Quantum Science and Engineering

Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

Program Offerings:

  • Ph.D.

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.




Application deadline
December 15, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (This deadline is for applications for enrollment beginning in fall 2024)
Program length
5 years
General test - optional/not required; subject test in Physics, Chemistry, or Math - optional/not required

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)

Course begins with an overview of DiVincenzo criteria for physical implementation of algorithms, then moves to consideration of leading contenders for a physical system, including superconducting qubits, electron spins in semiconductors and on liquid helium, and ion-trap-based quantum computers. A variety of possible quantum architectures will be considered. Weekly problem sets. Knowledge of quantum mechanics at the undergraduate level will be assumed.

QSE 501 - Current Topics in Quantum Science and Engineering

This course focuses on contemporary research in quantum science, including quantum computing and quantum information processing, quantum measurement, quantum communication and networks, quantum sensing and metrology, and quantum devices. The emphasis is to understand the current literature in the context of the broader QSE field, and to learn how to critically evaluate claims and evidence. Knowledge of quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and statistical mechanics at the undergraduate level, and concurrent enrollment in QSE core courses is assumed.