General information for physics graduate students
A. Degree requirements (informal summary of information in graduate catalog)
The definitive set of rules for graduate degrees is given in the Graduate School’s Brochure.
1. Master’s degree
- Plan A: Course work plus research thesis: 15 credits plus thesis (often preferred by students interested in an M.S. degree for work in industrial settings.) Nine credits of GRAD 5950 (Master’s Thesis Research.)
- Plan B: Course work: 24 credits (generally preferred for future Ph.D. candidates)
- Plan of Study after no more than 12 credits
- Final Exam
2. Ph.D. degree
- Students originally admitted to the master’s program must reapply for admission to the Ph.D. program. Students initially admitted to Ph.D. program can obtain M.S. degree when they satisfy necessary requirements.
- Flexible credits beyond master’s or equivalent; typically, 20+. Fifteen credits of GRAD 6950 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) must be included. Students are urged to consult the catalog of the Graduate School for exact statement of credit requirements for the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees.
- Satisfactory completion of Physics 5302 (Electrodynamics II) and Physics 5403 (Quantum Mechanics III) is required for the Ph.D. in Physics.
- Six credits per semester are required for full-time status if student has a graduate assistantship (full or half, teaching or research). Nine credits per semester are required for full-time status if student does not have an assistantship.
- Plan of Study
- General examination (details under C)
- Residency (2 consecutive semesters full-time)
- Dissertation Prospectus
- Final Examination (defense of dissertation)
B. Advisory Committee
1. Major Advisor
- A temporary advisor is assigned initially.
- The advisor can be changed with mutual agreement of the student and his/her new advisor.
- Students are strongly encouraged to approach a variety of potential advisors and to inquire about research programs and opportunities for participation.
2. Advisory Committee
- Consists of major advisor and at least two associate advisors.
- Approves plan of study and conducts general (oral part) and final examinations.
- Advisory committee can also be changed.
C. Preliminary ExaminationAs part of the PhD degree in Physics at UConn every student is required to pass the Preliminary Examinations (“prelims”), which have both written and oral exam components. These exams are intended to test the student on a broad foundation of physics knowledge. The rules governing the exams are as follows:
There are four written prelims given on separate days:
- Electrodynamics (at the level of PHYS 5301)
- Mechanics (at the level of PHYS 5201)
- Quantum Mechanics (at the level of PHYS 5401 and 5402)
- Statistical Mechanics (at the level of PHYS 5500)
- All four exams are given twice a year, as soon as is feasible before the beginning of each semester. The Quantum Mechanics exam will be 4 hours in duration; the other exams will be 3 hours.
- A student is required to pass all four written exams prior to the beginning of her sixth semester in the PhD program. A student is strongly encouraged to take the exams as soon as is consistent with his/her background in the material covered. There is to be no penalty if a student fails an exam in an early attempt.
- After having passed the written prelims, the student is admitted to the oral examination (“oral”). It should be held as soon as possible, and at most within 1 year from the time the student passes the written exams. An Oral Examination Committee consisting of the student’s Advisory Committee and two other faculty members approved by the Chair of the prelim committee conducts the oral. The recommended format for the oral is for the student to make a brief (20 minutes) presentation on an application of physics in contemporary science, engineering or technology, followed by an oral examination of basic physics concepts and contextual questions related to the student’s presentation. The student should discuss the topic of the oral in advance with his/her Principal Advisor.
- Preparation: Students are encouraged to study copies of old Prelim (General) exams on file in the Physics Department main office.
Core curriculum (preparation for general exams)
Normal sequence for students entering with Bachelor’s Degree
Semester: 1 2 3 4 Fall Spring Fall Spring Course: 5101 5401 5402 5302 5201 5301 5500 5403
- 5101: Methods of Theoretical Physics I
- 5201: Theoretical Mechanics I
- 5301: Electrodynamics I
- 5401 - 5402: Quantum Mechanics I & II
- 5500: Statistical Mechanics
Additional courses required for Ph.D.:
- 5302: Electrodynamics II
- 5403: Quantum Mechanics III
Optional entry-level courses; e.g.
- 6310: Relativity
- 6320: Nuclei and Particles
- 6140: Principles of Lasers
- 6201: Fundamentals of Solid State Physics
- Advanced courses offered as listed in Graduate Catalog.
E. Financial support
- Teaching assistantships (duties: 20 hours per week) (criteria: academic merit, progress towards degree, competence as teacher; English language qualification for international students). In order to be considered for TA support after the first year in the graduate program, international graduate students must obtain certification of English proficiency according to the UConn International Teaching Assistant Program). Only in exceptional circumstances will TA support be given beyond the first year if these tests have not been passed.
- Teaching Assistantships: 5 year limit. In applying for TA financial aid from the Physics Department beyond the first 5 years, students must document progress towards their degree and present a concrete proposal for a timely completion of their degree.
Fellowships (criteria for awards)
- Pre-doctoral (merit, progress)
- Special Fellowships for incoming students: Charles A. Reynolds Fellowship, Graduate School Outstanding Scholar Award, Graduate School Multicultural Scholar Award
- Summer (progress, studying for general exams)
- Dissertation (approved prospectus; once only; students should apply as early as possible).
- Time limit: No predoctoral fellowship support after 6 years; summer fellowships generally for beginning students preparing for written part of General Examination.
- Travel: After passing general examinations, students receive a $1000 travel grant account from the Graduate School.
- Research assistantships on funded projects (obtained from Principal Investigators)
Levels of compensation - these pay levels take effect in the
semester immediately following the student’s new academic
- Beginning student with B.S.
- M.S. or equivalent (24 credits)
- Passed general exams
F. Colloquia, Special Lecture Series and Seminars
Distinguished Lecture Series
- Henry Katzenstein Distinguished Lecture
- Charles A. Reynolds Distinguished Lecture
- Norman Hascoe Distinguished Lectures
- Edward Pollack Memorial Lecture
Attendance at the Colloquium and at the Distinguished Lecture Series is expected of all graduate students.
- Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) Physics
- Condensed Matter (CM) Physics
- Optical Sciences
- Particle, Astroparticle and Nuclei (PAN) Seminar (Theory and Experiment)
- Others as they are organized
Attendance at seminars in students’ research specialty expected.
- Safety course (Fall semester)
- Safety exam (required of all grad students)
Shop course (once a year)
- Required for use of shop
- Recommended for all aspiring experimentalists
All new graduate students (MS and PhD) are required to attend the computer information workshop and orientation on computer use and security at the beginning of their first semester.