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Graduate Education at Rochester

three studets

Outstanding scholarly and professional achievement: These are the goals of graduate study at the University. Admission is selective, the environment intimate and challenging. Here, promising candidates work closely with faculty to develop in-depth knowledge of their chosen fields as they establish themselves as independent, innovative scholars.

The University of Rochester offers graduate students the chance to pursue research at the highest level in an environment scaled to the individual. Graduate education is central to the mission of all schools and is an important vehicle for the missions of both research and professional preparation.

At one of the nation's leading universities, graduate students at Rochester work closely with faculty who are at the forefront of their fields. Students have exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study that few universities can match.

View our full listing of graduate programs

World-Class Environment and Resources

visitors touring the laser lab

Samuel Morse, OMEGA Facility Division Director at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, leads a tour of the OMEGA lasers.

The University's libraries, research facilities, departments, and schools each offer unique opportunities for intellectual, scientific, and artistic growth. For example, the Sibley Music Library, in expansive quarters at the Eastman School of Music, is one of the major music research libraries in the world. The Laboratory for Laser Energetics operates the most powerful ultraviolet laser in the world. The Institute of Optics is widely considered the nation's premier optics school and leads the country in basic optical research.

Federally sponsored awards to Rochester’s researchers continue to do well annually, despite flat government funding recently in real dollars.  In fiscal year 2011, Rochester was awarded $210 million from the National Institutes of Health, $72 million from the Department of Energy, and $14.5 million from the National Science Foundation, and expended in excess of $407 million for sponsored activities, an increase of 3.7 percent from fiscal year 2010.

The combination of research excellence and personal scale is seen when analyzing total award dollars of highly-competitive NSF grants normalized by the number of faculty. Year after year, this research productivity consistently puts Rochester in the top 15 funded institutions among universities nationwide when size is taken into account.

Recent Rankings

Evidence of the quality of Rochester's programs can be found in a variety of sources:

  • US News and World Report 2019:
    • National universities: 34th
    • Best value schools: 24th
    • Best graduate schools—physics (atomic, molecular, and optical): 10th
    • Best graduate schools—political science: 17th
    • Best graduate schools—economics: 21st
    • Best graduate schools—Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: 45th
  • US News and World Report: Medical schools 2019:
    • Best graduate schools—medicine research: 32nd
    • Best graduate schools—primary care: 32nd
  • Financial Times Top MBAs for Women 2018:
    • World business schools: 21st (Simon)
    • US business schools: 13th (Simon)

Distinguished Faculty

Rochester's faculty includes fellows of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences. Several professors have been officers of the leading academic societies in their fields, and our faculty counts a number of John S. Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Fellowship recipients among its ranks. 

Diverse Multinational Student Body

The approximately 4,500 graduate students at Rochester make up just under half of the total student body of about 10,000. About 1,200 graduate students (well over one-quarter) are from outside the US, with the largest numbers from China, followed by India, South Korea, and Taiwan. Students from all parts of the US and many nations collaborate and socialize in research groups, classrooms, and student organizations.  

Distinguished Alumni

In addition to multiple Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, our alumni also include scores of other prominent individuals, including:

  • D. Allan Bromley, Ph.D. '52, originator of the "Emperor" accelerator concept and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the first Bush administration;
  • Ernest D. Courant, Ph.D. '43, emeritus distinguished scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory;
  • Renée Fleming, M.M. '83, Grammy Award -winning soprano;
  • Bala Manian, M.S. '69, inventor of many of the technologies that create motion picture special effects;
  • Rick Rashid, Ph.D. '80, senior vice president for research at Microsoft; and
  • Myles Brand, Ph.D. '67, president of the NCAA (2002-2009).

Specialized Programs, Central Ph.D. Oversight

The masters and doctoral programs of the University of Rochester are directed by the faculties of the separate Schools. Applications are reviewed by the program faculty, and each graduate program is designed and delivered by the faculty in individual fields.

The University Dean of Graduate Studies oversees PhD programs and selects chairs of PhDs’ final oral defenses. This central office also manages several highly selective fellowships offered to entering students. Dean Margaret H. Kearney welcomes your interest in the University of Rochester for graduate study.

Contact the University Dean of Graduate Studies 

Melissa Sturge-Apple
Vice Provost and University Dean of Graduate Education
University of Rochester
260 Wallis Hall
PO Box 200015 
Rochester, NY 14627

Alternate contact:

Deborah Randle, MBA
Manager, University Graduate Studies
University of Rochester
259 Wallis Hall
PO Box 200015
Rochester, NY 14627