Course Requirements for Ph.D.

What follows are the default set of requirements for all Physics Ph.D. candidates.

A total of 11 courses (33 hours) of advanced lecture courses are required. This excludes all seminars and colloquia.

  1. Core courses
    • PHSX 711 Quantum Mechanics I
    • PHSX 811 Quantum Mechanics II
    • PHSX 821 Classical Mechanics
    • PHSX 831 Electrodynamics I
  2. Other required courses
    • PHSX 717 Graduate Seminar (satisfies Responsible Scholarship requirement)
    • PHSX 718 Mathematical Physics
    • PHSX 815 Computational Physics (satisfies Research Skills requirement)
    • PHSX 871 Statistical Physics I (usually offered every two years. Substitution of CHEM 852 for this credit is not permitted) 
    • PHSX 931 Electrodynamics II (usually offered every two years)
  3. Two additional PHSX lecture courses (Numbered 700 or above). This excludes PHSX 815 (computational physics) and 717 (graduate seminar). The two courses must be in different sub-fields of physics and they may not be used to simultaneously satisfy other degree requirements in force. (For example, if PHSX 911 is being used to satisfy the PHSX 811 core requirement, it may not also be used for this requirement.) 
  4. One credit hour of Colloquium is required (PHSX 700). See "Colloquium and Graduate Seminar" below for an explanation.
  5. All graduate students, after their first semester, will deliver at least one oral presentation per semester. See "Communication Skills" for an explanation 
  6. A Ph.D. student who has not had the equivalent of six credit hours of advanced undergraduate laboratory course work, as described in the individualized plan of study, is required to take one of the three advanced laboratory courses offered in the Department. Other experimental work (for example, senior thesis or undergraduate research experience) may be considered toward meeting this requirement. 
    • PHSX 516 Physical Measurements I
    • PHSX 536 Electronic Circuits and Measurements 
    • PHSX 601 Design of Physical and Electronic Systems

The courses listed above comprise the Department course requirements common to all students except those pursuing a multi-disciplinary plan of study, which is described below. Subsequent work, consisting of advanced courses in appropriate fields and seminars, will be selected by the student and the advisor on the basis of the student's need and intended field of specialization. There is no prescribed minimum number of hours for the Ph.D. degree. The student's dissertation committee will determine the adequacy of the student's courses and seminars and will specify the total course requirements in addition to those listed above.

Students who wish to pursue a more multidisciplinary plan of study may incorporate coursework from up to two other natural science, engineering, or mathematics (SEM) departments at KU by substituting non PHSX courses at the 600 level and above from these other disciplines for the two additional electives previously described. The research advisor or the Departmental Graduate Advisor, who is the default advisor for all students without a research advisor, shall approve all such outside course choices and provide documentation for the student file on the approved courses and their rationale.

Students who wish to take courses in the social sciences, humanities, or professional schools must submit a detailed plan of study that must be approved by the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Committee. Please note that while these unique plans involving non SEM fields will be considered, there is no guarantee that the plan of study will be approved.

Suggested course schedule

A sample academic schedule for a student who has a half-time teaching or research assistantship during the first four semesters is shown below. It includes the core courses for admission to preliminary candidacy and a set of lecture courses that meet the Ph.D. course requirements. It is the schedule for a full-time resident student with the normal preparation described above and who is working toward the Ph.D. degree. Students admitted with less preparation should begin with less advanced courses. Only courses numbered 500 and above carry graduate credit.

The electives listed below, e.g. 741, 781, 795, 911, are purely an illustrative option. Students have the freedom to choose which non-required courses satisfy their elective requirements. Note that this sample schedule may also not apply for a student pursuing a more multidisciplinary plan of study. 

First semester

711 Quantum Mechanics I 3
718 Mathematical Physics 3
821 Classical Mechanics 3
717 Graduate Seminar 1

Second semester

811 Quantum Mechanics II 3
815 Computational Physics 3
831 Electrodynamics I 3

Third semester

781 Solid State Physics 3
931 Electrodynamics II 3

Fourth semester

795 Space Plasma Physics 3
871 Statistical Physics I 3

Colloquium and Graduate Seminar

All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in PHSX 700, Colloquium, in their sixth semester as an enrolled Physics and Astronomy graduate student. Students need to have attended at least 75% of the regularly scheduled colloquia during their six semesters to achieve a passing grade.

In Fall of the first year, each graduate student is required to enroll in and attend the graduate seminar (PHSX 717) in order to become familiar with research programs in the Department and gain experience in oral presentations.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship

By the end of the first year after being admitted to preliminary candidacy, the student must complete PHSX/ASTR 815, Computational Physics and Astronomy, with a grade of "B" or higher in order to satisfy the Research Skills requirement. Note that this course has significant prerequisites in undergraduate Computer Science. The Responsible Scholarship requirement is filled via completion of the PHSX 717 Graduate Seminar.


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