Jan 28, 2022  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics (PhD)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences

Requirements for the PhD Degree

Students may enter the PhD program after successfully completing an MS degree program, at the University of Delaware or elsewhere, or may be admitted directly to the PhD program directly after a Bachelors degree. To obtain a PhD, students will normally follow the course intensive regular track. Students entering the program with at least a U.S. Master of Science degree, or its equivalent, in Physics or a closely related field that are particularly well prepared may choose to follow the less coursework intensive fast track.

Regular Physics (PhD) Track Course Requirements:

Core Requirements:

Taking and passing, with an average grade of 3.0 or better, 30 credits of graded course work within the first five semesters after entering graduate school. Graded courses are those receiving a letter grade (A through F). Among 30 required credits,
students must take 5 core courses (15 credits total) and pass each of them with a grade of B- or higher. If a student fails to obtain a B- or higher grade for a core course, the particular course in question must be repeated once again and the student must acquire a passing grade of B- and above.


*Required by first year students. PHYS 600 , PHYS 601 , and PHYS 699  are evaluated as Pass/Fail, and therefore are not considered as graded and do not count into 30 credits of graded course work.

Field of Research Course Electives:

Finally, among 30 required credits students should select one 600-level and one 800-level specialized course of relevance to their intended field of research (6 credits total) from the following two clusters of courses.

Fast Track Physics (PhD) Course Requirements:

Students following the fast track must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. In consultation with and with approval from the Director of the Graduate Program, the student will identify four 3-credit 800-level classroom courses (12 credits total) to be taken in their first year in the graduate program. Each of these courses must be passed with a grade of B or better (not B-). Students may take additional courses.
  2. Students must take the Written Candidacy Exam on entering and pass it then, or by the beginning of the second semester in the graduate program, to remain on the fast track.

All second year students are required to take one credit course PHYS 699 - Physics and Astronomy Colloquium (1cr.)  (in both the Fall and the Spring semesters). All students in the Ph.D. program are required to complete 9 credits of doctoral dissertation (PHYS 969 ).

PhD Candidacy Examination

The written part of the candidacy exam: All students in the Ph.D. program must pass the written part of the Ph.D. candidacy exam before the beginning of their fourth semester in the graduate program.

If a student on the fast track has not passed the written part of the exam after one semester in the program, they will move to the regular track.

The exam will be given twice a year in late August and in late January/ early February. The exam will be graded as a whole and will consist of 4 sections, each with 4 problems. The sections of the exam and the textbook and associated material from which that section will be based are:

  • Classical mechanics-covering chapters 7-11 and 13-14 in J. R. Taylor, “Classical Mechanics.”
  • Electricity and Magnetism-covering all material in D. J. Griffiths, “Introduction to Electrodynamics,” 3rd edition.
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics-covering chapters 1-9 in W. Greiner, L. Neise and H. Stöcker, “Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics.”
  • Quantum Mechanics-covering chapters 1-8 in D. J. Griffiths, “Introduction to Quantum Mechanics,” 2nd edition.
  • Special relativity problems, if any, will only appear on the Electricity and Magnetism section of the exam.


The Oral Candidacy Examination (OCE)

The purpose of the Oral Candidacy Exam (OCE) is to show that the student has a clear research plan with a path to its completion, has a general understanding of the research topic and can put it in context in the broader field of research. Before the beginning of their sixth semester in the graduate program, a Ph.D. candidate must make an oral presentation to a committee consisting of the local members of the Ph.D. dissertation committee and two additional members appointed by the Director of the Graduate Program. A member of the OCE committee other than the dissertation adviser of the Ph.D. candidate will be appointed committee chair by the Director of the Graduate Program. A student who fails the OCE has one opportunity to retake the exam. This has to take place within 6 month of the original examination.

Regulations for students who change adviser after passing the OCE

Students who change dissertation adviser after having passed the OCE are required to give, within 6 months of changing adviser, a written progress report and an oral presentation to the Graduate Review Committee, who will make a funding recommendation based on their evaluation of the progress report and oral presentation.

PhD Thesis

Upon successful completion of a research program, the PhD candidate will write a dissertation showing originality of thought and scholarship, properly expressed in English. The dissertation is defended in an oral examination administered by the student’s dissertation committee.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences