A. Advisors

A member of the Department’s Graduate Committee will advise every graduate student until a Ph.D. supervisory committee is formed. At that time, the thesis or dissertation supervisor becomes the student's advisor. Students are, of course, encouraged to seek advice from any member of the faculty at any time.

B. Evaluation of Student Progress

Students are expected to make timely progress towards their degree objective. Each student will be informed periodically by letters from the Graduate Committee and by their advisors of the faculty's evaluation of their progress. Some issues that are considered by the faculty when evaluating a student's progress are:

1. Is the student taking a full load of substantive courses relevant to his/her degree?

2. Is the student's grade point average (over all required graduate courses) B or better?

3. Does the student show interest in current research through attendance at colloquia and seminars and discussions with faculty members?

4. Has the student started his or her research training at the appropriate time?

C. Grades and the Honor System

Students seeking a Ph.D. are required to have a "B" average (i.e., a GPA of at least 3.00) in the courses taken to satisfy the degree requirement. No special seminar or research course grades will be included in the calculation of this grade average. In some graduate courses a grade of "P" will be given to indicate passing work. It is important to understand that in all 900-level courses, a grade less than a C is considered to be failing; in 800-level courses, a passing grade is B or better unless there is no 300- or 400-level equivalent in which case the passing grade is C. Students receiving grades of D or worse, or those who have failed more than one course in a given semester will be put on academic probation. A student put on academic probation for these reasons who fails to significantly improve his or her grades during the next semester will likely be dismissed from the program.  Students with a cumulative GPA less than 2.50 will be put on academic probation.  If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.50 in the next semester, they will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

If a student fails a required course, he or she must retake it to remain in the program, but no course may be taken more than twice. Cumulative grade point averages will be based on the highest grade a student receives in a given course.  Required courses may not be taken on a Pass/Fail basis.

In general, students should select a research group to join by the middle of the Spring Semester of their first year; and, if possible, be an RA during the summer in that group after the first academic year. It is important for the student to realize that, until they have finished their required course work, their first priority is, in fact, coursework, not research.

Students are expected to abide by the honor system for examinations and, as specified, for other assignments. If, for example, an instructor gives a take-home or other examination and a student obtains assistance on the examination from written or verbal sources not explicitly approved by the instructor, the student is in violation of the University's Code of Conduct. (For details see The Student Code of Conduct in the UNL Graduate Studies Bulletin; see also Section H below, and Appendix A of this document.)

D.  Attending Colloquia and Seminars

All graduate students are strongly encouraged to attend ColloquiumDepartmental Colloquia are an important part of graduate student education and help to provide students with knowledge of a broad range of topics in physics and astronomy. Colloquium speakers are specifically told that graduate students are a primary audience in Colloquium. As your research interests develop, you are encouraged to attend Seminars, which are more technical talks in specific subfields.

Departmental Colloquia take place on most Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters, and are generally scheduled at 4:00 p.m. in room 136 Jorgensen Hall.  Free refreshments will be available in the vending machine area from 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

E.  Commencing Research

Physics 998, a one-credit course required of all graduate students during their first fall semester in residence, is designed to introduce students to research in the Department. It comprises 10 or more lectures by our faculty on their research programs. This course must be taken during the first semester of a student’s residency unless permission to take it in the second year is granted by the Graduate Committee.

Students are also encouraged to register for non-thesis research. A brief summary of the research interests of the faculty is presented on the Physics and Astronomy website, in the Department booklet entitled Graduate Studies and Research, and in the Department's listing in The American Institute of Physics' annual book entitled Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy, and Related Fields. The latter two are available in the Department office.

F.  Registration

Graduate students are expected to register during early registration. If there is some reason why registration cannot be accomplished at that time, the Department office should be notified.

G. Policy for Withdrawals

Students may not withdraw from courses required for the graduate degree they are pursuing without explicit, written permission from the graduate committee.  


We follow the Academic Calendar (http://registrar.unl.edu/academic-calendar) to define the deadlines for the “early” and “late” withdrawals. The early withdrawal deadline is found in the Academic Calendar as “Last day to file a drop to remove course from student’s record.” The late withdrawal deadline is found as “Last day to withdraw from one or more courses for the term.”

The consequences of a withdrawal are:

  • On or before the early withdrawal deadline:
    Effect of early withdrawal: The course has not been taken, and no grade will be recorded.
  • On or before the late withdrawal deadline:
    Effect of late withdrawal: The course has been taken, and a grade of “W” will be recorded. This “W” will be disregarded in GPA calculations. Required courses may only be taken twice; late withdrawal counts as one of the two attempts.  
  • After the late withdrawal deadline:
    No withdrawal is allowed.

H. Distribution of M.S. and Ph.D. Theses and Thesis Abstracts

Two unbound copies of each thesis should be given to Love Library. Graduate students and/or their advisors are also asked to distribute to faculty and other graduate students a copy of the M.S. or Ph.D. Thesis Abstract to better inform the faculty of student progress and to acquaint graduate students with the research being carried out in the Department.

I.  Academic Dishonesty

Graduate students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy historically have displayed a high level of integrity when carrying out classroom assignments and when working on examinations or thesis research. The purpose of the discussion here is to make sure that students are fully informed of faculty expectations in this regard. A fairly complete discussion of what may constitute academic dishonesty and the possible penalties for such dishonesty may be found in the Graduate Studies Bulletin issued by the Graduate College of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. This section of the Graduate Student Handbook summarizes for graduate students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy some of the main points made in the Graduate Studies Bulletin regarding academic dishonesty and clarifies some issues regarding penalties for engaging in academic dishonesty.

Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty shall be subject to both academic and disciplinary sanctions. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following:
  1. Cheating. Copying or attempting to copy from an academic test, examination, or assigned work of another student; using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices for any academic test or assignment.
  2. Fabrication and Falsification. Falsifying or fabricating any information or citation in any academic exercise, assignment, or examination. Falsification is the alteration of information, while fabrication is the invention or counterfeiting of information.
  3. Plagiarism. Presenting the work of another as one's own (i.e., without proper acknowledgement of the source) and submitting examinations, theses, reports, or other academic work in whole or in part as one's own when such work has been prepared by another person or copied from another person.
  4. Abuse of Academic Materials. Destroying, defacing, stealing, or making inaccessible library or other academic resource material.
  5. Complicity in Academic Dishonesty. Helping or attempting to help another student to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
  6. Falsifying Grade Reports. Changing or destroying grades, scores or markings on an examination or in an instructor's records.
  7. Misrepresentation to Avoid Academic Work. Fabricating an excuse such as illness, injury, accident, etc., in order to avoid or delay timely submission of academic work or to avoid or delay the taking of an examination.

For a more complete description of what may constitute academic dishonesty, the student is referred to the current Graduate Studies Bulletin. Penalties for academic dishonesty are discussed in Appendix A.