Master of Medical Physics
Penn’s goal is to ensure that the Medical Physics Programs continue to provide the most advanced, rigorous and innovative education in this highly competitive and evolving field. We are currently putting a hold on admissions in order to do a full evaluation of our curriculum, research opportunities and professional development. The current master’s and post-graduate certificate programs will continue to serve its currently enrolled students. However, we will not admit a new class in fall 2017 and we are no longer accepting application submissions. We welcome you to contact our program team if you have any questions about this update.
Penn’s Master of Medical Physics (MMP) degree prepares students to bridge physics and clinical medicine, overseeing clinical applications of radiation and creating the cutting-edge medical technologies of tomorrow. Our two-year program combines the resources of one of the world’s top research universities and most prestigious medical schools, offering an outstanding education and unmatched opportunities.
During the program, you gain the clinical experience necessary to apply for residencies and move into clinical practice. As a full-time student, you can complete the Master of Medical Physics program in two years. In the second year, clinical rotations place you in the University of Pennsylvania Health System or at one of our hospital affiliates.
As a Penn Master of Medical Physics graduate, you have the opportunity to compete for preferentially awarded positions in our Medical Physics Residency program in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The year-long clinical experience may be renewed for a second year and counts toward requirements for certification by the American Board of Radiology.
Students may also have the opportunity to find part-time clinical work in the University of Pennsylvania Health System to gain relevant clinical experience while earning a stipend.
Master of Medical Physics courses and curriculum
The Master of Medical Physics curriculum integrates theory, cutting-edge clinical application and medical ethics training to prepare you for a career as an innovative leader in medical physics. As you learn new theories and techniques, you put them into practice at our world-class medical facilities on Penn’s campus.
As you become more familiar with the diverse branches of medical physics available, you have the opportunity to follow your interests and explore your passion further by choosing one of our four subspecialties and creating your year-long capstone research project.
The capstone, a project of your own design and choosing, culminates in a paper and presentation. The project challenges you to bring together your skills and understanding in the area of medical physics most fascinating to you. It defines your time in the MMP program to future employers and often serves as a springboard to your residency or further graduate study.
The Master of Medical Physics degree consists of 15 medical physics course units (c.u)* at the graduate level. The program can typically be completed full time in four semesters and one summer session. Exceptions for part-time study may be granted by the Program Director.
Year 1 curriculum
During the first year, students will take the following eight required courses (7 c.u.):
- Introduction to Radiation Protection (MMP 501, .5 c.u.)
- Medical Ethics/Governmental Regulation (MMP 502, .5 c.u.)
- Physics of Radiation Therapy (MMP 506, 1 c.u.)
- Image-Based Anatomy (MMP 511, 1 c.u.), required by the American Board of Radiology
- Radiation Biology (MMP 512, 1 c.u.), required by the American Board of Radiology
- Introductory Practicum (MMP 525, a non-credit seminar course, 0 c.u.)
- Introductory Practicum II (MMP 526, a non-credit seminar course, 0 c.u.)
- Electromagnetism I (PHYS 561, 1 c.u.) and Electromagnetism II (PHYS 562, 1 c.u.) or Mathematical Methods (PHYS 500, 1 c.u.) and Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS 516, 1 c.u.)
- Medical Radiation Engineering (PHYS 582, 1 c.u.)
In addition to these medical physics courses, students will be required to complete an Introductory Practicum rotation (MMP 525 and 526), where they will be introduced to the various subspecialties of medical physics, including radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine and medical health physics.
Year 2 curriculum
During the second year, all students will take the following seven required courses (8 c.u.):
- Physics of Medical/Molecular Imaging (MMP 507, 1 c.u.)
- Capstone Project (MMP 69, 1 c.u.) and, (MMP 799, 1 c.u.)
- Mathematics for Medical Imaging (MATH 584, 1 c.u.)
- Advanced Laboratory (PHYS 521, 1 c.u.) with medical physics-specific experiments added
Students beginning their second year will choose an area of clinical concentration. With the guidance of their academic advisor or Program Director, students then select and arrange the following:
- Clinical Practicum (MMP 531, 1 c.u.)
- Two elective courses (2 c.u.)
Elective medical physics courses
The elective medical physics courses are an opportunity for you to bolster your learning in the area of your particular clinical concentration, or perhaps broaden your scope to include and explore a new subject. Elective courses may include:
- Introduction to Machine Learning
- Molecular Imaging
- Biological Physics
- Cancer Biology
- MRI Techniques
- Quantitative Image Analysis
- Other courses as approved by the Program Director
Introductory Practicum Series: Required, noncredit medical physics courses
The Medical Physics Introductory Practicum Series (MMP 525 and 526) introduces students to the various subspecialties of medical physics, including radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine and medical health physics. Leading scholars and practitioners of medical physics discuss possible career paths, new treatments and devices, and other topics from the front lines of the medical physics world. It introduces you to ideas and possibilities beyond the scope of your classes and creates the possibility for networking and finding your ideal career direction. All MMP students attend the noncredit lecture series as part of their medical physics course requirements.
The clinical practicum (MMP 531) gives students a practical experience in various aspects of medical physics. Taking place in a clinical setting, the practicum is designed to give you a better understanding of the clinical responsibilities of medical physicists, including instrumentation methodology, calibration, treatment planning and quality assurance. Students may choose a practicum focusing on radiation therapy, diagnostic imaging, radiation safety or nuclear medicine. Once you’ve chosen your area of clinical concentration, you work closely with your advisor to choose a clinical practicum. The program offers many choices of sites—large university health systems and smaller, private hospitals—at which qualified medical physicists supervise you while you spend 256 hours gaining valuable clinical experience.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Medical Physics Programs is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). Your completion of our CAMPEP-accredited program affords you—and your future employers—the confidence that are educated and trained at the highest standards of graduate medical physics study.
CAMPEP is a non-profit organization that reviews and accredits educational programs in medical physics. Accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental process of peer review. Accreditation serves as public recognition that a program or institution provides a quality education. Completion of a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program is a highly desired prerequisite for admission into a CAMPEP-accredited residency program.
PhD in Physics
Students enrolled in the Master of Medical Physics program who are interested in pursuing a PhD in physics, and who express a research interest in innovative concepts of physics in medicine, can apply to the Doctor of Philosophy program in the department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. PhD recipients will have completed the requirements necessary to apply for medical physics residency programs. The Penn PhD program is highly competitive, but completion of the MMP program gives you the advantage of previewing your capabilities to the Physics faculty before officially applying. MMP students are required to take two graduate-level physics courses (which can be applied to the PhD) and complete a year of research. You also have the opportunity to explore many research projects, mentors and funding sources as you narrow your career path.