Physics

Doctoral Program (Ph.D.)

The Physics Ph.D. program provides students with opportunities to perform independent research in some of the most current and dynamic areas of physics. Students develop a solid and broad physics knowledge base in the first year through the core curriculum, departmental colloquia, and training.

Upper-level courses and departmental seminar series subsequently provide more specialized exposure. Armed with the core knowledge, doctoral students join a research group working in an area of particular interest. This research is performed in very close collaboration with one or more faculty whose interests span a wide range of physics fields.

Physics Track:

Sc.M. en route to Ph.D. - Eight total courses from among the Physics core group (PHYS2010, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140: techniques in experimental physics, classical theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics) and other 2000-level courses. Up to two research courses. Courses from outside the department might be substituted with the permission of the DGS.

Ph.D. - All core courses, four advanced courses, comprehensive examination, preliminary examination, faculty-supervised research, dissertation, and oral defense.

Astrophysics Track:         

Sc.M. en route to Ph.D. - Eight total courses from among the Astrophysics core group (PHYS2010, 2270, 2280: techniques in experimental physics, observational cosmology, theoretical cosmology), the Physics core group (classical theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics), and other 2000-level courses. Up to two research courses. Courses from outside the department might be substituted with the permission of the DGS.

Ph.D. - All core courses from the Astrophysics group, three courses from the Physics core group, four advanced courses, comprehensive examination, preliminary examination, faculty-supervised research, dissertation, and oral defense.

 

Applicants are expected to have a strong background in physics or closely related subjects at the undergraduate level. All applications are evaluated holistically to assess the applicant's preparation and potential for graduate coursework and independent research, which can be demonstrated in multiple ways.

Submitting General and Physics GRE scores is recommended (but not required), especially for non-traditional students (this includes applicants with a bachelor's degree outside of physics or applicants who have taken a long gap after completing their bachelor's degree).

Three recommendation letters from faculty or others acquainted with the applicant's academic and/or research qualifications are required.

If you have submitted an application and need to make changes or add to the application, do not send the materials to the Physics department. The department is unable to alter or add to your application. Contact the Graduate School staff for all changes.  

Ph.D. Program Milestones and Guideposts

Guidepost

  • Work toward joining a research group

Milestones

  • Pass 3 courses per semester if a TA or 4 courses per semester if a Fellow with at least 50% B's or better.
  • Physics Track students: Complete 6 core courses (PHYS 2010, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140).

  • Astrophysics Track students: Complete 3 core courses (PHYS 2010, 2270, 2280) and 3 courses from the Physics core (2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140).  Some years only one of 2270 or 2280 may be offered; the other will then need to be taken during the second year.

Guideposts

  • Begin research
  • Complete PHYS2010 (or other core courses) if not taken during Year 1
  • Complete at least 2 advanced courses

Milestones

  • Pass Comprehensive Exam
  • Complete 2nd Year Ethics Training
  • Identify prelim committee

Guideposts

  • Continue research
  • Complete remaining advanced courses

Milestone

  • Pass preliminary exam and advance to candidacy

Guidepost

  • Complete thesis research

Milestone

  • Write and defend thesis