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Degree Requirements: Ph.D. in Physics

Ph.D. in Physics

To receive the Ph.D. in Physics a student must:

1. Pass the Qualifying Examination (see Sec. V) on undergraduate Physics at the 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 approved by 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 their coursework and satisfy the other Graduate school requirements concerning grades. The following courses must be completed for the Ph.D. in physics, 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)
Quantum Mechanics II, PHY 852 (Spring)
Electrodynamics I, PHY 841 (Spring)
Electrodynamics II, PHY 842 (Fall)

3. Satisfy the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Requirement which in PA is fulfilled through a series of Subject Exams (see Sec. VI). The requirement must be completed by the end of the first semester of the third year of a student's Ph.D. program. A student will be given two attempts at each of the parts of this requirement.

4. In addition to the basic courses listed above, the student's Ph.D. Guidance Committee may prescribe advanced courses, in a consultation with the student and the student's research advisor. These courses will be principally from the student's area of research specialty. In addition at least two two-credit courses (or regular courses) outside of the student's specialty are recommended. This breadth requirement may also be satisfied by courses taken at other universities.

5. Form a Ph.D. Guidance Committee (see Sections VII and VIII) no later than six months after fulfilling the Comprehensive Exam Requirement. The Guidance Committee must meet with the student at least once every year. Prior to the formation of their Guidance Committee the students are mentored by the Director of Graduate Studies and by the Graduate Advising Committee. Each interest group also has two faculty advisors.

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 prior TA work at other universities. In order to be a TA international students who are not native English speakers must pass the SPEAK test at the appropriate level (see Sec. XII)

10. Students in the Virtual University VUBeam Ph.D. program are exempt from enrolling in the core courses mentioned in (2) at MSU and acquire the corresponding knowledge through equivalent studies and courses at local universities. They also do not have to satisfy the requirement (9). All other requirements, in particular concerning the qualifier and the subject exams covering the core courses, hold unchanged. Written exams can be administered by mutually agreeable local proctors upon prior arrangements with the Director of Graduate Studies. The final student thesis defense must be at MSU.