Thematic VISP Track: Physics

The UW–Madison Physics Department awarded its first PhD in 1899. Since then our students have earned degrees in virtually every area of physics, and our faculty have played key roles in myriad important research efforts. We are training over 170 PhD students as the next generation of physics researchers who are already earning recognition and making significant accomplishments in their field. Each year, our instructional teams teach introductory physics to nearly 2,000 undergrads from majors across campus. International students are a significant component of our graduate degree student cohort.

Program Overview

Participants in the VISP thematic track in Physics are invited to interface with faculty undertaking cutting-edge research at a leading US university, with our first-rate undergraduate and graduate students, and with our many remarkable and helpful staff, to participate in weekly Physics and Astronomy colloquia (with refreshments!) and daily seminars in research areas such as machine learning in physics, AMO and quantum computing, plasma physics, high energy physics, astrophysics, and fundamental theory, to enjoy the undergraduate Physics Club, annual Department Picnic, and other departmental events, and to exploit opportunities for supervised independent study as well as explore our comprehensive curriculum.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison physics department consists of members with varied national origin, ethnic background, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, age, physical ability, and religion. As a community, we are committed to being positive and inclusive in all regards.

The UW-Madison overview, our undergraduate handbook , and our majors general information webpages  provide an introduction to our program.

Student Support

From the time you apply to the end of your stay, the VISP staff will be there to assist you. As a VISP participant you have full access to all academic and student support services, such as libraries, computer labs, clubs, and sports facilities; the opportunity to participate in VISP sponsored social and cultural events; and upon completion you will receive an official UW–Madison transcript.

Participants in this thematic track may contact the department for information about courses and programs not otherwise available through the VISP program office and online sources.

Program Eligibility

Participants must meet the VISP eligibility criteria for admission into this program. This Thematic Track admits students at the Undergraduate, Graduate, or Dissertator level.

Physics courses beyond the introductory level do not necessarily have explicit prerequisites in mathematics but are mathematical and quantitative in nature. VISP students interested in taking intermediate and advanced physics courses as part of this VISP thematic track program should have completed or are in the process of completing intermediate math classes.

Available Terms

Fall and Spring semesters and during the Summer Term. Most Physics courses are offered during both the fall and spring semesters. Summer Term courses are available at the introductory level.

Academics & Course Offerings

The study of physics begins with understanding familiar phenomena at the macroscopic scale and advances to exploring and understanding the submicroscopic quantum universe and the universe at stellar, galactic, and cosmological scales. Physics courses beyond the introductory level do not have explicit prerequisites in mathematics but are mathematical and quantitative.

Students in our VISP Physics thematic track may select from many interesting and challenging classes at the introductory to the graduate level. Course descriptions and prerequisites are available through the UW-Madison public course search and at the Physics Department website.

For in-depth advising regarding Physics course choices–especially for upper-level classes, please contact a physics advisor. Students may register for any course, regardless of requisites with the consent of the course instructor.

For enrollment, course access, and wait list questions, please contact

Cost of Attendance

Estimated cost of attendance information is available on the VISP website.

Application Instructions

Submit your VISP application and in your essay please include: “I am applying for the Physics VISP track.”

Questions? Please contact the VISP coordinators.

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