Chair's Challenge Fund

The UC San Diego Physics "Chair's Challenge" was established to support educational excellence and training for current physics students: young people who will go on to careers in industry, academia, and government. Students can apply for funds to support travel, presenting, and networking opportunities at symposia and conferences both at home and abroad. 

For consideration, please complete application hereAn application must be submitted and approved prior to travel date. Requests for funding after the trip has begun or been completed will not be considered. If you have questions about the department procedures, please contact Jasmyn Wuerthwein.

You can learn more about the Chair's Challenge fund here


Physics graduate students are typically supported during the first year or two of their graduate career as Teaching Assistants (TAs), and subsequently as Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs). You can learn more about our Graduate Program Financial Support Information here.

High-achieving students are also eligible for a variety of merit-based awards and non-employment financial support. Those administered by the Department of Physics are:

In memory and recognition of Dilip K. Bhadra – one of the first graduate students at UC San Diego in the Department of Physics – an endowed fund was established by Marsha Penner (BA '68, '72) to provide an annual award to a student in physics. The Dilip K. Bhadra Ph.D. '65 Graduate Fellowship in Theoretical Physics will be used by the Department of Physics to provide fellowship support for the benefit of graduate students specializing in theoretical physics at UC San Diego.
Detailed Information: Bhadra Fellowship

Inamori Fellowships are awarded annually to one or two graduate students who are expected to contribute to the future of humanity through a balance of scientific progress and the human spirit.
Detailed Information: Inamori Fellowship

Funded by the family and friends of Dr. Harold K. Ticho, this annual award recognizes an outstanding incoming graduate student for past scholastic accomplishments and promise for further excellent work in physics.
Detailed Information: Harold K. Ticho Award

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellowship is presented annually to an entering graduate student that has shown exceptional academics, research, and strong community engagement in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The award is named after the brilliant physicist and UC San Diego founding faculty member Professor Maria Goeppert Mayer. Mayer was a distinguished physicist whose legacy includes developing the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei, an achievement she was later honored for when she received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1963.



The John Holmes Malmberg Prize is presented annually at commencement to a graduating physics student who is recognized for potential for a career in physics and a measure of experimental inquisitiveness. This prize was established in 1993 in memory of Professor Malmberg who pioneered the use of nonneutral plasmas for sophisticated tests of plasma equilibrium, wave, and transport effects. He was an involved teacher of undergraduate and graduate students and was active in departmental and campus affairs.

Graduating students are nominated by Department faculty and awards are presented at the Departmental graduation ceremony in June.

The Shaoyeh Ma Foundation and the Department of Physics presents the Shang-keng Ma Memorial Award at commencement each year to a graduating physics student who has shown exceptional ability and promise during their UC San Diego undergraduate years. The award was established in 1984 to commemorate the contributions of Professor Ma to the UC San Diego Department of Physics and to the field of theoretical condensed matter physics. The Shaoyeh Ma Foundation endowed this award in 2016 in honor of Shang-keng Ma.

Graduating students are nominated by Department faculty and awards are presented at the Departmental graduation ceremony in June.


Financial Aid

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office provides information and support to students, parents, veterans, and their families, striving to ensure all admitted students have adequate financial aid resources available to attend UC San Diego.


General Campus Grant Funding

Please see the General Campus Grant Funding for information on academic funding opportunities beyond the department.


Giving to UC San Diego Physics

Student fellowships such as those listed above are essential components of our ability to recruit and retain the exceptional undergraduate and graduate students who will become the leaders, innovators, and educators of tomorrow. Your gift--of any size--will help. To explore options for investing in the future of physics at UCSD, please see Giving to Physics.