’s an incredible organic foundation that has been laid in the Greater Cambridge, Greater Boston space that we’re now turning an inflection point to accelerate that activity.

The field of quantum really opens up some exciting partnership opportunities, which we’re exploring with great passion. The notion that the continuum from the university and basic research and applied research, through to getting products in the market, through getting operational networks, operational systems is one that truly is a continuum. So there has to be integrated partnerships, where we invite partners in the private sector in to be embedded on the campus to learn from the researchers in our labs, where we embed our faculty out in the private sector in national labs to learn about the cutting edge applications that need to drive and fuel the research taking place back on the campus. So I really view this as a wonderful new opportunity to rethink the nature of how the private sector and the academy partner to enable the ultimate translation into products, technologies that are going to benefit mankind.

Edited for length.

The University’s location within the Greater Boston ecosystem of innovation and discovery is one of its greatest strengths.

A recent collaboration between Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and University quantum physicists resulted in a proof-of-concept algorithm to dramatically speed up the analysis of nuclear magnetic resonance (NNMR) readings to identify biomarkers of specific diseases and disorders, reducing the process from days to just minutes.

A multidisciplinary team of electrical engineers and physicists from Harvard and MIT are building the infrastructure for tomorrow’s quantum internet , including quantum repeaters, quantum memory storage, and quantum networking nodes, and developing the key technologies to connect quantum processors over local and global scales.

“We are moving forward arm in arm with sister institutions in this region, most notably MIT, to establish Boston as one of the premier centers in the nation for both education and developing technologies that we anticipate will have significant impact on society,” said Christopher Stubbs, science division dean and Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy.

  “We are excited to see the ever-growing opportunities for collaboration in quantum science and engineering at Harvard, in the Boston community, and beyond,” said Evelyn L. Hu, the Tarr-Coyne Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Science at SEAS and co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative. “Harvard is committed to sustaining that growth and fostering a strong community of students, faculty, and inventors, both locally and nationwide.”

Fiber-optical networks, the backbone of the internet, rely on high-fidelity information conversion from electrical to the optical domain. The researchers combined the best optical material with innovative nanofabrication and design approaches, to realize, energy-efficient, high-speed, low-loss, electro-optic converters for quantum and classical communications.

Rendering of fiber optic network.

“Building a vibrant community and ecosystem is essential for bringing the benefits of quantum research to different fields of science and society,” said Mikhail Lukin, George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics and co-director of HQI. “Quantum at Harvard aims to integrate unique strengths of university research groups, government labs, established companies, and startups to not only advance foundational quantum science and engineering but also to build and to enable broad access to practical quantum systems.”

To facilitate those collaborations, the University is finalizing plans for the comprehensive renovation of an existing campus building into a new quantum hub — a shared resource for the quantum community with instructional and research labs, seminar and workshop spaces, meeting spaces for students and faculty, and space for visiting researchers and collaborators. The quantum headquarters will integrate the educational, research, and translational aspects of the diverse field of quantum science and engineering in an architecturally cohesive way.

This critical element of Harvard’s quantum strategy was made possible by a generous gift from Stacey L. and David E. Goel ’93 and gifts from several other alumni who stepped forward to support HQI. David Goel, co-founder and managing general partner of Waltham, Mass.-based Matrix Capital Management Co. and one of Harvard’s most ardent supporters, said his gift was inspired both by recognizing Harvard’s “intellectual dynamism and leadership in quantum” and a sense of the utmost urgency to pursue opportunities in this field. “Our existing technologies are reaching the limit of their capacity and cannot drive the innovation we need for the future, specifically in areas like semiconductors, technology, and the life sciences. Quantum is an enabler, providing a multiplier effect on a logarithmic scale. It is a catalyst that drives the kinds of scientific revolutions and epoch-making paradigm shifts.”

Electrodes stretch diamond strings to increase the frequency of atomic vibrations to which an electron is sensitive, just like tightening a guitar string increases the frequency or pitch of the string. The tension quiets a qubit’s environment and improves memory from tens to several hundred nanoseconds, enough time to do many operations on a quantum chip.

Rendering of atomic vibrations.

Goel credits the academic leaders and their “commitment to ensuring that Harvard’s community will be at the forefront of the science that is already changing the world.”

The University is also building partnerships with industry partners, ranging from startups to major national corporations, that are preparing to bring quantum technologies to the public.

“An incredible foundation has been laid in quantum at Harvard, and we are now at an inflection point to accelerate that activity and build on the momentum that has already made Harvard a leader in the field,” said Frank Doyle, SEAS dean and John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Research happening right now in Harvard labs is significantly advancing our understanding of quantum science and engineering and positioning us to make breathtaking new discoveries and industry-leading translation breakthroughs.”

To enable opportunities to move from basic to applied research to translating ideas into products, Doyle described a vision for “integrated partnerships where we invite partners from the private sector to be embedded on the campus to learn from the researchers in our labs and where our faculty connect to the private sector and national labs to learn about the cutting-edge applications, as well as help translate of basic research into useful tools for society.”

  “We are at the early stages of a technological transformation, similar or maybe even grander than the excitement and the promise that came with the birth of computer science — and Harvard is at the forefront,” Stubbs said.

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Harvard Launches PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering

Program will prepare leaders of the ‘quantum revolution’

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CAMBRIDGE, MA (Monday, April 26, 2021) – Harvard University today announced one of the world’s first PhD programs in Quantum Science and Engineering , a new intellectual discipline at the nexus of physics, chemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering with the promise to profoundly transform the way we acquire, process and communicate information and interact with the world around us.

“This cross-disciplinary PhD program will prepare our students to become the leaders and innovators in the emerging field of quantum science and engineering,” said Emma Dench, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics. “Harvard’s interdisciplinary strength and intellectual resources make it the perfect place for them to develop their ideas, grow as scholars, and make discoveries that will change the world.”

The University is already home to a robust quantum science and engineering research community, organized under the Harvard Quantum Initiative . With the launch of the PhD program, Harvard is making the next needed commitment to provide foundational education for the next generation of innovators and leaders who will push the boundaries of knowledge and transform quantum science and engineering into useful systems, devices, and applications. 

“The new PhD program is designed to equip students with the appropriate experimental and theoretical education that reflects the nuanced intellectual approaches brought by both the sciences and engineering,” said faculty co-director Evelyn Hu , Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and of Electrical Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “The core curriculum dramatically reduces the time to basic quantum proficiency for a community of students who will be the future innovators, researchers, and educators in quantum science and engineering.”

“Quantum science and engineering is not just a hybrid of subjects from different disciplines, but an important new area of study in its own right,” said faculty co-director John Doyle , Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics. “A PhD program is necessary and foundational to the development of this new discipline.”

“America’s continued success leading the quantum revolution depends on accelerating the next generation of talent,” said Dr. Charles Tahan, assistant director for quantum information science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and director of the National Quantum Coordination Office. “It’s nice to see that a key component of Harvard’s education strategy is optimizing how core quantum-relevant concepts are taught.”

The University is also finalizing plans for the comprehensive renovation of a campus building into a new state-of-the-art quantum hub—a shared resource for the quantum community with instructional and research labs, spaces for seminars and workshops, and places for students, faculty, and visiting researchers and collaborators to meet and convene. Harvard’s quantum headquarters will integrate the educational, research, and translational aspects of the diverse field of quantum science and engineering in an architecturally cohesive way. This critical element of Harvard’s quantum strategy was made possible by generous gifts from Stacey L. and David E. Goel ‘93 and several other alumni.

“Existing technologies are reaching the limit of their capacity and cannot drive the innovation we need for the future, specifically in areas like semiconductors and the life sciences,” said Goel, co-founder and managing general partner of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Matrix Capital Management Company, LP, and one of Harvard’s most ardent supporters. “Quantum is an enabler, providing a multiplier effect on a logarithmic scale. It is a catalyst that drives scientific revolutions and epoch-making paradigm shifts.”

“Harvard is making significant institutional investments in its quantum enterprise and in the creation of a new field,” said Science Division Dean Christopher Stubbs , Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy. Stubbs added that several active searches are underway to broaden Harvard’s faculty strength in this domain, and current faculty are building innovative partnerships with industry around quantum research.

“An incredible foundation has been laid in quantum, and we are now at an inflection point to accelerate that activity,” said SEAS Dean Frank Doyle , John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

To enable opportunities to move from basic to applied research to translating ideas into products, Doyle described a vision for “integrated partnerships where we invite partners from the private sector to be embedded on the campus to learn from the researchers in our labs, and where our faculty connect to the private sector and national labs to learn about the cutting-edge applications and to help translate basic research into useful tools for society.”

Harvard will admit the first cohort of PhD candidates in fall 2022 and anticipates enrolling 35 to 40 students in the program. Participating faculty are drawn from physics and chemistry in Harvard’s Division of Science and in applied physics, electrical engineering, and computer science at SEAS.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provides more information on Harvard’s PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering , including the program philosophy, curriculum, and requirements.

Harvard has a long history of leadership in quantum science and engineering. Theoretical physicist and 2005 Nobel laureate Roy Glauber is widely considered the founding father of quantum optics, and 1989 Nobel laureate Norman Ramsey pioneered much of the experimental foundation of quantum science.

Today, Harvard experimental research groups are among the leaders worldwide in areas such as quantum simulations, metrology, and quantum communications and computation, and are complemented by strong theoretical groups in computer science, physics, and chemistry.

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Harvard Launches PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering

Drawing on world-class research community, program will prepare leaders of the ‘quantum revolution’.

Harvard University today announced one of the world’s first PhD programs in Quantum Science and Engineering, a new intellectual discipline at the nexus of physics, chemistry, computer science and electrical engineering with the promise to profoundly transform the way we acquire, process and communicate information and interact with the world around us.

The University is already home to a robust quantum science and engineering research community, organized under the Harvard Quantum Initiative . With the launch of the PhD program, Harvard is making the next needed commitment to provide the foundational education for the next generation of innovators and leaders who will push the boundaries of knowledge and transform quantum science and engineering into useful systems, devices and applications. 

“The new PhD program is designed to equip students with the appropriate experimental and theoretical education that reflects the nuanced intellectual approaches brought by both the sciences and engineering,” said faculty co-director Evelyn Hu , Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and of Electrical at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “The core curriculum dramatically reduces the time to basic quantum proficiency for a community of students who will be the future innovators, researchers and educators in quantum science and engineering.”

“Quantum science and engineering is not just a hybrid of subjects from different disciplines, but an important new area of study in its own right,” said faculty co-director John Doyle , Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics. “A Ph.D. program is necessary and foundational to the development of this new discipline.”

Quantum science and engineering is not just a hybrid of subjects from different disciplines, but an important new area of study in its own right.

“America’s continued success leading the quantum revolution depends on accelerating the next generation of talent,” said Dr. Charles Tahan, Assistant Director for Quantum Information Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Director of the National Quantum Coordination Office. “It’s nice to see that a key component of Harvard’s education strategy is optimizing how core quantum-relevant concepts are taught.”

The University is also finalizing plans for the comprehensive renovation of a campus building into a new state-of-the-art quantum hub – a shared resource for the quantum community with instructional and research labs, spaces for seminars and workshops, and places for students, faculty, and visiting researchers and collaborators to meet and convene. Harvard’s quantum headquarters will integrate the educational, research, and translational aspects of the diverse field of quantum science and engineering in an architecturally cohesive way. This critical element of Harvard’s quantum strategy was made possible by generous gifts from Stacey L. and David E. Goel ‘93 and several other alumni .

“Existing technologies are reaching the limit of their capacity and cannot drive the innovation we need for the future, specifically in areas like semiconductors and the life sciences,” said David Goel, co-founder and managing general partner of Waltham, Mass.-based Matrix Capital Management Company, LP and one of Harvard’s most ardent supporters. “Quantum is an enabler, providing a multiplier effect on a logarithmic scale. It is a catalyst that drives scientific revolutions and epoch-making paradigm shifts.”

“Harvard is making significant institutional investments in its quantum enterprise and in the creation of a new field,” said Science Division Dean Christopher Stubbs , Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy. Stubbs added that several active searches are underway to broaden Harvard’s faculty strength in this domain, and current faculty are building innovative partnerships around quantum research with industry.

“An incredible foundation has been laid in quantum, and we are now at an inflection point to accelerate that activity,” said SEAS Dean Frank Doyle , John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

An incredible foundation has been laid in quantum, and we are now at an inflection point to accelerate that activity.

To enable opportunities to move from basic to applied research to translating ideas into products, Doyle described a vision for “integrated partnerships where we invite partners from the private sector to be embedded on the campus to learn from the researchers in our labs, and where our faculty connect to the private sector and national labs to learn about the cutting-edge applications, as well as help translate basic research into useful tools for society.”

Harvard will admit the first cohort of PhD candidates in Fall 2022 and anticipates enrolling 35 to 40 students in the program. Participating faculty are drawn from physics and chemistry in Harvard’s Division of Science and applied physics, electrical engineering, and computer science in SEAS.

Candidates interested in Harvard’s PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering can learn more about the program philosophy, curriculum, and requirements here .

“This cross disciplinary PhD program will prepare our students to become the leaders and innovators in the emerging field of quantum science and engineering” said Emma Dench, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “Harvard’s interdisciplinary strength and intellectual resources make it the perfect place for them to develop their ideas, grow as scholars, and make discoveries that will change the world.”

Harvard has a long history of leadership in quantum science and engineering. Theoretical physicist and 2005 Nobel laureate Roy Glauber is widely considered the founding father of quantum optics, and 1989 Nobel laureate Norman Ramsey pioneered much of the experimental foundation of quantum science.

Today, Harvard experimental research groups are among the leaders worldwide in areas such as quantum simulations, metrology, quantum communications and computation, and are complemented by strong theoretical groups in computer science, physics, and chemistry.

Topics: Quantum Engineering

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Quantum Science and Engineering

General information, program offerings:, affiliated departments:, director of graduate studies:, graduate program administrator:.

The program in Quantum Science and Engineering provides graduate training in a new discipline at the intersection of quantum physics and information theory. Just as the 20th century witnessed a technological and scientific revolution ushered in by our newfound understanding of quantum mechanics, the 21st century now offers the promise of a new class of technologies and lines of inquiry that take full advantage of the more fragile and intricate consequences of quantum mechanics: coherent superposition, projective measurement, and entanglement. This field has broad implications, from many body physics, the creation of new forms of matter, and our understanding of the emergence of the classical world, to fundamentally new technological applications ranging from new types of computers that can solve currently intractable problems, communication channels whose security is guaranteed by the laws of physics, and sensors that offer unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution.

The Princeton Quantum Science and Engineering community is unique in its broad, interdisciplinary breadth combined with foundational research in quantum information and quantum matter. Research at Princeton comprises every layer of the quantum technology stack, in fields ranging from quantum many body physics, materials, devices, and devising new quantum hardware platforms to quantum information theory, quantum metrology, quantum algorithms and complexity theory, and quantum computer architecture. This vibrant environment allows for rapid progress at the frontiers of quantum science and technology, with cross pollination among quantum platforms and approaches. Our curriculum places students in an excellent position to build new quantum systems, discover new technological innovations, become leaders in the emergent quantum industry, and make deep, lasting contributions to quantum information science.

Additional departmental requirements

Applicants are required to select an area of research interest when applying.

Program Offerings

Program offering: ph.d., program description.

The doctoral program combines coursework and participation in original research. Most students enter the program with an undergraduate degree in physics, electrical engineering, computer science, chemistry, materials science, or a related discipline. Every admitted Ph.D. student is given financial support in the form of a first-year fellowship. Students in academic good standing are supported by a teaching assistant or research assistant after the first year. Students who remain on campus working with their adviser during the summer will receive summer salary.

The curriculum consists of five required, graded courses to be completed by the end of the second year with an average GPA of 3.3, including: - Three core courses: Quantum Mechanics (PHY 506, ECE 511, CHM 501/502), Quantum Information (ECE 569), Implementations of Quantum Science (ECE 568) - Two quantum science courses: Experimental Methods in Quantum Computing (ECE 457), Solid State Physics (ECE 441), Condensed Matter Physics (PHY 525/526), Atomic Physics (PHY 551), Quantum optics (ECE 456), Fundamentals of Nanophotonics (ECE 560), Solid State Chemistry (CHM 529), Electronic Structure of Solids (CHM 524), Quantum Optoelectronics (ECE 453), Quantum Materials Spectroscopy (ECE 547), Solid State Physics II (ECE 542), Physics and Technology of Low-dimensional Electronic Structures (ECE544)

Additional pre-generals requirements

Each incoming student is assigned an academic adviser to help with course selection and other educational issues. First year students are required to enroll in a fall seminar class (ungraded) in which QSE faculty present their research. By the end of the first year, each student must secure placement with a research advisor.

First year students are also required to enroll in a seminar course for both semesters, in which they attend the weekly Quantum Colloquium series (which meets on Mondays), read relevant papers, and then discuss the papers and colloquium later in the week. Colloquium attendance will be mandatory and verified by a sign-in sheet. The course will be graded on a P/NP basis, and students will be evaluated based on their attendance and participation in discussion. The instructor running the course for the semester assigns a few papers that are relevant to that week’s colloquium, together with a reading guide that comprises a few questions about each paper. The students are responsible for reading the papers carefully, understanding them in the context of that week’s colloquium, and participating actively in the class discussion.  Students must also complete a course in Responsible Conduct of Research by the end of their second year.

General exam

Students must successfully complete their general exam by the end of their second year. The general exam consists of a research seminar and an oral exam, with a committee of three faculty (including the research advisor). The seminar is typically a 45 minute presentation of research accomplished at Princeton, with questions from the committee about the research. The oral exam is administered by the committee, and is intended to probe the student’s engagement with independent research, as well as their general knowledge in the field.

Qualifying for the M.A.

The Master of Arts can be earned by Ph.D. students en route to their Ph.D., after the student has: (a) completed the required coursework, (b) presented a research seminar approved by the student’s general examination committee, and (c) passed the oral general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that these requirements have been met.

