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Home > Academics > Graduate Program > Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

See the Graduate Student Handbook for further details.

Entering Ph.D. students are expected to enroll in Physics 256 (Instruction in Teaching for Graduate Students) fall and winter term, which is taken in addition to three regular course credits.

A student will be admitted as a Ph.D. candidate upon:

Physics students:

  1. Receiving credit for seven out of the following nine core courses: PHYS 76, PHYS 90 [formerly 91], PHYS 100, PHYS 101, PHYS 103-106, PHYS 109.
  2. Passing the departmental Qualifying Examination.
    Sample qualifying exam - 2006
    Sample qualifying exam - 2007
  3. Presenting a thesis proposal [Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Application] and successfully defending it before an appointed Ph.D. committee for certification.
  4. Passing a departmental review of the student's course record and preliminary research progress.
  5. Receiving credit for at least two terms of Supervised Undergraduate Teaching (PHYS 257) and PHYS 256.

Students must achieve thesis proposal certification by the end of the fall term of their fourth year, in order to remain in good standing. Students who successfully complete these requirements will be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy by the Department.

Astronomy students:

  1. Receiving credit for ASTR 74, ASTR 115, ASTR 116, ASTR 117, ASTR 118 and any one physics course numbered 61 or above, and any other courses required by the student's advisory committee. Receiving credit for at least six terms of graduate research.
  2. Passing a research exam at the end of their first and second years.
  3. Presenting a thesis proposal [Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Application] and successfully defending it before an appointed Ph.D. committee for certification.
  4. Passing a departmental review of the student’s course record and preliminary research progress.
  5. Receiving credit for at least two terms of Supervised Undergraduate Teaching (PHYS 257) and PHYS 256.

Students must achieve thesis proposal certification by the end of the fall term of their fourth year, in order to remain in good standing. Students who successfully complete these requirements will be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy by the Department.

Students are required to meet with their committee at least once per year between the time of their thesis proposal and their defense. The yearly progress report meeting can take whatever form the advisor deems appropriate (short presentation, informal discussion), but requires that the student, the advisor and the in-house members of the committee all be in attendance. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange each meeting and deliver a completed confirmation sheet within one week of the meeting. Confirmation sheets will be available from the department office and here on this website.

The candidate will receive the Ph.D. degree upon:

  1. Receiving degree credit for at least twelve graduate courses, exclusive of teaching courses. Physics students: Two of the twelve courses may be Graduate Research, and at least two terms of Graduate Research must be completed no later than the second summer in residence. Astronomy students: Six of the twelve courses may be Graduate Research, and at least six terms of Graduate Research must be completed no later than the second summer in residence.
  2. Receiving credit for at least two terms of Supervised Undergraduate Teaching (PHYS 257) and PHYS 256.
  3. Completing a dissertation of substantial significance and publishable quality.
  4. Successfully defending the dissertation before the Ph.D. Thesis Committee in a public forum.

It is expected that most students will receive the Ph.D. degree by the end of the fifth year of graduate study.