Ph.D. Requirements

Our graduate program is designed to solidify your command of the concepts and methods of the discipline through course work and research. You will participate in state-of-the-art research early on, work closely with a faculty member, and gain personal research experience and a deep understanding of a particular subfield. Your education culminates in the completion of a Ph.D. dissertation based on an original piece of research.

Requirements

Students who enter the graduate program have to complete the following milestones before they become eligible for the Ph.D. degree:

  • Assessment Exams (to assess the preparation for graduate coursework)
  • Coursework (usually in the first 2 years). Each graduate student usually completes the following 7 core graduate level courses and 6 credits of elective coursework within the first 3 semesters:
    • PHYSICS 760: Mathematical Methods of Physics
    • PHYSICS 761: Classical Mechanics
    • PHYSICS 762: Electrodynamics
    • PHYSICS 763: Statistical Mechanics
    • PHYSICS 764: Quantum Mechanics
    • PHYSICS 765: Graduate Advanced Physics
    • PHYSICS 766S: Physics Research Seminars
    • In addition to the core courses students are required to take 6 credits of electives. These can be chosen from any combination of of regular courses (3 credits) or mini courses (1 credit) offered by the department at various times.
  • English Examination Requirements (for non-English speaking students in the first two years)
  • Annual reporting — required for each student beyond the first year, to be submitted before March 31
  • Research talks — present at least one talk each year
  • Preliminary Exam (any time before the end of the sixth semester)
  • Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) training (any time, total of 12 credits)
  • Dissertation and Defense (final milestone)

Electives

  • Students must complete at least 6 units of graduate physics elective courses. (Mini-courses carry one unit). These graduate/curriculum2010/courses can be delayed from the times indicated in the tables above if the Director of Graduate Studies or the student's advisor approves.
  • Specific research groups may have written policies of courses students should take if they intend to work in their group.

A single course may be used to satisfy both of the above conditions.

Typical Degree Timeline

  • First Academic Year: Most students will work as a TA for the nine-month academic year. First-year graduate TAs are assigned duties of approximately 12–15 hours per week, normally assisting with the general undergraduate physics courses.
  • First Summer: Most students will work as an RA for the three-month academic year.
  • Second Academic Year: Most students resume their teaching assistantships in their second academic year, however sometimes a professor will recruit a student to work on a research project with him/her.
  • Second Summer and Beyond: Most students will be working with a research group and embark on their dissertation research project.

The normal course sequence is: (Each course carries 3 credit units unless otherwise noted.)

Sequence A
1st year 2nd year
Fall Semester Spring Semester Fall Semester
PHYSICS 760: Mathematical Methods of Physics PHYSICS 762: Electrodynamics PHYSICS 765: Graduate Advanced Physics
PHYSICS 761: Classical Mechanics PHYSICS 764: Quantum Mechanics Elective
PHYSICS 763: Statistical Mechanics Elective  
PHYSICS 766S: Physics Research Seminar (1 unit)    

or

Sequence B
1st year 2nd year
Fall Semester Spring Semester Fall Semester
PHYSICS 760: Mathematical Methods of Physics PHYSICS 762: Electrodynamics PHYSICS 765: Graduate Advanced Physics
PHYSICS 761: Classical Mechanics PHYSICS 764: Quantum Mechanics PHYSICS 763: Statistical Mechanics
[Intermediate course] Elective Elective
PHYSICS 766S: Physics Research Seminar (1 unit)    

The PHYSICS 761: Classical Mechanics course could be delayed to the second year in special circumstances.

Placeout Exams

Students who have already mastered the material in one or more of the core graduate courses may place out of the course by taking a place-out examination. In order to do so, the student should contact the DGS and the core course instructor offering the course and request for such an examination well before the course is offered. The details are then worked out on a case by case basis. It is important to note that to pass a place-out examination the student needs to show mastery of the course material at least at the 75th percentile level.