# PhD in Physics

## Program Requirements and Policies

- Graduate TA should register on SIS for PHY 405 (counting as 3 credits); Graduate RA should register on SIS for PHY 406 (counting as 3 credits).
- Students who are working on a thesis or dissertation project for their doctoral degree should also register for PHY 502 FT (Doctoral Degree Continuation) in each semester.

### I. Proficiency in four core fields

- Classical mechanics
- Classical electromagnetism
- Statistical mechanics
- Quantum mechanics

**Students can demonstrate proficiency through:**

- passing the relevant course(s) with final grades or average final grades of A- (3.67) or better as described below:
- An average combined final grade of A- or better in the following three courses meets the proficiency requirement for both classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism:
- PHY 131: Advanced Classical Mechanics
- PHY 145: Classical Electromagnetic Theory I
- PHY 146: Classical Electromagnetic Theory II

- An average combined final grade of A- (3.67) or better in in the following three courses meets the proficiency requirement for both statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics:
- PHY 153: Statistical Mechanics
- PHY 163: Quantum Theory I
- PHY 164: Quantum Theory II

- A final grade of A- or better in PHY 131: Advanced Classical Mechanics meets the proficiency requirement for classical mechanics.
- An average combined final grade of A- or better in PHY 145: Classical Electromagnetic Theory I and PHY 146: Classical Electromagnetic Theory II meets the proficiency requirement for classical electromagnetism.
- A final grade of A- or better in PHY 153: Statistical Mechanics meets the proficiency requirement for statistical mechanics.
- An average combined final grade of A- or better in PHY 163: Quantum Theory I and PHY 146: Quantum Theory II meets the proficiency requirement for quantum mechanics.

- An average combined final grade of A- or better in the following three courses meets the proficiency requirement for both classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism:
- Passing a written qualifying exam in the subject(s).

Assessment policy for proficiency in the core courses for first year students

### II. At least one course from any two of the following specialized fields

- Astronomy/Astrophysics
- AST 121: Galactic Astronomy
- AST 122: Extragalactic Astronomy
- Any graduate level courses, including Special Topics courses, in Astronomy/Astrophysics

- Condensed Matter Physics
- PHY 173: Solid State Physics I
- PHY 174: Solid State Physics II
- Any graduate level courses, including Special Topics courses, in Condensed Matter Physics

- Particle Physics
- PHY 183: Particle Physics I
- PHY 184: Particle Physics II
- Any graduate level courses, including Special Topics courses, in Particle Physics

- General Relativity and Cosmology
- PHY 167: General Relativity
- PHY 268: Cosmology
- Any graduate level courses, including Special Topics courses, in General Relativity and Cosmology

- Advanced Quantum Mechanics
- PHY 263: Advanced Quantum Mechanics
- Any graduate level courses, including Special Topics courses, in Quantum Mechanics or Quantum Information

### III. Oral qualifying examination

By the end of the third year, the student must complete an oral qualifying examination in his/her chosen specialized field. The purpose of the oral qualifying examination is threefold:

- to provide the student with an opportunity to apply his/her fundamental knowledge of physics to a specific topic in his/her field of interest;
- to evaluate the student's ability to carry that skill forward into his/her dissertation research, and
- to provide practice in the presentation of scientific material.

The topic should be selected by the student in consultation with his/her research advisor, in order best to advance that student's progress. It could be a review of research relevant to the student's intended research project, a proposal for a possible research topic, or another topic in the general area of the student's research, but not directly related to that research. It should be sufficiently well defined that the student can achieve substantial mastery and depth of understanding in a period of 4-6 weeks. In general, depth is more important than breadth.

The student shall prepare and deliver a public presentation of 30-45 minutes duration, with the expectation that during that period the audience and guidance committee will freely ask questions. The form of the presentation will be determined by the student's advisor and guidance committee, but regardless of the format, the student must be prepared to depart from the prepared material to answer questions.

Following the presentation and an open question period, the audience will be asked to leave, and the student's guidance committee will pose additional questions. While some questions will be directly related to the topic of the presentation, others will probe fundamental physics underlying or related to the topic. The student's ability to respond appropriately, exhibiting both understanding of the relevant physics and the ability to apply it to the topic at hand, is at least as important as the prepared presentation.

While the primary function of the examination is educational rather than evaluative, if the guidance committee does not find the student's performance to be satisfactory, it may:

- Fail the student, resulting in his/her administrative withdrawal from the doctoral program;
- Require the student to submit to another oral examination covering the same or different material;
- Require other remedial work, which may include preparing and presenting a written or oral explanation of some topic, or such other steps as the committee deems appropriate.

In cases (2) and (3), the requirement must be completed successfully within two months after the original examination, but no later than the beginning of the student's fourth year. In no case will the student receive a third opportunity to fulfill the requirement.

### IV. Independent research

After satisfactory performance on the oral qualifying exam, the candidate undertakes a program of independent research under the guidance of their research advisor, culminating in the preparation and defense of a doctoral dissertation. Students must register for one credit of PHY 0297: Graduate Research and one credit of PHY 0298: Graduate Research in their final two semesters of the program.