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Course Requirements

For the Ph.D. degree, there are no explicit credit requirements. However, students who enter the program without a Master's degree must complete 32 credit hours of coursework, thereby completing requirements for an M.S. degree, before they can begin work on their dissertation. Most students meet this requirement by following our typical course of study, though this can be modified depending on the background of the student. A few students with incomplete preparation, but otherwise promising records, begin their program with some advanced undergraduate courses.

The Qualifying exam tests whether or not the student has a Ph.D. level of understanding in the major areas of physics covered in the Master’s and undergraduate coursework.

After completing the Master's course requirements and passing the qualifying exams, the candidate should take at least two specialty courses including at least one elective course outside the student's dissertation research area and one specialty course inside the student's dissertation research area. The choice of elective and specialty courses should be made in consultation with the student's research advisor.

If a Ph.D. candidate receives a grade below B- in any of the non-specialty courses, he or she must either repeat it or demonstrate to the course instructor or to a special committee appointed by the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee knowledge of the subject matter equivalent to a B grade. The instructor will inform the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee in writing of the student involved and will, in due course, recommend final disposition to the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee. Students should complete any make-up requirements as soon as possible.