Teaching experience is considered to be a significant part of a graduate education. Prior to completion of the program, doctoral students must complete at least one semester as a half-assistant instructor (AI), 3 hours per week. To be an AI, a student must first demonstrate proficiency in English by passing or being exempted from the Princeton Oral Proficiency Test (POPT). Students are encouraged to satisfy the POPT requirement as early as possible.

Dissertation and FPO

The final public oral examination is taken after the candidate’s dissertation has been examined for technical mastery by a committee of three faculty including the research advisor and approved by the Graduate School; it is primarily a defense of the dissertation. The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.

Permanent Courses

Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.

ECE 568 - Implementations of Quantum Information (also QSE 568)

Qse 501 - current topics in quantum science and engineering.

We have 7 Quantum Computing (part time) PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships

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Quantum Computing (part time) PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships

Cdt-qte: quantum topology optimisation for aerospace design, phd research project.

PhD Research Projects are advertised opportunities to examine a pre-defined topic or answer a stated research question. Some projects may also provide scope for you to propose your own ideas and approaches.

Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

This project is in competition for funding with other projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be successful. Unsuccessful projects may still go ahead as self-funded opportunities. Applications for the project are welcome from all suitably qualified candidates, but potential funding may be restricted to a limited set of nationalities. You should check the project and department details for more information.

CDT-QTE: Space-Time-Varying Superconducting Surfaces for Enhanced Efficiency Quantum Computing and Quantum Wave Processing Applications

Space-time-varying superconducting surfaces for next-generation quantum computers, competition funded phd project (uk students only).

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is only available to UK citizens or those who have been resident in the UK for a period of 3 years or more. Some projects, which are funded by charities or by the universities themselves may have more stringent restrictions.

On the Development of a Framework for Quantum Resistant Distributed Ledger Technologies

Funded phd project (students worldwide).

This project has funding attached, subject to eligibility criteria. Applications for the project are welcome from all suitably qualified candidates, but its funding may be restricted to a limited set of nationalities. You should check the project and department details for more information.

Multiple PhD project topics available around Trustworthy AI-enabled multimodal assistive hearing and conversational technologies

Self-funded phd students only.

This project does not have funding attached. You will need to have your own means of paying fees and living costs and / or seek separate funding from student finance, charities or trusts.

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Harvard launches phd in quantum science and engineering.

Harvard Launches PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering

Harvard University announced today one of the world’s first PhD programs in Quantum Science and Engineering,  a new intellectual discipline at the nexus of physics, chemistry, computer science and electrical engineering with the promise to profoundly transform the way we acquire, process and communicate information and interact with the world around us.

With the launch of the PhD program, Harvard is making the next needed commitment to provide the foundational education for the next generation of innovators and leaders who will push the boundaries of knowledge and transform quantum science and engineering into useful systems, devices and applications. 

"The new PhD program is designed to equip students with the appropriate experimental and theoretical education that reflects the nuanced intellectual approaches brought by both the sciences and engineering," said faculty co-director Evelyn Hu, Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and of Electrical at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). "The core curriculum dramatically reduces the time to basic quantum proficiency for a community of students who will be the future innovators, researchers and educators in quantum science and engineering."

"Quantum science and engineering is not just a hybrid of subjects from different disciplines, but an important new area of study in its own right,” said faculty co-director John Doyle, Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics.“A Ph.D. program is necessary and foundational to the development of this new discipline."

The new program lies at the interface of physics, chemistry, and engineering, providing students with exciting opportunities to explore the fundamentals, realizations, and applications of QSE. Students of diverse backgrounds will benefit from an integrated curriculum designed to dramatically reduce the time to basic quantum proficiency and to equip students with experimental and theoretical education that reflects the nuanced intellectual approaches brought by both the sciences and engineering. Students will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities. Integrating a new approach to interdisciplinary scholarship, graduates of the program will be prepared for careers in academia, industry, and national laboratories.

Research is a primary focus of the program, with students beginning research rotations in their first year. Extensive mentoring and advising is embedded in the program: graduate students in QSE are part of an academic community that cuts across departments and schools and, as such, are strongly encouraged to pursue cross-disciplinary research. In addition to their research, QSE PhD students will receive training in communication and professional opportunities, such as industry internships.

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PhD track Quantum Science and Technologies (QUANTIX)

PhD track Quantum Science and Technologies (QUANTIX)

Program

PhD track in Quantum Science and Technologies

ECTS Credits

120 (first two years)

Language

English

Orientation

Research

Location

Palaiseau Campus

Course duration

two years (coursework period), followed by a three-year dissertation phase

Course start

September

Degrees awarded

Master’s degree (after the first two years), PhD (on completion of the dissertation)

WHY ENROLL IN THIS PROGRAM?

Get ready for a PhD by starting research at an early stage

Be closely associated with the research activities carried out in a world-renowned innovation cluster

Benefit from individual and personalized supervision by a faculty member

  • Description
  • Associated Laboratories
  • PhD Tracks Research Projects

Quantum Technologies have seen a dramatic development in the past few years. The realization of individual quantum systems and the control of new materials with unconventional properties has paved the way to the development of machines and protocols based on the most fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics, without classical counterparts, such as the superposition of states and entanglement. The demonstration of quantum supremacy in 2019 has been a major step, but many new challenges remain to be taken for the complete deployment of Quantum Technologies, at both the fundamental level and that of practical applications.

The Quantum Science and Technologies PhD track is organized around six pillars:

  • Quantum Materials
  • Quantum Simulation
  • Quantum Computation
  • Quantum Sensing and Metrology
  • Quantum Communication and Networking
  • Quantum Information Processing

It aims at providing the students with a high level education at the state of the art of quantum physics and quantum information processing in direct contact with forefront research in all these fields.

  • Be trained to forefront challenges in quantum science and its technological applications
  • Contribute to cutting-edge research in a word-leading research center
  • Discover a multidisciplinary field at the frontier of theoretical and experimental physics, computer science, and applied mathematics.
  • Discover the diversity of quantum technologies in the rich scientific environment of the Plateau de Saclay
  • Become a leader of the next generation of reserachers and engineers in quantum science and technologies

Partner University

  • Université Paris-Saclay

The five-year curriculum of the PhD track trains students in cutting-edge research for them to pursue international careers  in prestigious universities and academic labs or leading companies in quantum technologies. 

