Master of Medical Physics
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’ll 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.
As a Penn Master of Medical Physics graduate, you have the opportunity to compete for dedicated 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’ll also be asked to 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 to you, you’ll have the opportunity to follow your interests and explore your passion further by choosing one of our four subspecialties and also creating your own large-scale clinical practicum project.
The capstone, a project of your own design and choosing that culminates in a paper and presentation, challenges you to bring together all your new skills and understanding in the service of the area of medical physics most fascinating to you. It defines your time at the MMP program to future employers and often serves as a springboard to your clinical placement 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 will normally be completed full time in four semesters, not including summer sessions. 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)
- Medical Ethics/Governmental Regulation (MMP 502)
- Physics of Radiation Therapy (MMP 506)
- Image-Based Anatomy (MMP 511), required by the American Board of Radiology
- Electromagnetism I (PHYS 561) or Mathematical Methods (PHYS 500)
- Electromagnetism II (PHYS 562) or Electromagnetic Phenomena (PHYS 516)
- Advanced Laboratory (PHYS 521), with MP-specific experiments added
- Medical Radiation Engineering (PHYS 582)
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 five required courses (6 c.u.):
- Physics of Medical/Molecular Imaging (BE 583/MMP 507)
- Radiation Biology (MMP 512) (required by the American Board of Radiology)
- Mathematics for Medical Imaging (MATH 584)
- Fundamental Techniques of Imaging/Therapy (MMP Lab Course) (BE 546)
- Capstone Project (2 c.u.) (MMP 699, MMP 799)
Students beginning their second year will choose an area of clinical concentration. Based on this area of clinical concentration, along with the guidance of their academic advisor or Program Director, students will select and arrange the following (for a total of 2 c.u.):
- Clinical Practica with presentation (MMP 531)
- One elective course
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 courses on the following topics:
- Molecular Imaging
- Quantitative Human Physiology
- Biological Physics
- Cancer Biology
- MRI Techniques
- Quantum Mechanics
- Quantitative Image Analysis
- Optical Imaging
- Probability and Statistics for Biotechnology
- Other courses as approved by the Program Director
Seminar Series: Required, noncredit medical physics course
The noncredit Medical Physics Seminar Series brings elite professionals to Penn’s campus to discuss possible career paths, new treatments and devices, and other topics from the front lines of the medical physics world. It will introduce you to ideas and possibilities beyond the scope of your classes and create the possibility for networking and finding your ideal career direction. All MMP students attend the Seminar Series as part of their medical physics course requirements.
Once you’ve chosen your area of clinical concentration, you’ll work closely with your advisor to choose a topic and project for your clinical practicum. This will help you choose how to spend the approximately 250 clinical hours you’ll complete in your second year — which facilities you want to work in, which researchers you want to work with and which questions you’ll ask as you do so.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Medical Physics Programs have been 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 you’ve been 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, nongovernmental 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 would also have the opportunity to explore many research projects, mentors and funding sources as you narrow your career path.
*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). Generally, a 1 c.u. course at Penn is equivalent to a three or four semester hour course elsewhere. In general, the average course offered at Penn is listed as being worth 1 c.u.; courses that include a lecture and a lab are often worth 1.5 c.u.s.