Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs
Graduate program director
Geoffrey D. Hugo, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
Medical physics education coordinator
Program website: medicalphysics.vcu.edu
Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.
Medical Physics, Master of Science (M.S.)
Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.
Medical Physics, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School and the School of Medicine, students are expected to satisfy the following minimum standards for admission.
Provisional admission may be granted where deficiencies exist. These deficiencies must be removed by the end of the first year of residence, or its part-time equivalent, when the student’s application will be re-examined. Courses that are designed to remove deficiencies will not be accepted for credit hours toward the graduate degree.
The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.
It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.
General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU
The Ph.D. in Medical Physics offers students course work and research training in physics as it is applied to the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. The mission of the doctoral program is to serve the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation by helping to meet the demand for competent medical physicists in both the health care delivery and biomedical research settings. The program will prepare students for careers as independent investigators in the field of medical physics and jointly for careers in university departments, research institutes, laboratories and hospitals as trainee clinical medical physicists. Research areas include molecular imaging, functional imaging using PET and NMR, cone-beam CT image reconstruction, deformable image registration, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, radiation therapy dose calculations, 4D radiation therapy and brachytherapy dose calculations.
Professional competency: To develop professional competency in medical physics by providing a framework in which students progressively develop a mastery of the current state of medical physics and an ability to synthesize this information and apply it in research and clinical settings. Additionally, the program aims to develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of medical physics knowledge and expression of experimental design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences.
Scientific competency: To develop scientific competency in medical physics by providing a framework by which candidates develop skills to design, conduct and implement theoretical and clinical research which answers identified questions. The research focus may lead to new and/or improved applications of physics for diagnosis and treatment of disease. Candidate research will focus on medical imaging, radiation therapy, radiation metrology or other burgeoning areas of investigation. In broad terms, candidate research will be directed toward advancing "minimally invasive medicine” through applications of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students entering the program with an undergraduate degree are required to earn a minimum of 30 credit hours in didactic or laboratory course work. Students entering with a master’s degree in medical physics, physics or an appropriate related field are required to earn a minimum of 18 credit hours. In addition to course work, the Ph.D. requires a minimum of 12 credit hours in MEDP 697 Directed Research. At least half of the course work must be earned at the 600 level or higher. Detailed degree requirements are listed below and in the medical physics graduate handbook.
All new Ph.D. students entering the program will be assigned an adviser. After successful completion of the written comprehensive exam, students and advisers will develop a graduate dissertation committee. The committee will direct the students in their research and subsequent course selection. Advisers will report once a semester to the program director on the academic progress of their students and will administer the oral candidacy and dissertation defense examinations.
The student is required to complete written and oral examinations to be admitted as a Ph.D. candidate. The written comprehensive examination covers core knowledge and applications in medical physics course work, as well as basic concepts in physics, chemistry and biology. The oral examination, administered by the student’s graduate dissertation committee, is based upon a written prospectus describing the proposed dissertation research project. Examiners evaluate the adequacy of the proposed project, the student’s level of understanding of the project and the likelihood that the dissertation can be completed successfully.
After being approved for degree candidacy, the student must conduct substantial original investigation under the supervision of the advisers and must prepare a dissertation reporting the results of the research in the context of existing scientific knowledge. After the dissertation has been completed and unanimously accepted for defense by the graduate dissertation committee, the candidate will appear before the committee for an oral defense. The oral dissertation defense examines the candidate’s research, dissertation documentation and underlying fundamental knowledge. Upon successful completion of the defense and dissertation, the student may apply for graduation with a Ph.D. in Medical Physics.
|Recommended core courses||26|
|MEDP 561 Topographical Anatomy and Physiology||1|
|MEDP 563 Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry||4|
|MEDP 567 Introduction to Radiation Therapy Physics||3|
|MEDP 601 Health Physics||3|
|MEDP 630 Radiobiology for the Medical Physicist||3|
|MEDP 633 Advanced Radiation Therapy Physics||4|
|MEDP 635 Physics of CT||2|
|MEDP 636 Physics of MRI||3|
|MEDP 637 Physics of Nuclear Medicine||2|
|MEDP 689 Medical Physics Literature Review||1|
|BIOS/STAT 543 Statistical Methods I||3|
|BIOS/STAT 544 Statistical Methods II||3|
|MEDP 682 Clinical Rotations in Medical Physics (variable credits, may be repeated)||3-6|
|OVPR 601 Scientific Integrity, OVPR 602 Responsible Scientific Conduct or OVPR 603 Responsible Conduct of Research||1|
|STAT 541 Applied Statistics for Engineers and Scientists||3|
|MEDP 697 Directed Research (1-15 variable credit hours)||12 (minimum)|
|Total graduate credit hours required (minimum)||42|
Many students often end up taking more than the minimum number of hours required for a degree program. The total number of hours may vary depending upon the program, nature of research being conducted by a study, or in the enrollment or funding status of the student. Students should refer to their program websites and talk with their graduate program directors or advisers for information about typical plans of study and registration requirements.
A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.
Degree candidacy requirements
As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.
The medical physics graduate program student handbook is available at medicalphysics.vcu.edu/handbook/2014-2015.StudentHandbook.pdf.
School of Medicine graduate program policies
The School of Medicine provides policies applicable to all programs administratively housed in the school. Information on doctoral programs is available in the Graduate Bulletin at pubapps.vcu.edu/Bulletins/about/?uid=10046&iid=30114.