The PhD Track provides a five-year "à la carte" integrated Master and PhD program for particularly motivated and talented students aiming at preparing a career in academia or industry through an individualized research-oriented training program in Quantum Science and Technologies. Students will be attributed an academic tutor in their field of research from the very start of their studies at IP Paris. In coordination with their tutor, students will elaborate their own personal curriculum consisting of course work and research phases corresponding to their research interests and professional project.

During their first year, students will follow a selection of high level courses focused on quantum physics and its interfaces. It may include computer science and applied mathematics courses, as well as complementary modules allowing them to broaden their general scientific culture and to acquire complementary skills. At the same time, the students are immediately members of the research team of their tutor and participate in team activities and research discussions. This includes in particular attending relevant research seminars and potentially topical workshops. During the first year, students will work on a research project, in collaboration with their host team. A significant part of the second year will be devoted to a larger-scale research work, giving rise to a Master thesis and – most likely – first research publications. This is also the occasion to consolidate their choice for the topic of their PhD.

While it will still be possible to follow selected – more specialized – scientific courses and courses in secondary skills, the last three years of the PhD Track program will be mainly devoted to research work towards the PhD degree.

In addition to the weekly laboratory work, two mandatory full-time internships take place during the spring, one at the M1 level, the other at the M2 level. The duration and corresponding number of ECTS are at least those of the main Master in which the student is enrolled. The number of ECTS can be adapted depending on the duration of the internship.

Students have the opportunity to visit international partner universities.

All relevant laboratories of IP Paris and partner institutions, in particular

  • Center for Theoretical Physics (CPHT, Ecole Polytechnique
  • Laboratory for Applied Optics (LOA, Ecole Polytechnique/ENSTA)
  • Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics (PMC, Ecole Polytechnique)
  • Laboratory for Information Processing and Communication Laboratory (LTCI, Telecom Paris)
  • Laboratory for Irradiated Solids (LSI, Ecole Polytechnique)

Admission requirements

Academic prerequisites.

Completion with highest honors of a Bachelor in physics, including courses in quantum physics, at Institut Polytechnique de Paris or equivalent in France or abroad.

Evidence of research potential is essential as the main goal of such a PhD program is to train first class researchers. 

Students who have completed the first year of an equivalent program may exceptionally be directly admitted to the second year (4-year PhD program).

Language prerequisites

A certificate of proficiency in English (level B2) is required (TOEIC, IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge ESOL), except for native speakers and students who previously studied in English.

How to apply

Applications are exclusively online. You will be required to provide the following documents:

  • Transcript 
  • Two academic references (added online directly by your referees)  
  • CV/resume 
  • Statement of purpose indicating which 2 choices of research subjects among the one listed on this page under the section "PhD Track Research Projects"

You will receive an answer in your candidate space within 2 months following the closing date of the application session. 

Fees and scholarships

Registration fees are available here

Find out more about scholarships

Please note that fees and scholarships may change for the following year.

Applications and admission dates

Coordinator.

  • Luca Perfetti 

General enquiry

When applying to the PhD Tracks in Physics, you should describe your preferred fields of study and research in your motivation letter. You are ecouraged to choose two preferred PhD Track subjects among the list below.   Since the posted offers do not cover the full spectrum of our activities , you can also visit the web pages of the 11 laboratories (CPHT, IPVF, LLR, LOA, LOB, LPICM, LPMC, LPP, LSI, LULI, Omega) affiliated to the physics department and indicate the research lines that interest you the most.

PhD Track research projects in “QUANTUM SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY”

  • Correlated quantum matter and quantum information
  • Ultrafast dynamics of electrons in quantum materials
  • Re-using model results to determine materials properties: connector theory approach
  • Collective electronic fluctuations and their influence on materials properties
  • Spin-dependent charge dynamics in dilute nitride and defect-engineered semiconductor quantum structures and devices
  • Electronic processes in nitride semiconductor quantum structures and devices
  • Theory of Many-Body Quantum States
  • Probing the quantum properties of spin defects in 2D materials
  • Time-frequency quantum information processing
  • Uncovering a new law of physics in quantum materials

X

UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute

PhD Opportunities

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As a research institute, UCLQ offers PhD students the opportunity to learn about and contribute to cutting edge developments in the field of Quantum Technolgies. Alongside our postgraduate programmes, UCLQ academics may also offer standalone PhD opportunities for specialised projects.

UCL  is the home of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Delivering Quantum Technologies  which launched in 2014, with funding for five cohorts. The CDT has now securing funding from EPSRC and our partners to renew the centre for five further cohorts from Autumn 2019. 

In addition to the CDT, individual academics often have funding for  possible PhD projects. We maintain a full list of all UCLQ staff. It may also be possible to apply to work with a UCLQ academic through their departmental postgraduate portal. Please see the following links below for more information:

  • PhDs in Physics and Astronomy
  • PhDs in Computer Science
  • PhDs in Electronic and Elecetrical Engineering

Opportunities at the London Centre for Nanotechnology

Academics in the LCN, many of whom are affiliated with UCLQ, may also advertise a PhD project on the institutional website. Please visit their website for more details on these opportunites, and how to apply.

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part time phd in quantum computing

Centre for Quantum Information and Foundations

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  • Part III Quantum Information, Foundations and Gravity
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Graduate Applications

The CQIF includes four members of DAMTP Faculty, two affiliated members, and several senior researchers.

We always have to turn away some outstanding applicants: if you are considering applying to us you should also apply widely elsewhere. Applicants who are not UK citizens should also carefully consider the information about funding below, and note the very early deadlines for applications for funding from Foundations and Trusts. Applications to start a PhD in October 2022 will be considered from November 2021 onwards.

Successful applicants are likely to have a first class undergraduate degree in mathematics, physics or computer science, and should ideally also have an M.Sc. or equivalent qualification. Candidates considering applying directly from an undergraduate degree are encouraged to consider applying first to take Cambridge's one-year Masters-level course, the Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics (Part III of the Cambridge Mathematics Tripos). The course includes one or more lecture courses on aspects of quantum information and foundations, as well as courses on a wide variety of other topics in theoretical physics and pure and applied mathematics.

