PhD Degree Requirements

As a graduate student entering with a bachelor’s degree, you have approximately two years of graduate coursework to complete. Graduate core courses are taken during the first year in the program, and breadth requirements can be taken at any time thereafter, with students typically completing most coursework during their second year.

During your first year of study, you will explore possible research fields of interest through conversations with faculty members and their research group members and by attending seminars and research group meetings. You will identify a research advisor and begin working in a research group by your first summer in the program.

A comprehensive exam that assesses readiness for research work in the chosen area of specialization must be passed by the end of the fall term in year four. Various advisory committees, composed of multiple faculty members, help support students and ensure that progress is being made towards their degree. The PhD program culminates in a written dissertation and an oral defense of the thesis.

Graduate Student Handbook

PhD Requirements Overview

To obtain a PhD in physics, a student must meet both university doctoral requirements and departmental requirements. The Department of Physics may accept for the fulfillment of any departmental requirement work at another institution, results of a special examination, or any other appropriate evidence which substantially meets the spirit of the requirement. The most important requirements are listed below.

Residency and GPA

The student must complete three years full-time work beyond the bachelor’s degree with at least one academic year (three consecutive terms of full-time study, with a minimum of 9 completed graduate credits per term) in residence on the Eugene campus after the student is officially enrolled in PhD program. The grade point average for all graduate work at the university must be 3.0 or better.

Core Courses

The student must complete the department’s core graduate courses:

  • PHYS 610 Mathematical Methods
  • PHYS 611, 612 Mechanics
  • PHYS 613, 614 Statistical Physics
  • PHYS 622, 623 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHYS 631, 632 and 633 Quantum Mechanics

Students who can demonstrate adequate competence in one or more of these subjects, based on previous study in graduate-level courses, can be excused by the director of graduate studies from completing the corresponding required courses here.

Students must complete each core course with a minimum grade of B-. If a student obtains a grade of C+ or lower on a core course, it must be re-taken and a grade of B- or better obtained to satisfy the core course grade requirement. Note that Graduate School requires graduate students to maintain a GPA average of 3.0 (B grade) or higher to continue in the program.

Grades in graduate physics courses taken elsewhere and deemed equivalent to UO courses by the director of graduate studies (see previous section), must have a recorded grade of B- or better, in order to count towards minimum core course grade requirements.

Specialized Coursework

The student must take at least six additional 4-credit graduate courses beyond the physics core courses. Normally these courses will be additional courses in physics, but they may include other graduate science or mathematics courses as approved by the director of graduate studies. These courses must be graded and a grade of B or better must be obtained. It is recommended that students complete their specialized courses by the end of their third year.

Research Courses

PHYS 601 research credit. A student will have typically completed at least 3 quarters of research credits (PHYS 601) with the same advisor prior to scheduling their comprehensive exam.

Dissertation Courses

PHYS 603 minimum 18 credit hours required, including three during final term in which the dissertation will be given.

Reading Courses

Whenever a student takes a reading course it will be listed as “PHYS 605”. However, the subject of that course does not appear on transcripts or elsewhere (and many different subjects are taken under the umbrella of PHYS 605). Therefore, before such a course is taken, it is the obligation of every student taking that course to obtain approval from the director of graduate studies. At most, two 4-credit reading courses may count towards the six additional courses required (described in the previous section).

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