Graduate Program at a Glance

Physics & Astronomy Graduate Program Summary

The requirements for the Ph.D. are comprised of the following five components:

Coursework. The standard curriculum consists of classical mechanics, mathematical methods, quantum mechanics (I/II), electrodynamics (I/II), and statistical mechanics. In addition, students are required to take five advanced electives.

Teaching. As part of their career training, graduate students are expected to participate in the Departmental teaching program for one semester.

Qualifying Exam. The qualifying exam is offered twice per year and covers undergraduate and graduate level physics. The exam is divided into three sections (classical and statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and electrodynamics), which are offered on consecutive days. Astrophysics students must also pass one additional section on astrophysics.

Specialist Exam. The specialist exam consists of a written paper and an oral presentation on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the student’s committee. The written portion consists of a critical review of the subject to be discussed in the oral portion of the specialist exam. The qualifying exam must be passed before attempting the specialist exam.

Thesis Research. Each graduate student is expected to find a research advisor typically as early as possible (second or third semester). The research advisor works closely with the student, and usually becomes the student’s thesis supervisor.