Graduate Learning Objectives

Doctor of Philosophy

  1. Deep understanding and proficiency in the fundamental fields of classical and quantum physics:
    • Classical Mechanics
    • Electricity and Magnetism
    • Quantum Mechanics
    • Statistical and Thermal Physics
  2. Deep understanding of a selected specialized area of physics or astrophysics, including the tools and techniques of research in the field.
  3. Familiarity with the fundamental phenomena, concepts and methods of at least one other area outside of the student's field of specialization.
  4. Ability to carry out independent, original research.
  5. Ability to communicate scientific ideas and results effectively, orally and in writing, to professional colleagues.
  6. Professional skills such as problem-solving, technical writing, collaborating and teaching.

Master of Science

  1. Ability to use advanced mathematics to model, describe and analyze physical phenomena.
  2. Ability to apply scientific concepts and principles.
  3. Deep understanding in fundamental areas of physics, including:
    • Classical Mechanics
    • Electricity and Magnetism
    • Quantum Mechanics
  4. Ability to carry out original research (if completing a master's thesis).
  5. Ability to communicate scientific ideas and results effectively, orally and in writing, to professional colleagues (if completing a master's thesis).

Academic Standing Review Procedures

Conforming to Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) policies on Academic Standing as written in the GSAS Graduate Student Handbook, before the start of each semester, the department director of graduate studies (DGS) reviews the academic standing for each graduate student in the department, by running a query on SIS flagging students who have one or more of the following: grade of "I", grade of "W", grade of "B-" or below, and "out of time to degree" (5 years for master students, 7 years of doctoral students). If a student is found to be in poor academic standing, the DGS and the student's advisory committee will meet to discuss the plan to return to good academic standing. Specifically, in the case of an Incomplete (I) grade, the student will be notified that all coursework must be completed before 6 weeks into the subsequent semester; a default grade will be recorded, which is the grade that will result if the coursework is not completed satisfactorily; a student may carry only one "I" grade on the transcript. The DGS will check that all work is completed and the "I" grade is resolved by six weeks into the subsequent semester. In the case of a grade below "B-", a remedy will be put into place (e.g., repeat the course; take an alternate course; access special help), and the student will be notified. In the case of one or more "W" grades, the DGS will determine the reason the student has withdrawn, and if necessary, consult with the advisor and/or student to determine a plan; a "W" grade does not mean the student is in poor academic standing. All students who have been previously flagged as not in good academic standing need to be reviewed by the DGS before the subsequent semester. If the student is still not in good academic standing, the student is referred to the GSAS Executive Committee for review. The DGS and the student's advisory committee will recommend an action, and the Executive Committee will determine the course of action. Possible outcomes might be: a) recommended withdrawal from the program; b) further departmental support; c) other. A letter will be sent from the Executive Committee to the student and the Academic Advisor and DGS will receive copies.

In addition to the aforementioned review, each year during the Fall semester, all graduate students in the Physics and Astronomy department complete a written "Progress Report" form in conjunction with their advisor. Both the advisor and student sign the form when it is complete. Then, the department faculty members meet as a group under the leadership of the DGS to review the progress of each individual student. If there are concerns about a student’s progress or performance, the faculty discuss an appropriate plan to help make sure they don’t come into violation of the Academic Standing Policy.