Physics (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy. Major in Physics.

General Ph.D. requirements apply. Correspondence concerning the student's specific goals is encouraged in the preliminary planning of the Ph.D. program.

Specific departmental course requirements are:

PHYS 501Seminar2
PHYS 521Advanced Mechanics3
PHYS 533Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 541Electromagnetic Theory I3
PHYS 542Electromagnetic TheoryII3
PHYS 550Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYS 551Quantum Mechanics II3
PHYS 571Mathematical Methods of Physics3
At least nine additional semester-hours of Physics courses at the 500 level 19
Total Hours32

A typical study plan would include 40 to 50 credits of course work at the 500 level in physics and about 30 credits in research and thesis.  The study plan also would include at least six units of upper-division or graduate course work outside of physics.  The nature and number of these additional units will depend upon the professional goals of the individual student.  In planning a program, the student should consult with the departmental Academic Standards Committee for approval of any particular choice of nonphysics course work. The Ph.D. degree in physics is primarily a recognition of ability and accomplishment in research.  the purpose of the course work is to provide the factual and theoretical background for research. Successful completion of course work is not in itself considered as completion of the major requirement for the degree.

All Ph.D. graduate students are required to enroll in PHYS 501 each semester while in residence.

No formal foreign language requirement exists for Ph.D. candidates; however in individual cases, depending on the research topic, a reading knowledge in one foreign language may be required by the thesis advisor.

A two-Part preliminary examination is required.  Part I is taken after the student has completed the courses required for the Ph.D. degree.  Full-time students must take this exam no later than 2 years after entering the Ph.D. program.  Students who have earned a masters degree in physics or wish to transfer credits to satisfy any of the departmental requirements (PHYS 521, PHYS 533, PHYS 541, PHYS 542, PHYS 550 Quantum Mechanics I, PHYS 551, or MATH 571 Mathematical Methods of Physics) may be required by the Academic Standards Committee to take the exam earlier.  The examination is written and covers all of general graduate-level physics as defined by the required courses for a Ph.D. degree.  Typically, it will be administered on two different days, with a time limit of approximately five hours for each day.  The results of the examination will be evaluated by the physics faculty.  If the preliminary examination, Part I, is failed, it may be repeated only once; the repeat examination must be taken within a period of not less than three months nor more than 14 months following the first attempt. 

Part II of the preliminary examination is set by the major professor of the Ph.D. student for a date within the second semester after Part I has been passed.  The student is required to explain the goals of his or her planned Ph.D. research to the thesis committee and show a general familiarity with the fields relevant for the research.  Part II is oral and would typically last for one hour.  The exam is to be announced to the physics faculty at least one week in advance.  All members of the physics faculty are permitted to attend and ask questions.  The student's committee certifies to the Graduate College the results of the preliminary examinations.  Upon passing, the student is advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  If Part II is failed, it may be repeated only once; the repeat examination must be taken within a period of not less than three months nor more than one year following the first attempt.

A final defense of the Ph.D. thesis is scheduled upon completion of the dissertation.  The candidate is required to defend his or her work and show a superior knowledge of the field in which the thesis research has been performed.  The defense is oral and would typically last for one hour.  The exam is to be announced to the physics faculty at least one week in advance.  All members of the physics faculty are permitted to attend and ask questions.  A recommendation of a majority of the student's graduate committee is necessary to pass the defense.  If the defense is failed, it may be repeated only once; the repeat defense must be taken within a period of not less than three months nor more than one year following the first attempt.