Health physics — or the science of radiation protection — is the profession devoted to protecting people and their environment from potential radiation hazards while making it possible to enjoy the beneficial uses of radiation.

The use of radiation in medicine, industry and research offers countless benefits. To ensure that radiation and radioactive materials are used safely, nuclear facilities and research laboratories demand personnel who understand the many types of radiation hazards and how to prevent and control them. Specialized education and training is a prerequisite for becoming a professional health physicist. To qualify for professional status, a health physicist needs at least a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering or health science with specialized courses in physics, mathematics, chemistry, nuclear engineering, radiation biology, radiological health and occupational health. A graduate degree in health physics is required for many professional-level positions, particularly for those involving health physics research or teaching.

Program Highlights

  • Opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research in instrumentation development and nuclear security risk assessment.
  • Excellent internship and job opportunities with nearly 100% placement.
  • One of the United States’ oldest health physics programs.

Potential Careers

  • Industrial and applied health physicists
  • Environmental health physicists
  • Health physics researchers
  • Health physics regulators
  • Health physics educators
  • Medical health physicists
  • Radiation safety officers


MS Thesis Plan of Study MS Non-Thesis Plan of Study PhD Plan of Study

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Research is an important component of the health physics graduate program. To advance discovery in instrumentation development and nuclear security risk assessment, you will have opportunities to work alongside award-winning faculty across a variety of focus areas. These areas include radiation waste management, radiation exposure and more.

Research Opportunities

  • Radiation shielding and dosimetry
  • Radiation waste treatment and management
  • Radiation biology
  • Environmental radiation and biological effects of low-dose radiation exposure

Research Facilities

  • Life Science MRI facility
  • The Birck Nanotechnology Center
  • The Bindley Bioscience Center
  • The Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering
  • Purdue’s Center for the Environment


Applications submitted prior to January 10, 2023 will be considered for fellowships and awards.

Important to note:

  • Domestic students (U.S. citizens and green card holders) can apply directly to the medical physics, medical imaging and toxicology programs.
  • At this time, Purdue University is not certified by the Department of Homeland Security to offer visa eligibility documents to international students who are admitted into the medical physics, toxicology and imaging sciences programs. Instead, international students can apply for these programs through the health sciences program, and indicate your program of interest as a concentration. The plans of study and consideration of admissions are the same. For additional information, please contact International Student Services by emailing
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Jason Harris

Jason T. Harris | Program Director

For questions regarding the health physics graduate program, please contact

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