I'm currently an undergraduate at a prestigious private university in the U.S. I'm majoring in Physics, Math, and Computer Science and currently am a junior. I've taken 5 graduate level courses so far (including Real Analysis and Algorithms) and have undergraduate experience working in a lab in a field unrelated to quantum computing (for which I'm in the process of writing a paper about). I've also taken a course in quantum computing, 2 semester of undergraduate quantum mechanics, 2 semesters of discrete math, and a course on complexity theory. I plan to take 2 semesters of grad quantum in my senior year as well as 2 semesters in mathematical logic.

I'm interested in going to graduate school for theoretical work in quantum computing and quantum information theory. I'm wondering if I should be aiming to apply to Computer Science, Math (Applied I would guess), or Physics departments if I want to do research in those fields.

  • 11
    Yes. All of the above. (Or perhaps some superposition of the above.)
    – JeffE
    Feb 15, 2015 at 23:24
  • 2
    If you have a very specific interest, you should think in terms of applying to professors rather than departments.
    – Thomas
    Jan 6, 2018 at 4:47
  • I am in almost exactly the same position at this point, to the letter. Out of curiosity, which programs or universities did you end up applying to @user73236?
    – Alekxos
    May 9, 2018 at 23:22

3 Answers 3


You should aim for whichever department has people working on the topic.

Quantum Computing is somewhat multidisciplinary, and not present in every university. So, before applying, check where are the quantum computing groups and follow them. Your background seems to be a good fit for either side.

By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if there was somewhere a department dedicated to quantum computing. Recently I saw a "department of glycoscience".

  • 1
    In our university, Quantum computing is under Electrical Engineering for example so looking for dedicated and active groups to apply is certainly the best approach.
    – o4tlulz
    Feb 15, 2015 at 21:51
  • Which GRE subject test would you suggest I take then if I end up applying to a variety of programs?
    – user73236
    Feb 15, 2015 at 22:35
  • 4
    I think it's better to decide the program you want to apply then decide which sGRE to take based on the requirement. If you're junior now I believe you have time to take more than one sGRE before application deadline if you have to do it.
    – user22080
    Feb 15, 2015 at 22:59
  1. Figure out which conferences (and/or journals) are strong in quantum computing (your quantum computing professor would be a good person to ask about this).
  2. Figure out which professors publish the most in those venues.
  3. Apply to wherever those professors are.

Good luck!


The general principle is: study each place you are considering applying, and look at the faculty in each of those departments to find where the faculty who work on quantum computing are affiliated with -- and then apply to that department.

You don't say what kind of research you want to do, but here are some guesses about where you're most likely to find folks. If you want to study algorithms, computer science departments are most likely where you will want to be. If you want to do experimental work (build experimental apparatus), a physics department is a good bet. Math departments are less likely to be a good fit. There will always be exceptions -- these are just some guidelines.

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