Go to the U of M home page
School of Physics & Astronomy
Physics & Astronomy Wiki

graduate_handbook:after_the_first_year

Beyond the First Year

The second year of graduate school is a transitional period between the coursework and the beginning of a research career. M.S. degree students should finish by the end of this year. Ph.D. students should complete the following by the end of the second year: pass the written exam, find a thesis advisor, start preparing for the oral exam, finish the required coursework except for a few advanced topics courses, and start on the thesis research.

Qualifying exams, Exam committees

The Graduate Degree Plan

A Graduate Degree Plan is required for both M.S. and Ph.D. students. It is entered on a form available online http://policy.umn.edu/forms/otr/otr198.pdf. For the M.S. degree it should be submitted after completion of 10 credits. For the Ph.D. degree it should be submitted at least two weeks before the Preliminary Oral Examination. The Graduate Degree Plan lists all the courses that students have taken and will take for the degree. Courses must also be identified as to whether they satisfy the major or minor requirements. The Director of Graduate Studies will help with the selection. Any transfer courses from other graduate institutions should also be listed on the Graduate Degree Plan Form. When the form is completed, it must be signed by the adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies and then returned to the Graduate School. If there is a designated minor (outside physics), the form must also be signed by the Director of Graduate Studies for the minor field.

This list of program courses must satisfy the degree requirements listed in Chapters 4 and 5. In general, there is no need to list any courses in excess of the bare minimum requirements on the program form. Substituting or deleting courses listed on the form requires submitting a revised Graduate Degree Plan form to the Graduate School that must be first signed by the adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Preliminary Oral Examination

For each Ph.D. student, the Preliminary Oral Examination committee will be set up by the Director of Graduate Studies when the Graduate Degree Plan form is submitted. This committee administers the Preliminary Oral Examination. This committee is also likely to significantly overlap with the committee that will be appointed to review the Ph.D. thesis and administer the final oral thesis defense. The committee consists of four members, three from Physics and one from outside Physics (for example, MIfA, EECS, CEMS). If there is a minor, the outside member should be from the minor field. Beside the adviser, there should be both an experimental and a theoretical faculty member in the student's subfield of physics. The adviser cannot serve as the chair. If a change in the committee is necessary after the degree program has been filed, the Director of Graduate Studies can request it from the Graduate School.

M.S. students have only one committee. It consists of three members, two from Physics and one from outside Physics. If a minor is declared, the third member must be from the minor field. The committee task is to review the thesis or the project, and administer a final oral examination.

The Preliminary Oral Examination is normally taken by Ph.D. students during their third year. This exam must be passed by the end of the third year, although in rare cases the Director of Graduate Studies may approve taking this exam at a later date (See Chapter 6 for more information). The examination should not exceed 90 minutes. The exam is based on a concise written summary of a potential PhD research project, which may form the basis for the Ph.D. thesis. The recommended length is between 10 and 15 pages (double spaced). It should be given to all the committee members at least two weeks in advance. This summary is written in close consultation with the adviser. The oral is not scheduled until the adviser agrees that it is ready for close examination. Note that this summary does not have to take the form of a thesis proposal, nor need it contain any original research done by the student. The exam begins with a presentation of the summary, which should last no more than 20 minutes, although questions during this part may extend this time period. The presentation is followed by questions from the committee. The balance of the exam should consist of questions suggested by the research summary and how it fits into the general framework of physics, but not necessarily confined to the research area. The courses listed on the Degree Program form the basis for this general part of the exam.

The goal of the examination is to determine whether a student has acquired enough tools to begin productive thesis-level research as well as the general knowledge of physics necessary to begin functioning as a professional physicist. At the end of the examination, the Committee has three options: pass, pass with reservations and fail. Pass with reservations means that the student will need to do some specific work in order to lift the reservations. The nature of the work will be communicated to the student in writing within one week after the examination. If the student does not pass the examination, 10 weeks have to elapse before a retake. Decisions of the Committee must be approved by at least a 3 to 1 vote. For more details, check http://www.catalogs.umn.edu/grad/gen/phd.html.

After passing the oral exam, a student is eligible to take Ph.D. thesis credits (Physics 8888). 24 of these credits are required for the Ph.D. degree. These should be taken immediately beginning the semester after passing the oral, up to the 14 credit limit per semester. Once these credits are completed, the student is considered to be “All But Dissertation” (ABD), and the tuition costs to the adviser or the department decrease dramatically.