Applications from graduate students to research centres in DAMTP are handled by the Board of Graduate Studies in the first instance, and then administered by the department. Applications for PhD places should thus be made to the Board of Graduate Studies in the first instance, specifying an interest in working at the CQIF in DAMTP. The information needed can all be found on this page . Note that the timetable for applications has some very early application deadlines.

The University's admissions process is quite slow and, beyond the initial acknowledgment of receipt of your application, past experience suggests it could be as late as May before you hear any more from the University. Once the application process has started, your application can be tracked using your self-service account .

Applications for the Part III course should also be made to the Board of Graduate Studies. The information needed can be found on this page .

Our standard method of funding UK and EU graduate students is by grants from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. These are allocated by the department, mostly after the Part III results in mid to late June. EPSRC studentships provide full support for UK students, and cover tuition fees for EU students from outside the UK.

There are some other possible sources for funding (which are not generally restricted to EU students): for example the Gates Foundation, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, and a small number of the wealthier Cambridge Colleges. Decisions on these scholarships are made in May. Unfortunately (at least for us!), these funding sources are entirely outside our control or influence; in particular there is nothing we can do to get a decision from them sooner than May. Applications to these organisations and institutions need to be made separately. The University's Board of Graduate Studies web pages --- reached from the above-mentioned links --- have some information; anyone needing clarification or advice should contact either them or the relevant organisation. We have no independent sources of support for non-EU students.

While we try to be helpful where possible, there is normally little that we can add to the information given here. We cannot generally comment in advance on the chances of any individual application to the CQIF being successful or offer advice in putting together an application. Applicants may find it helpful, though, to look at the information on our group web pages, and especially useful to look at some of the recent papers of CQIF members, which can mostly be found on the quantum physics archive . (Some recent papers are also linked from CQIF members' personal pages on this site.)

We normally interview  selected candidates once applications have been reviewed: the timetable for these varies from year to year.

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Computer science - phd (quantum information) at waterloo, program information.

 
Admit term(s)

Fall (September - December)

Winter (January - April)

Spring (May - August)

Application and document submission deadline(s)

December 1 (for admission in September of the following year)

June 1 (for admission in January of the following year)

October 1 (for admission in May of the following year)

Delivery mode On-campus
Program type Collaborative, Doctoral, Research
Length of program 48 months (full-time)
Registration option(s) Full-time, Part-time
Study option(s) Thesis

Watch the How to apply to Waterloo graduate studies video

What does it take to get in?

Minimum admission requirements.

  • A Master's degree in Computer Science with a 78% average.
  • Student with an undergraduate degree in Computer Science may apply for admission directly to the PhD program. Successful applicants will have an outstanding academic record, breadth of knowledge in computer science, and strong letters of recommendation.
  • PhD applicants may be admitted into the Master of Mathematics (MMath) program. Like all MMath students, they will have the option to transfer into the PhD program before completing the master's thesis if their performance warrants.

Supervisors

  • Review the finding a supervisor resources
  • Applicants do not need to have a confirmed supervisor before applying. If offered admission, a supervisor will be assigned at that time 

Application materials

  • The SIF contains questions specific to your program, typically about why you want to enrol and your experience in that field. Review the  application documents web page for more information about this requirement
  • If a statement or letter is required by your program, review the  writing your personal statement resources  for helpful tips and tricks on completion

Transcript(s)

  • Three  references are required; at least two academic
  • TOEFL 93 (writing 22, speaking 22), IELTS 6.5 (writing 6.0, speaking 6.5)

How much will it cost?

  • Use the student budget calculator to estimate your cost and resources
  • Visit the  graduate program tuition page  on the Finance website to determine the tuition and incidental fees per term for your program
  • Review the  study and living costs
  • Review the funding graduate school resources for graduate students

What can you expect at Waterloo?

  • Review the degree requirements in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar, including the courses that you can anticipate taking as part of completing the degree
  • Check out profiles of current graduate students to learn about their experience at Waterloo
  • Check out Waterloo's institutional thesis repository - UWspace to see recent submissions from the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science graduate students
  • Check out the Waterloo campus and city tours
  • Review the  David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science  website to see information about supervisors, research areas, news, and events

This program page is effective September 2023; it will be updated annually. Any changes to the program page following this date will be indicated with a notation. 

We strive to provide you with the necessary information on each of our program pages.  Was there something you found helpful?  Was there anything missing?  Share your thoughts .

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College of engineering.

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Preparing for Quantum Computing

By Giordana Verrengia

  • kristab(through)cmu.edu

While quantum computers are prototypical as of today, a security measure called post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is already in use — some notable examples being the Google Chrome browser and the internet giant Cloudflare.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Graz University of Technology in Austria, and Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia have collaborated to identify vulnerabilities in PQC. Their work — which looks at Dilithium, an electronic signature algorithm — is part of a concerted effort among industry professionals to beat the clock and develop a reliable PQC algorithm before quantum computers become readily available at least 10 years down the line.

Sam Pagliarini , a special professor of electrical and computer engineering, says there are key differences between applications of classical and quantum computers. The classical devices we use now, like laptops and desktops, will not be replaced. Quantum computers — which are designed to excel at complex calculations — will be used almost exclusively for research purposes in higher education and government settings to solve problems related to mathematics, physics, and chemistry.  

Given that quantum devices will be hard to access, why is post-quantum cryptography so important, and why is it currently in use?

Because of a tactic called “store now, decrypt later”: Hackers harvest encrypted data in hopes of acquiring the necessary decryption tools later. Data can be swiped from a classical device and decrypted later with a quantum computer, underscoring the need for industry and government figures to work ahead and introduce a standardized PQC algorithm well before the devices are built.

“PQC isn’t science fiction. It’s serious in the sense that the US government has a mandate in place for every federal agency to switch to a form of communication that is secure against quantum computers . For some, the deadline is as soon as 2025,” Pagliarini says. 

One way to test if PQC algorithms are up to the challenge involves ethical hacking. Pagliarini and his fellow researchers created an algorithm called REPQC to identify any security vulnerabilities when Dilithium is implemented as a computer chip. Dilithium’s lattice-based algorithm structure is important to probe because it was chosen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for standardization as experts work to advance PQC. Using reverse engineering, the team inserted a hardware trojan horse (HTH) that used reverse engineering to locate where sensitive data was stored on the hardware accelerator. The team developed additional circuitry that leaked a secret key, which decrypts data and could be used to forge signatures.

