Bridge Program

APS Bridge Logo

APS Bridge Program

The University of Rochester is committed to increasing the diversity of its student body, faculty, and staff. This is why we've decided to become a partner institution with the APS Bridge and Cal-Bridge programs. These bridge programs help students bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students applying to our program that have an undergraduate degree in physics, but do not have either the coursework, research experience, or guidance to apply for admission and pursue a PhD, are eligible to apply to the Bridge Program.

Mentoring and Support

When Bridge students first enter the program they will be paired up with a faculty mentor, whom they will meet with on a weekly basis. Students’ faculty mentors can provide advice and help with any problems that may arise. Each incoming class of students will also work with a cohort advisor, who is a separate faculty member that can provide additional guidance.

Our department also has a robust peer mentoring program. All graduate students will be paired with one or more senior graduate student mentors. Mentors will actively check in with mentees throughout the year to talk and make sure that everything is going well. This program is currently run by the student group PASSAGE.

In addition to having multiple mentors, there are a variety of other types of support available to graduate students. There are many organizations that offer support to students and are often student led, such as the:

There are also multiple assistance programs for gradaute students who are interested in becoming tutors or teachers:

  • Becoming an undergradaute physics tutor through the local chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS)
  • Take a training from the College’s Teaching Center on how to be teaching assistants or future faculty members

Those looking for help in their own work and visit the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program, which offers support on any kind of academic writing, and the Language Center, which offers tutoring in a variety of languages.

Additional resources are also avaliable for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education available, and can be fond on our URMs in STEM page.


Most Bridge students can expect to primarily take advanced undergraduate courses their first year to prepare them to take the core graduate courses in their second. In this way, Bridge students will move through our program together, with a broader cohort of graduate students after their first year. In their first fall semester, Bridge students will take:

  • PHY 235: Classical Mechanics I
  • PHY 217: Electricity and Magnetism I
  • CASC 401: Navigating the Graduate Academy*
  • PHY 401: Math Methods, or an elective
  • PHY 498: Supervised Teaching Assistant I (0 credits)

*CASC 401 is a 1 credit course that is designed to support students from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education to be equipped for success in graduate school and beyond.

In the spring semester of their first year, Bridge students will take:

  • PHY 237: Quantum Mechanics of Physical Systems
  • PHY 218: Electricity & Magnetism II
  • PHY 227: Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 403: Modern Statistics and Exploration, or an elective
  • PHY 499: Supervised Teaching Assistant II

If students feel that they are ready to skip one (or more) of the undergraduate courses (courses whose number is less than 400) they may place out of it by taking one of the class’s past final exams. In their second year, Bridge students can expect to take exclusively graduate courses. In the fall, these will be:

  • PHY 407: Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHY 415: Electromagnetic Theory I
  • An elective
  • And in the Spring they will take:
  • PHY 418: Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 403: Modern Statistics and Exploration (if not already completed)
  • An elective

Students can continue on to do full-time research after a satisfactory performance in these courses (an average grade of B+ or higher in undergraduate courses and at least B- in graduate ones).


Bridge students in our program, like all of our graduate students, are currently funded by being teaching assistants. During their first two years in the program, Bridge students will be teaching assistants in undergraduate physics courses in addition to taking classes. Once a student joins a research group (typically in their third or fourth year) that can support them financially, they are no longer required to teach.

Application process

Applications to the Bridge program are overseen by the APS, and qualified students can apply online through APS.


If you have any questions please reach out to us!

Segev BenZvi, Professor

Linda Case, Graduate Program Office