Typical Course of Graduate Study

The department offers a variety of courses as well as the opportunity for independent study and research. For a complete list of graduate courses, together with their descriptions, please consult the Arts & Sciences Graduate Catalog.

A faculty adviser helps each student select courses which are most suited to his or her interest and preparation. The program typically followed for the first two years of the graduate program is



PHYS 601 - Classical Mechanics

PHYS 603 - Mathematical Physics

PHYS 621 - Quantum Mechanics I

PHYS 651 - Teaching Physics

PHYS 685 - Colloquium


PHYS 610 - Classical Electricity and Magnetism I

PHYS 630 - Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics

PHYS 622 - Quantum Mechanics II

PHYS 652 - Teaching Physics

PHYS 685 - Colloquium


PHYS 611 - Classical Electricity and Magnetism II

PHYS 721 - Quantum Field Theory I

PHYS 651 - Teaching Physics / PHYS 695 - Research

PHYS 685 - Colloquium


YEAR 2 and beyond

PHYS 800 - Dissertation


Electives: At least one inside and at least one outside field of study. Suitable elective courses may numbered  at the 500, 600 or 700 course-level.

Regularly taught elective courses include:

Also Computer Science, Applied Science or Mathematics courses.

On the basis of their previous experience or individual reading, some students omit one or more of these courses and go directly into advanced work. A few students with incomplete preparation, but otherwise promising records, begin their program with some advanced undergraduate courses.

Recent examples of other special topics courses (taught as needed)
  • Accelerator Physics and Beam Dynamics
  • Advanced Classical Mechanics & Catastrophe Theory
  • Chaotic Dynamics
  • Electron Scattering at Medium and High Energies: Theory and Experiment
  • Introduction to Gauge Theories
  • Modern Optics and Lasers
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • Optical Spectroscopy and Lasers

There is a weekly general colloquium noted in our Events calendar. The speakers are visitors from other institutions and include distinguished physicists in a variety of fields. Numerous specialized seminars are also organized by the research groups of the department. Through listening to research presentations, reading journals, and talking to members of the department, students should choose a research area as rapidly as possible. It is very useful to start immediately to spend a few hours per week with one of the research groups, if only to develop one's interests. By the summer following the first academic year, each student should make at least a tentative choice of specialization and begin conducting research.