Graduate Degree

Physics - Doctor of Philosophy

Physics - Doctor of Philosophy
Plan Code:
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Natural Science
Physics Astronomy

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.

College of Natural Science

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Graduate Study
Physics - Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.


For admission to the doctoral degree program in physics on regular status, the student must have:

  1. Completed physics and mathematics courses equivalent to those that are required for an undergraduate major in physics.

Evidence of some undergraduate or post graduate research experience is desirable.

Students who do not meet the requirements for admission to the program on regular status may be admitted on a provisional basis to remove deficiencies.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Physics

Students must:

1. pass the comprehensive examination requirement, which is fulfilled by passing a series of subject examinations (see item 2.) and an oral subject examination (see item 3.).
2. select three of the following courses, in coordination with an initial mentoring committee consisting of the graduate program director, an initial faculty advisor, and another faculty member with expertise in the research area of interest. These three courses will serve as the subject examination courses that count toward the comprehensive examination requirements.  The subject examination grade is determined by the higher of the course grade and the final examination grade. A student may demonstrate their ability in the material by scoring a 3.0 on the final examination in lieu of taking the course.
PHY 820 Classical Mechanics 3
PHY 831 Statistical Mechanics 3
PHY 841 Classical Electrodynamics I 3
PHY 851 Quantum Mechanics I 3
3. pass the oral subject examination which consists of a research presentation that is evaluated by the students' guidance committee based on a published rubric. A 3.5 or 4.0 grade constitutes a passing grade. The oral subject exam shall be held by the beginning of the third year after entering the program if the Subject Exam requirement is fulfilled by the end of the fall semester of the second year. If the Subject Exam requirement is fulfilled later than fall of the second year, the Guidance Committee should be formed no later than six months after that happens.
4. complete the following course with a grade of 3.0 if they have not taken an equivalent course previously or demonstrated that they acquired the necessary skills:
PHY 810 Methods of Theoretical Physics 3
Course equivalency is determined by the Graduate Program Director.
5. complete one of the courses listed under item 2. that was not selected as one of the three subject exam courses if the student's initial mentoring committee or guidance committee determines the background is required for the research.
PHY 842 Classical Electrodynamics II   3
PHY 852 Quantum Mechanics II   3
6. complete a minimum of 24 credits of PHY 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
7. submit a dissertation proposal or evaluation to the guidance committee based on the PHY 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
8. successfully defend the doctoral dissertation in a meeting with the guidance committee following a public presentation about the PHY 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
Concentration in Beam Physics. Students are exempt from enrolling in the core courses mentioned in item 2., 4., and 5. above, and acquire the corresponding knowledge through equivalent studies and courses at local universities. All other requirements must be met. Written examinations 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. 
Changes to, or a waiver for certain program elements of the above requirements are, within the requirements set by the University and the College of Natural Science, subject to the approval by the Graduate Program Director.