Program Requirements

Graduate Student 5 year timeline, all the information is conveyed in the following text.


Eight graduate courses are required for all Ph.D. and M.S. candidates. The required courses include six core courses (210, 212, 214, 215, 216, 219) and two electives that students choose in consultation with their faculty adviser. All students are required to take 205, Introduction to Research, and attend the Department's weekly colloquium (292). 205 and 292 do not fulfill the elective requirement, but are useful opportunities to learn about and engage with current research. Students are allowed to fulfill their elective requirements with appropriate courses outside the Department (provided they are approved by their adviser), and are allowed to take more than two electives. The student-to-faculty ratio is low so that M.S. and Ph.D. students can work closely with faculty and pursue programs that fit their individual needs. 

Written Qualification Exams

In the first two years as a Ph.D student, students will take written qualification exams in Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Math Methods, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics. After passing a written qualifying examination, Ph.D. students pursue independent research leading to an oral examination ("Advancement to Candidacy") and completion of a doctoral dissertation.

Master's Degree

Students may obtain a master’s degree through course work and submission of an approved thesis. The M.S. thesis may be waived by passing four sections of the written Ph.D. qualifying examination. Master’s candidates are encouraged to write a research thesis and may do so in any of the research fields in the program, thereby developing laboratory and computational skills in areas such as electronics design, computer simulation and visualization, cryogenics, X-ray scattering, complex novel materials and devices, or materials science.

Oral Qualification Exam

In order to advance to doctoral candidacy students must successfully pass their Oral Qualification Examination.  Students create a three person faculty committee, including one faculty member outside of the Physics Department.  They then present their research to this committee, field questions, and demonstrate their mastery of the material. Upon successful completion of the Oral Qualification Examiantion students are admitted to doctoral candidacy and can begin to register for dissertation hours.  

Dissertation Research & Defense

Doctoral candidates work closely with their faculty advisor while completing the research and writing necessary to complete their PhD dissertation.  Whereupon the faculty advisor and the dissertation reading committee agree that the doctoral candidate has completed work worthy of awarding a Ph.D. in Physics, the student defends the dissertation and graduates.