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Physics Coursework

Core Course Requirements: To be completed within the first four semesters

  • PHYS 237 - Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHYS 210 - Electrodynamics
  • PHYS 212 - Statistical Mechanics
  • PHYS 205 - Classical Mechanics

Electives: To be completed at any time while working toward a Ph.D. or master's

  • An elective from the physics courses
  • A second elective, which may be chosen from any graduate level course in the schools of Natural Sciences or Engineering. Physics electives include advanced physics courses such as Quantum Mechanics II, Condensed Matter Physics, Biophysics and any other PHYS 2XX courses available. They can also include graduate courses from the Applied Math, BEST or chemistry groups as long as they are 3 units and taken as a graded class
  • At least one elective must be a course outside the student's primary research area for Ph.D students, approved by graduate advisor or the graduate group chair for Physics
  • In addition, students must take 1 unit of BEST/QSB 294 Responsible Conduct of Research
  • 4 semesters of physics seminar

Other courses may be added to these lists as fulfilling the requirements at any time, as designated by the physics faculty. There is no foreign language course requirement.



YEAR 1 (semesters 1 & 2)

  • Learn about all research groups
  • Take classes
  • Pass Preliminary Exam ( if applicable )
  • Pick Ph.D. advisor by end of second semester


  • Begin full time research with Ph.D. advisor

YEAR 2 ( semesters 3 & 4 )

  • Continue full time research with Ph.D. advisosr
  • Take one class per semester ( if necessary )
  • Assemble faculty committee ( beginning of 3rd semester )
  • Prepare for Qualifying Exam
  • Schedule Qualifying Exam during 4th semester -Defend Ph.D. research proposal
  • Apply for candidacy after passing Qualifying Exams ( end of 4th semester )


  • Conduct research
  • Prepare manuscripts for publications
  • Present work at a scientific conference, network for career


  • Conduct research
  • Continue publishing manuscripts
  • present work at a scientific conference, network for career

YEAR 5 ( semesters 9 & 10 )

  • Conduct research
  • Present work at a scientific conference, network for career
  • Declare candidacy for graduation ( 9th semester )
  • Defend and publish dissertation