William and Mary

Degree Requirements

Teaching experience is a valuable ingredient of graduate study. Some teaching is required of all resident students.

Degree requirements are under continual review by the Departmental Graduate Committee, which consists of faculty members and at least one elected graduate student representative. It concerns itself with all aspects of graduate student life, including the general regulations and exceptions, arrangements for financial aid, and the academic progress of all students.

The detailed and formal statements of requirements are given in the Arts & Sciences Graduate Catalog.

Requirements for the Ph.D.

The candidate must complete a program of courses required by the Department. This program depends on the candidate’s preparation and special interests, but, in addition to the master’s level courses, will include: PHYS 611, 721, an additional semester of Colloquium, and either Teaching or Research.

The candidate must pass examinations that test familiarity with the principal fields of physics. Details of procedure will vary. It is required that the candidate pass the qualifying examination and demonstrate competence in several advanced topics courses. The candidate must perform research, which is an original and substantial contribution. The dissertation must be approved by a faculty committee and successfully defended in a public oral examination.

For the Ph.D. degree, there are no explicit credit requirements. However, the candidate must, in addition to passing the qualifying exam, demonstrate a mastery of the material in the first- and second-year courses, either by doing well in these courses or through individual examinations.

The heart of the Ph.D. program is the dissertation. Students typically begin apprenticeships in their chosen specialization during their second year and then start seriously into their research. The research must be a significant original contribution. A dissertation must be approved by the candidate's Ph.D. committee, and then must be defended successfully in a public oral examination.

It is impossible to give a rigorous time-table for completion of the Ph.D. Our experience has been that starting from the completion of the bachelor's degree, students usually require five and a half years to obtain a Ph.D.

PhD with concentration in computational science Physics PhD students with a dissertation emphasizing computational science and with sufficient course work can, upon completion of the degree, request to have the words “with a Concentration in Computational Science” appear on the student’s transcript/degree.

Requirements: Students must to satisfy the Physics Ph. D. degree requirements.  In addition, they are expected to take three classes focusing on aspects of computational science. These classes could be Physics Department offerings or those of other departments such Mathematics or Computer Science. The program of courses must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee and by the student’s thesis committee (as represented by their Annual Review Committee). In addition, the dissertation must contain a strong computational component such as development of new computational approaches and/or creative use of computational methods to obtain significant physics results. The thesis committee and the student’s advisor must certify to the Physics Graduate Studies Committee the thesis contains such computational component.