Graduate Program in Biophysics

Biophysics is a degree granting Ph.D. Program, with an application deadline of December 1, 2022. Apply directly to the Biophysics Program through the Princeton University Graduate School.

The Program in Biophysics (BPY) is intended to facilitate graduate education at Princeton at the interface of the physical and the life sciences. Administered from Lewis-Sigler Institute, Biophysics is a collaboration in multidisciplinary graduate education among faculty in the Institute and the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and Physics. The program encompasses the full range of biophysics research at Princeton: from molecules to animals and cells to ecosystems, including work in both experiment and theory.

Joshua W. Shaevitz 
Director of Graduate Studies
244 Carl Icahn Laboratory    

Sara Thibeault
Graduate Administrator
256 Carl Icahn Lab

Who Should Apply

Biophysics aims to educate the next generation of leaders at the interface of the physical and the life sciences. We welcome applications from students whose undergraduate experience focused on biophysical problems, but also students from either the physical or life sciences who wish to further their education in a more interdisciplinary direction. Students receive a stipend and tuition that is covered throughout the program.

Program Highlights

  • An Outstanding Tradition: Chartered in 1746, Princeton University has long been considered among the world’s most outstanding institutions of higher education, with particular strength in mathematics and the physics. Building upon the legacies of greats such as Compton, Feynman, and Einstein, Princeton established the Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics in 1999 to carry this tradition of quantitative science into the realm of biology. Princeton University is also the home to the Center for the Physics Of Biological Function, an NSF Physics Frontier Center focused on experimental and theoretical research in biophysics.
  • World Class Research: Biophysics research at Princeton encompasses work on all scales of life. Intact, functioning biological systems are genuinely complex, and it is hard to do the kinds of reproducible, quantitative experiments that are a hallmark of physics. Inside these systems is such a morass of descriptive details that it raises concerns about the value of studying intact systems and processes. However, this sense of gloom is balanced by the fact that living matter organizes itself to do remarkable things. The biophysics community at Princeton attacks these challenges from all angles, combining cutting edge precision experimental measurements and biological manipulation with fundamental theory and phenomenology to make sense of complex biological phenomena. From the mechanics of molecules to communities of bacteria to the development of tissues to networks of thousands of neurons in the brain, we make progress through collaborative efforts that merge different departments and ways of thinking.
  • World Class Faculty: These research efforts are led by the BPY program’s 35 faculty, who include members of the National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Investigators, and early career faculty who have received major national research awards and prizes. See the full list of faculty here.
  • Personalized Education: A hallmark of any Princeton education is personal attention. The BPY program is no exception. Group sizes are generally modest, typically 6 – 16 researchers, and all students have extensive direct contact with their faculty mentors. Many students choose to work at the interface of two different groups, enabling them to build close intellectual relationships with multiple faculty. 
  • Stimulating Environment: The physical heart of the BPY program is the Carl Icahn Laboratory, an architectural landmark located adjacent to physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics on Princeton’s main campus. Students have access to a wealth of resources, both intellectual and tangible, such as world-leading capabilities in microscopy, computation, and fabrication. They also benefit from the friendly atmosphere of the Institute, which includes tea and cookies every afternoon. When not busy doing science, students can partake in an active campus social scene and world class arts and theater events on campus.

Diversity and Inclusion:  We believe that the highest levels of research, scholarship, and teaching are obtained only through the combined participation of people with a diversity of viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences. For this reason, we welcome students from under-represented and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and strive to provide an environment that embraces all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities. See The Program for Diversity and Graduate Recruitment for more information.  

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) at Princeton University offers a range of services to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to Princeton's academic and extracurricular opportunities. Prospective students with disabilities considering study in any of Princeton’s programs are encouraged to contact ODS to learn more about the services and accommodations that can be provided. The Disability Services staff is available to meet with prospective students who are visiting the campus and current students who have a disability or suspect they may have a disability.