Radiological Medical Physics

Radiological medical physics is an applied branch of physics concerned with the application of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Professionals in this area are involved with clinical service, consultation, teaching, and research. Training and work in radiological medical physics is frequently divided into two areas: therapeutic and diagnostic. One major service is the planning of radiation treatments for cancer patients. Such treatments use external radiation beams or internal radioactive sources and optimize the tumor-to-healthy tissue dose ratio. An indispensable service is the accurate measurement of radiation output from sources employed in cancer therapy. In the diagnostic area, medical physicists frequently work on improvements in methods of image acquisition, for example, to shorten the acquisition time, to reduce the dose of radiation required, or to improve the sensitivity and specificity of disease detection. Other important functions in both therapeutic and diagnostic medical physics include the investigation of equipment performance, organization of quality control practices, design of radiation installations, and control of medical radiation hazards. Such individuals often find their primary responsibilities in radiation therapy, nuclear medicine, or diagnostic imaging areas. 

Our Programs

 The University of Kentucky currently offers a Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, and a one-year certificate program in radiological medical physics.  

Master of Science in Radiological Medical Physics

Students can follow an emphasis on either therapeutic or diagnostic medical physics. The program provides students in either track with a thorough grounding in fundamental physics of radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging. Didactic learning is reinforced with hands-on experience using state-of-the-art equipment and clinical rotations. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Programs (CAMPEP).

Doctor of Philosophy in Radiation and Radiological Sciences

The PhD program is based on the MS program in terms of coursework and clinical training. It provides students with intensive and in-depth training in research and clinic work to prepare them for a successful career in academics, clinical service, or industry.

One Year Medical Physics Certificate Program

The UK College of Medicine Radiation Medicine Department offers a graduate certificate in General Radiological Medical Physics. For more details go here.

Program Features

  • Comprehensive didactic education in the physics of radiation medicine and medical imaging.

  • Intensive, hands-on clinical training to complement the didactic education.

  • Small, selective program that provides individual mentoring for all students. The program accepts a maximum of eight students per year.

  • Has a 40-year history of providing didactic and clinical training of the highest quality.

  • Offers both in-house and affiliate residencies that exclusively accept graduates from our program. Our therapy residency program can be viewed here and our diagnostic residency program can be viewed here.

  • Prepares graduates to compete successfully in the national medical physics residency match program.

  • Enjoys a 98% acceptance rate of graduates into residencies since 2013.

  • Extensive, national network of UK graduates. Included among them are three past presidents of the AAPM as well as numerous other professionals who are active in the medical physics field.


A Clinical Setting Preparing You for Your Future

Our therapeutic and diagnostic programs are unique in small size, individual mentoring and their focus on hands-on learning in the clinical setting. Our program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP) and is one of the premier clinical medical physics programs in North America. Our program is particularly well-known and admired for its hands-on student training. Our graduates do very well on certification examinations offered by the American Board of Radiology, and historically have been very successful at finding great careers. We are pleased to speak with prospective students or with those who simply want to know more about medical physics. Below, please find additional specific information about our program.

  • The University of Kentucky offers a clinically-oriented terminal master's degree and a doctoral degree in radiation sciences. In addition, we offer CAMPEP-accredited residency programs in both radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging physics that preferentially accepts graduates of our programs.

  • Currently, professionals wishing to sit for the American Board of Radiology examination must present evidence of being enrolled in and/or having graduated from a CAMPEP-accredited residency program.

  • Because of UK's clinical practicum training, our students compete well against graduates of other programs that provide less clinical training. If you decide to come visit us, you will see first-hand the kind of training our students get, and have a chance to talk with them.  

  • All of the accredited medical physics programs have large applicant pools. We do not have TA or RA support available for MS students, but assistantships may be available for PhD students.

  • Prospective students applying from certain southeastern states are eligible for Academic Common Market status to this program, which means that, for tuition purposes, the student is treated as an in-state resident. The states which participate in the Academic Common Market include Delaware, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Other southeastern states NOT having medical physics programs of their own at state-supported schools, can be added to this list upon appropriate application by the student.

  • Our graduates do very well on the American Board of Radiology certification exams.

  • If you are interested in applying we recommend you arrange to shadow a local or regional medical physicist for several hours one day, so as to obtain a first-hand view of the typical workday of a clinical therapeutic or diagnostic medical physicist.

  • We select the members of each year's class based on the strength of their academic credentials, their apparent dedication to the field of medical physics, and their apparent ability to work well in a team setting. Our classes typically bond closely together and can be seen in later years clustered together at annual meetings of the AAPM. Our ability to assess an applicant's "teamwork skills" is greatly enhanced by meeting applicants and chatting with them for a while. Therefore, we strongly encourage a visit to UK's program, which ideally will occur no later than mid-to-late January (the sooner, the better). Many programs begin offering admission by early February, so you are strongly encouraged to have all application materials in to your desired schools, and visits made, no later than the end of January.

For more information, contact:

Rachel Pendleton

Medical Physics Program Coordinator

800 Rose St
Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0293

Lee Johnson, PhD

Director of Graduate Studies

800 Rose St., Pavillion H, Room C25
Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0293

Wei Luo, PhD

Associate Director for International Collaborations

800 Rose St., Pavilion CC, Room CC065
Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0093