Overview
This page guides you through the departmental requirements for earning a Ph.D. degree; however, each student is responsible for knowing the requirements of his or her degree program as specified in the Graduate Studies Catalog, which are in addition to the requirements listed here. These requirements are not included in this discussion. The Catalog is available online, or a copy may be obtained from the Office of Graduate Studies, 301 Administration Building. Ph.D. guidelines, forms and deadlines are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
 Pass the Preliminary Exam on UndergraduateLevel Physics.
 Complete all 91x courses (excluding 918) with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
 Form a Supervisory Committee.
 File a Program of Studies approved by the supervisory committee.
 Pass the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination at least seven months (but not longer than three years) prior to the final oral examination on the dissertation.
 Complete a Ph.D. Dissertation, including an oral defense of the dissertation.
Preliminary Examination
A preliminary exam on undergraduatelevel physics must be passed. All students will take this exam as a placement exam prior to the first semester of study. Depending on the outcome, the graduate committee may recommend or require the student to take selected 800level courses before the corresponding 91x courses. The exam is offered twice a year: once before the beginning of the fall semester (August) and once after the spring semester ends (May). Students may take the exam up to three times and must pass before beginning their second academic year.
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Ph.D. Course Work
The required courses for every student seeking a Ph.D. degree are:
 PHYS 811: Methods in Theoretical Physics I
 PHYS 911: Classical Mechanics
 PHYS 912: Statistical Physics
 PHYS 913: Electromagnetic Theory I
 PHYS 914: Electromagnetic Theory II
 PHYS 916: Quantum Mechanics I
 PHYS 917: Quantum Mechanics II
 PHYS 918: Quantum Mechanics III
 PHYS 998: Special Topics in Current Research
Plus three of the following four introductory "survey" courses:
 PHYS 925: Introduction to Atomic and Molecular Physics
 PHYS 926: Introduction to Elementary Particle and Nuclear Physics
 PHYS 927: Introduction to Solid State Physics
 PHYS 928: Introduction to Plasma Physics
Plus at least one additional mathematics course, chosen in consultation with an adviser, from the following list:
 Math 814: Applied Linear Algebra (Matrix Theory)
 Math 822: Advanced Calculus
 Math 823: Introduction to Complex Variable Theory
 Math 824: Introduction to Partial Differential Equations
 Math 935 or 936: Advanced Methods of Applied Mathematics I or II
 PHYS 812 or 813: Methods in Theoretical Physics II or III
 Stat 880: Statistics and Applications
Students with little or no laboratory experience as undergraduates are urged to take Physics 231: Electrical and Electronic Circuits I and/or one of the Advanced Laboratory courses, Physics 841843.
We recommend that fully prepared students take courses in this order:
Program Timeline  First Semester  Second Semester 

First Year 


Second Year 


Note that in the lists above, courses are listed in the semester in which they are usually given. It may be necessary to wait until the third year to finish the Introductory Course (925, 926, 927, and 928) sequence. Normally 911, 912, 913, 914, 916, and 917 will be offered once each year, and Quantum Mechanics III (918) and the survey courses (925, 926, 927, and 928) will be offered at least once every two years. Students participating in research may register for one of the following: Physics 899 (Master's Thesis), Physics 996 (Research other than Thesis), and Physics 999 (Doctoral Dissertation).
All beginning graduate students, both M.S. and Ph.D., must take Physics 998: Special Topics in Current Research. This is a 1 credit hour course introducing students to the research activities in the department.
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Qualifying Procedure and Formation of the Supervisory Committee
A minimum GPA of 3.00 in the 91x courses (excluding Physics 918: Quantum Mechanics III) is required for Ph.D. candidacy.
Students may take required 91x courses no more than twice. As soon as a student has completed the required Ph.D. coursework, he/she should form a supervisory committee guiding his/her dissertation research. The committee should consist of at least four members including the student's research adviser and an outside representative.
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Program of Studies
A complete program of studies, approved by the supervisory committee, must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies. See the Graduate Secretary in the Main Office (208 JH) for assistance.
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Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination
A written comprehensive examination of each Ph.D. applicant is required by the Graduate College. The examination may also include an oral presentation and examination. This examination is administered by the student's supervisory committee and will normally be in the form of a written report based on approximately one week of intensive research on a subject approved by the Supervisory Committee. It is expected that this topic will be in the general area of the student's Ph.D. thesis (e.g., AMO, HEP, etc.) but will not be a simple extension of their Ph.D. research topic.
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Ph.D. Dissertation
The dissertation must be completed between seven months and three years following the passing of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam. An oral defense of the research is also required in addition to the written dissertation.
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