Doctoral Degree

Graduate Program - Doctoral Degree Requirements

It is expected that students in the Ph.D. program be associated with a research advisor by the spring quarter of their first year.

A special seminar class PHYS288 is designed to familiarize the student with research activities of the faculty.

A student is recommended for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in Physics upon completion of the following requirements:

Comprehensive Examination

Satisfactory performance on the comprehensive examination, before the winter quarter of the student's second year is required. The examination is offered twice each academic year. For students starting in the fall quarter of 2010 or thereafter, the exam is offered for the first time in the middle of the Fall quarter of the second year and a make-up exam is offered at the end of the following fall quarter (about the first week in January). The examination consists of a six-hour written exam (two sessions) that covers topics in Classical Mechanics, Statistical and Thermal Physics; Electromagnetism and Quantum Mechanics at the graduate level for the physics track. For the astronomy track, Quantum Mechanics will be replaced by the first year astronomy classes. Based on the exam performance (written) the department recommends a pass at the Ph.D. level, a pass at the M.A./M.S. level, or a fail. The examination may be repeated only once following the initial attempt.


Satisfactory completion of the courses listed below. Each course must be passed with a grade of B- or better and the student must maintain an average for all courses of B or better.


Core Courses:

1A Physics Track

Phys 210A, 210B, 210C

Electromagnetic Theory

Phys 212A, 212B

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Phys 221A, 221B, 221C

Quantum Mechanics

Phys 205 Classical Mechanics

Phys 401

Professional Development in Physics and Astronomy

Phys 296 Summer Research in Physics and Astronomy
1B Astrophysics Track

Phys 210A, 210B, 210C

Electromagnetic Theory

Phys 212A

Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Phys 205 Classical Mechanics
Phys 214 Techniques of Observational Astrophysics
Phys 218 Fundamentals of Astrophysics
Phys 219 Cosmology and Galaxy Formation

Phys 401

Scientific Writing

Phys 288 Current Research Themes in Physics

In addition, at least three elective graduate lecture courses must be completed from the various tracks a-g. The program for each student must be approved by the graduate committee and by the student's research advisor. Such a program may entail more than the minimum number of courses, and may also involve a mixture of courses in addition to those listed below.

Elective Courses:

a.) Condensed Matter, Surface, Biophysics, and Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Phys 209A

Quantum Electronics


Nonlinear Optics


Advanced Topics in Quantum Optics

Phys 234 Physics of Nanoscale Systems
Phys 235 Spintronics and Nanoscale Magnetism

Phys 240A, 240B

Condensed Matter Physics

Phys 241A, 241B, 241C Advanced Statistical Physics and Field Theory

Phys 242

Physics at Surfaces and Interfaces

Phys 245 Atomic and Solid State Physics with Positrons
Phys 246 Biological Physics
Phys 260 Advanced Topics in Condensed Matter Physics
b.) Nuclear and Particle Physics

Phys 230A, 230B, 230C

Advanced Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Theory of Fields

Phys 224

Frontiers of Physics and Astrophysics

Phys 225A, 225B

Elementary Particles

Phys 262

Special Topics in High Energy Physics

c.) Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics
Phys 203 Statistical Astronomy
Phys 204 Advanced Galaxy Formation and Cosmology

Phys 208

General Relativity

Phys 211A

Radiative Processes in Astrophysics

Phys 211B

Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics

Phys 213 Astrophysics of the Interstellar Medium
Phys 216 Star Formation
Phys 217 Stellar Structure and Evolution
Phys 226 Cosmology
Phys 227 Particle Astrophysics
Phys 229 Theory of Dark Matter Halos and Galaxies
Phys 261 Special Topics in Astrophysics

Qualifying Oral Examination

Satisfactory performance on an oral examination in the general area of the student's proposed research.

This examination is conducted by a doctoral committee, charged with general supervision of the student's research. It is normally taken during the academic year following that in which the Comprehensive examination requirement has been successfully completed. A student who fails this examination on the first attempt may, at the discretion of the committee, be permitted to take it a second time. Only two attempts are allowed.

The student is recommended for the Ph.D. degree following their advancement to candidacy and completion of the following requirements:

Doctoral Thesis

Satisfactory completion of a dissertation containing a review of existing knowledge relevant to the candidate's original research, and the results of the candidate's original research. This research must be of sufficiently high quality to constitute a contribution to knowledge in the subject area.

Final Oral Examination

Satisfactory performance on a final oral examination conducted by the candidate's doctoral committee.

Normative Time to Degree: For students pursuing program 1A: 15 quarters for theoretical physics; 18 quarters for experimental physics; 17 quarters for specialization in environmental physics (theory); 20 quarters for specialization in environmental physics (exper-imental). For students pursuiing the astronomy program, 1B: 18 quarters