“My entire motivation is to find weak spots and bring attention to them,” says Pagliarini. “This research is mostly about protection against a new class of devices, quantum computers, while not losing sight of threats that exist today, such as reverse engineering.”

The multi-university team’s paper, “REPQC: Reverse Engineering and Backdooring Hardware Accelerators for Post-quantum Cryptography,” was accepted to the prestigious 19th ACM ASIA Conference on Computer and Communications Security taking place in Singapore from July 1-5, 2024.

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What to do with my life after a PhD in quantum computing?

I’m looking for some words of wisdom and would appreciate input from this community.

I’m currently in my last year of a PhD in theoretical quantum computing / quantum physics, finishing in spring 2024. In the end I slipped into quantum communication/cryptography, which I’m not particularly passionate about. I started my PhD a few weeks before Covid hit, so due to that and my own passivity I (got) stuck with the first project and area I was involved in. I don’t see myself continuing in this subfield long term and the PhD has not been the best time for me.

My background is physics and mathematics. Saying this without arrogance, my CV is quite strong I think. I did my undergraduate in my central European home country, worked hard and got into Oxbridge (one of the two) for my Masters and then went back to mainland Europe to do the quantum PhD in one of the most well known and largest theoretical quantum computing groups there is with a supervisor who’s somewhat famous in the field.

Unfortunately, my long term relationship ended earlier this year and I’m not ready to get involved with anyone anytime soon, so I’m quite flexible in what to do / where to go. I think I want my next destination to be in the Anglosphere again (either UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, maybe US but am skeptical if I’d actually want to go to US).

I’m currently thinking a lot about my future career options. I have some loose ideas, both in and outside of academia (the list is not ranked by preference) but nothing too concrete unfortunately:

1.) Continue in quantum as a post-doc, but more towards physics (which I’m more interested in). Being a theorist maybe in quantum foundations, maybe quantum optics, maybe photonic quantum devices.

2.) Continue in quantum as a researcher in a startup in quantum industry or government lab, i.e. “post-doc in industry”. A lot of opportunities there at the moment and it’s still in the research stage, so you get to do research-style work but get paid significantly more than a post-doc does and may still have the option to go back into academia afterwards if wanted. But quite a bit of what quantum industry does/claims at them moment is overhyping and bullshitting, which I’m not very keen to be involved in.

3.) Leave quantum behind and do some actual good for the world. For example doing a PhD or job in physics/modelling of climate change or renewable energy. I don’t know how easy it is to transition, though. Obviously, I don’t really have the background for it apart from basics. I’m also 29 years old and doing another PhD would make me poor well into my mid-30s, not a great prospect.

4.) Do something towards “earning to give”. Go into some ethically not evil quantitative finance job and earn large amounts of money for the next 5-15 years. Then have a comfortable life and switch to charity / philanthropic type of work and maybe do some science as an independent guy. Again, I don’t know how easy or hard that route is, but seems achievable and not too uncommon for people with similar backgrounds to mine. But I don’t know how soul-sucking this work would be.

5.) Tend to my inner child who has always been passionate about aviation and wanted to become a pilot. After high school my eyes were too weak for a Class 1 Medical. They still are but I’m very close to the thresholds, so it might be feasible. There’s also a lot more possibilities other than commercial pilot that I was not aware of when I was younger, some not requiring a Class 1 Medical. This would be a huge career change and has a lot of uncertainty and potentially high financial risk attached to it. The aviation industry is also notoriously harsh the alternatives to commercial pilot don’t pay very well.

6.) I’m very interested in the human mind and psychology. Occasionally I dabble in thoughts about changing career towards psychology or psychiatry. Again, would be a large career change with a lot of uncertainty and it would make me poor well into my late 30s probably. Although would be very meaningful and would directly help people.

7.) I’m interested in what happens on a global scale. So sometimes I’m playing with the thought of going into politics / diplomacy or more a managerial position in an industry I’m interested in (like aviation or climate change). Again, I have no clue at this time how feasible this is but know that a good amount of politicians and top managers have backgrounds in physics/mathematics.

I enjoy thinking about fundamental problems. At the same time, I think I don’t see myself doing hardcore theoretical work for the rest of my life. Neither do I see myself doing experimental work in a lab (I've been there). I don’t see myself long term working on a niche problem that 10 other people on the planet care about. I think I want to work a bit more on things that actually do or have a chance to influence people’s lives (to the positive) in the near/middle-term future. Do something with a bit more immediate and tangible results. And also interact with a bit more people.

I feel like I have chased work that I found most stimulating intellectually, but with not much regards to anything else. I feel like I need something a bit more aligned with my values and underestimated how much external motivation that can probably give you. I always thought the motivation must come from only within, from enjoying the material/topic you think about, but then as a young undergraduate/graduate student you have no clue what doing research is actually like and how unnaturally cleaned up and satisfyingly packaged undergraduate/graduate study material and results are, compared to research. I also don't enjoy some aspects of academia, like spending hours or more nit-picking and arguing about something minor (be it research or administrative or publishing) that in the grand scheme of things is just so irrelevant.

I also feel a bit out of place in my field and sometimes find it hard to interact with my fellow colleagues. I don’t have that many shared interests with them and sometimes the lack of empathy / social skills in theorists can be draining. I’m not saying I’m a big social butterfly, but social/emotional enough to feel a bit out of place at times. To be fair, most of my immediate colleagues are very nice, but we just have quite different interests and personalities.

I’d really appreciate advice, stories, wisdom from people who also were very unsure what to do at the end of their PhDs. People who maybe changed careers. People who maybe work on something unrelated to their PhD now. People who took a leap of faith and tried something. Also people who stayed in academia, even if they were unsure about it.

How did you find out what you want to do? How did everything work out? How relevant is your PhD to what you do now? If you could go back to the end of your PhD, what would you do differently? How did you make contacts for your post-PhD job? Do you regret anything?

