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You should have an undergraduate degree in physics or a closely related subject, with a minimum grade-point-average of B or 3.0 (A = best grade = 4.0). Your degree should include undergraduate courses in electromagnetism (level of Griffiths), classical mechanics (Marion or Taylor), thermal physics (Kittel), and quantum physics (Griffiths, Eisberg or Leighton). If your background is weak in any of these areas, we can arrange for you to spend part of your first year as a graduate student taking some of our advanced undergraduate classes.
You can earn a M.S. and/or a Ph.D. in physics. The M.S. usually takes 2 years, and the Ph.D. takes about three additional years beyond the M.S. The M.S. degree can be earned either through thesis or non-thesis options. Entering students who already have a M.S. degree from another institution can usually begin a Ph.D. program immediately.
Students who earn graduate degrees in Physics find employment in a variety of industries, in government laboratories, and in academia. Our graduates are presently employed by leading industries and universities in the U.S., and many of our foreign students have returned to their home countries to important academic positions.
As a graduate student entering with a Bachelor's degree, you will take 2 years of class work to prepare for Ph.D. thesis research. In the process, you will earn enough credits for a M.S. degree. During this period you will prepare for our comprehensive exam which is offered three times a year, and which must be passed before admission to Ph.D. candidacy. Our classes are small and informal which gives many opportunities for questions and to tailor each student's Ph.D. program to meet any special interests the students may have. Opportunities are offered to enhance professional preparation including a teaching seminar, a teaching apprentice program, and a seminar in the techniques of professional communication.
The most important part of any Ph.D. program is the research project, which forms the basis for the Ph.D. dissertation. Usually, active full time research begins in the third year, but there are many opportunities for part time or summer participation in research projects during the first two years. The research page provides an overview of the department's main research areas.
We offer teaching assistantships to first and second year students. Duties usually involve 15 hours per week of laboratory work and exam grading in our beginning physics classes. Beyond the second year, students are usually supported by research assistantships under the research contracts of the major professor or thesis advisor. All assistantships include a full waiver of tuition. Additional employment during the summer months is generally available.