Typical Timeline

The average duration of our program up to graduation with a PhD degree is 5 to 6 years. The following is a typical timeline for the MS-level courses that are part of the program, and the subsequent graduate research activites.

Year 1

  • Fall Semester: Mechanics (Phy 420), Mathematical Methods of Physics (Phy 428) and one elective course.
  • Spring Semester: Quantum Mechanics I (Phy 369), Electricity and Magnetism I (Phy 421) and Statistical Mechanics (Phy 442).

Summer 1

  • Research project (Phy 491) during June-August.

Year 2

  • Fall Semester: Electricity and Magnetism II (Phy 422), Quantum Mechanics II (424), and one elective course. Many students go to group meetings in the research area they are considering for their dissertation work.
  • During winter break (mid-January): students take the Qualifier Exam.
  • Spring Semester: Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (Phy 364), breadth and elective courses. By this time students are expected to have formally chosen a research advisor, attend group meetings and start research if there is time.

Summer 2

  • Research project (Phy 492) during June-August

Year 3

  • Take specialized courses, as appropriate, do preliminary research, form a dissertation committee, and put together a research proposal. After a presentation of the proposal to the commitee, take the general exam and get admitted to Candidacy.

Year 4

  • Take specialized courses as appropriate and concentrate on research. An annual meeting with your dissertation committee is required.

Year 5

  • Complete the research, publish papers, complete and defend the dissertation.

Note: Students who enter the graduate program with a Master’s Degree, or equivalent course work, may be placed in an accelerated track. They may take the Qualifying Exam after the first semester, choose a research advisor the next semester, and start on research the next summer.