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Degree Requirements: Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physics

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physics

Many topical research areas lie at the boundary between physics and another discipline. Examples include biological physics, quantum optics and nuclear chemistry. Students working in these areas will receive a Ph.D. in Physics but may request to have their Ph.D. subject exam and course requirements modified in order to accommodate an increased course load in other disciplines. The PA department has the option of an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in which the student completes at most 120% of the normal required course load (including courses outside physics). A specific agreement exists with the department of Biochemistry. The requirements for the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. are:

1. Pass the Qualifying Examination (see Section V) on undergraduate Physics at a Ph.D. level (grade of A) before the end of the student's first semester of the second year. A maximum of three tries is allowed on this exam. Alternatively, a student may qualify for the Ph.D. program by taking a sequence of undergraduate courses, based on discussions with the graduate advisory committee, and by achieving at least a 3.5 average on these courses, with no course grade below 3.0.

2. Complete a program of basic coursework. Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in coursework and satisfy the other graduate school grade requirements. The required courses for the physics component are (provided they have not been completed at another accredited graduate school):

Methods of Theoretical Physics, PHY 810 (Fall)
Classical Mechanics, PHY 820 (Fall)
Statistical Mechanics, PHY 831 (Fall)
Quantum Mechanics I, PHY 851 (Fall)
Electrodynamics I, PHY 841 (Spring)
Interdisciplinary PhD students must also complete at least 9 credits of graduate coursework outside of physics in areas relevant to their research project.

3. Satisfy the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam requirement (see Section VI) by the end of the first semester of the third year. A student will be given two attempts at each of the parts of this requirement. For the interdisciplinary program a student may satisfy this requirement by completing three instead of four subject exams (see Sec. VI).

4. In addition to these basic courses, the student's Ph.D. Guidance Committee may prescribe advanced courses, in a consultation with the student and the student's research advisor.

5. Form a Ph.D. Guidance Committee no later than six months after fulfilling the Comprehensive Exam Requirement. The Guidance Committee must meet with the student at least once every year. The makeup of the Guidance Committee for Interdisciplinary PhD students is described in Section VIII.

6. Write a dissertation on original research, followed by an oral examination based on the dissertation and related material. A student's research program is determined in consultation with the student's research advisor and guided by the student's Ph.D. Guidance Committee.

7. Register for a minimum of 24 credits of doctoral dissertation research (Physics 999).

8. The Department of Physics and Astronomy has no foreign language requirement.

9. The student should serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least one semester. This requirement may be satisfied by TA experience at other universities. In order to be a TA international students who are not native speakers of English must pass the SPEAK test at the appropriate level (see Sec. XII).