Coming from a small countryside village and being a first generation student, my career and ambitions are quite removed from the way and the environment I grew up in. So I have/had no guidance really and am thus struggling a bit with knowing what to do.

Thanks so much to everyone who takes the time to read this and respond!

Suggestions or feedback?

MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Scientists observe record-setting electron mobility in a new crystal film

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A material with a high electron mobility is like a highway without traffic. Any electrons that flow into the material experience a commuter’s dream, breezing through without any obstacles or congestion to slow or scatter them off their path.

The higher a material’s electron mobility, the more efficient its electrical conductivity, and the less energy is lost or wasted as electrons zip through. Advanced materials that exhibit high electron mobility will be essential for more efficient and sustainable electronic devices that can do more work with less power.

Now, physicists at MIT, the Army Research Lab, and elsewhere have achieved a record-setting level of electron mobility in a thin film of ternary tetradymite — a class of mineral that is naturally found in deep hydrothermal deposits of gold and quartz.

For this study, the scientists grew pure, ultrathin films of the material, in a way that minimized defects in its crystalline structure. They found that this nearly perfect film — much thinner than a human hair — exhibits the highest electron mobility in its class.

The team was able to estimate the material’s electron mobility by detecting quantum oscillations when electric current passes through. These oscillations are a signature of the quantum mechanical behavior of electrons in a material. The researchers detected a particular rhythm of oscillations that is characteristic of high electron mobility — higher than any ternary thin films of this class to date.

“Before, what people had achieved in terms of electron mobility in these systems was like traffic on a road under construction — you’re backed up, you can’t drive, it’s dusty, and it’s a mess,” says Jagadeesh Moodera, a senior research scientist in MIT’s Department of Physics. “In this newly optimized material, it’s like driving on the Mass Pike with no traffic.”

The team’s results, which appear today in the journal Materials Today Physics , point to ternary tetradymite thin films as a promising material for future electronics, such as wearable thermoelectric devices that efficiently convert waste heat into electricity. (Tetradymites are the active materials that cause the cooling effect in commercial thermoelectric coolers.) The material could also be the basis for spintronic devices, which process information using an electron’s spin, using far less power than conventional silicon-based devices.

The study also uses quantum oscillations as a highly effective tool for measuring a material’s electronic performance.

“We are using this oscillation as a rapid test kit,” says study author Hang Chi, a former research scientist at MIT who is now at the University of Ottawa. “By studying this delicate quantum dance of electrons, scientists can start to understand and identify new materials for the next generation of technologies that will power our world.”

Chi and Moodera’s co-authors include Patrick Taylor, formerly of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, along with Owen Vail and Harry Hier of the Army Research Lab, and Brandi Wooten and Joseph Heremans of Ohio State University.

The name “tetradymite” derives from the Greek “tetra” for “four,” and “dymite,” meaning “twin.” Both terms describe the mineral’s crystal structure, which consists of rhombohedral crystals that are “twinned” in groups of four — i.e. they have identical crystal structures that share a side.

Tetradymites comprise combinations of bismuth, antimony tellurium, sulfur, and selenium. In the 1950s, scientists found that tetradymites exhibit semiconducting properties that could be ideal for thermoelectric applications: The mineral in its bulk crystal form was able to passively convert heat into electricity.

Then, in the 1990s, the late Institute Professor Mildred Dresselhaus proposed that the mineral’s thermoelectric properties might be significantly enhanced, not in its bulk form but within its microscopic, nanometer-scale surface, where the interactions of electrons is more pronounced. (Heremans happened to work in Dresselhaus’ group at the time.)

“It became clear that when you look at this material long enough and close enough, new things will happen,” Chi says. “This material was identified as a topological insulator, where scientists could see very interesting phenomena on their surface. But to keep uncovering new things, we have to master the material growth.”

To grow thin films of pure crystal, the researchers employed molecular beam epitaxy — a method by which a beam of molecules is fired at a substrate, typically in a vacuum, and with precisely controlled temperatures. When the molecules deposit on the substrate, they condense and build up slowly, one atomic layer at a time. By controlling the timing and type of molecules deposited, scientists can grow ultrathin crystal films in exact configurations, with few if any defects.

“Normally, bismuth and tellurium can interchange their position, which creates defects in the crystal,” co-author Taylor explains. “The system we used to grow these films came down with me from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where we use high purity materials to minimize impurities to undetectable limits. It is the perfect tool to explore this research.”

The team grew thin films of ternary tetradymite, each about 100 nanometers thin. They then tested the film’s electronic properties by looking for Shubnikov-de Haas quantum oscillations — a phenomenon that was discovered by physicists Lev Shubnikov and Wander de Haas, who found that a material’s electrical conductivity can oscillate when exposed to a strong magnetic field at low temperatures. This effect occurs because the material’s electrons fill up specific energy levels that shift as the magnetic field changes.

Such quantum oscillations could serve as a signature of a material’s electronic structure, and the ways in which electrons behave and interact. Most notably for the MIT team, the oscillations could determine a material’s electron mobility: If oscillations exist, it must mean that the material’s electrical resistance is able to change, and by inference, electrons can be mobile, and made to easily flow.

The team looked for signs of quantum oscillations in their new films, by first exposing them to ultracold temperatures and a strong magnetic field, then running an electric current through the film and measuring the voltage along its path, as they tuned the magnetic field up and down.

“It turns out, to our great joy and excitement, that the material’s electrical resistance oscillates,” Chi says. “Immediately, that tells you that this has very high electron mobility.”

Specifically, the team estimates that the ternary tetradymite thin film exhibits an electron mobility of 10,000 cm 2 /V-s — the highest mobility of any ternary tetradymite film yet measured. The team suspects that the film’s record mobility has something to do with its low defects and impurities, which they were able to minimize with their precise growth strategies. The fewer a material’s defects, the fewer obstacles an electron encounters, and the more freely it can flow.

“This is showing it’s possible to go a giant step further, when properly controlling these complex systems,” Moodera says. “This tells us we’re in the right direction, and we have the right system to proceed further, to keep perfecting this material down to even much thinner films and proximity coupling for use in future spintronics and wearable thermoelectric devices.”

This research was supported in part by the Army Research Office, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Canada Research Chairs Program and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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