For additional details, please click here.

The Thesis and Its Defense

The Thesis Defense Committee will be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student and the adviser. This Committee is often the same as the Preliminary Oral Exam Committee, but it need not be. The adviser can not be the chair of the Thesis Defense Committee. The Director of Graduate Studies will designate 3 reviewers for the thesis, who will need to approve the thesis as being ready for defense before the Graduate School will schedule your final defense. Usually, the adviser will be one of these reviewers. The Committee member from outside physics must be a thesis reviewer.

Before starting, students should review the Graduate School thesis format rules. They should look at other theses, particularly those in the same specialty area, to get an idea of how theses are organized. Note that many students have developed electronic templates and packages to format the thesis.

Before the thesis defense students must request a Graduation Packet. Requests for a Graduation Packet can be made up to one semester before the thesis defense. Included in the packet are the Thesis Reviewer's Report, Application for Degree, and Preparing Doctoral Dissertation. Complete copies of the thesis should be given to the thesis reviewers at least three weeks before the defense. The Thesis Reviewer's Report form must be signed by the thesis reviewers at least one week before the thesis defense is scheduled. After the reviewers sign the form, the student should give a copy of the thesis to all remaining members of the Committee. This should be at least one week before the defense.

The thesis defense consists of a public and a private portion. The public portion is a one hour seminar. Because the thesis presentation is required to be public by the University, the time and place of the thesis defense must be announced in the weekly departmental calendar. It is the student responsibility to make sure that this announcement is made. After the seminar, there will be an opportunity for questions from anyone in attendance. Next, the Committee will have an opportunity to privately question the student about the thesis. At this time, generally, only questions about the thesis and related subjects are asked. Finally, the Committee will excuse the student and take its vote. For a pass, there must be no more than one dissenting vote.

The Graduate School permits an opportunity to graduate each month of the year. If the Graduate Application for Degree form is submitted by the end of the first business day of the month, the student will graduate as of that month provided all other requirements are complete and all forms are in the Graduate School office by the end of the last business day of the month. Otherwise, the date of the degree will be delayed until the month in which all the requirements are completed.

Courses

Physics Courses by Sub-Field

Core Courses - Required

5001: Quantum Mechanics I

5002: Quantum Mechanics II

5011: Classical Physics I

5012: Classical Physics II

5201: Thermal and Statistical Mechanics

5072: Best Practices in College Physics Teachings - 2 semesters (required to be a TA)

Atomic Physics and Optics

4711: Introduction to Optics

8161: Atomic and Molecular Structure

Biophysics and Medical Physics

5081: Introduction to Biopolymer Physics

5401: Physiological Physics

5402: Radiological Physics

8311: Biological Physics of Single Molecules

8312: Biological Physics of Macroscopic Systems

8300: Biological and Medical Physics Seminar

Condensed Matter Physics

4211: Introduction to Solid State Physics

5701: Solid State Physics for Engineers and Scientists

5702: Solid State Physics for Engineers and Scientists

8702: Statistical Mechanics and Transport Theory

8711: Solid State Physics I

8712: Solid State Physics II

8750: Advanced Topics in Condensed Matter Physics

8700: Condensed Matter Physics Seminar

Elementary Particle Physics

4511: Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

8011: Quantum Field Theory I

8012: Quantum Field Theory II

8013: Special Topics in Quantum Field Theory

8901: Elementary Particle Physics I

8902: Elementary Particle Physics II

8911: Introduction to Supersymmetry

8950: Advanced Topics in Elementary Particle Physics

8900: Seminar: Elementary Particle Physics

Mathematical, Advanced Quantum, and Computational Physics

5041: Analytical and Numerical Methods of Physics I

5042: Analytical and Numerical Methods of Physics II

8001: Advanced Quantum Mechanics

8301: Symmetry and its Application to Physical Problems

Nuclear Physics

4511: Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

8801: Nuclear Physics I

8802: Nuclear Physics II

8850: Advanced Topics in Nuclear Physics

8800: Seminar: Nuclear Physics

Plasma and Space Physics

4611: Introduction to Space Physics

4621: Introduction to Plasma Physics

8601: Plasma Physics I

8602: Plasma Physics II

8611: Cosmic Rays and Plasma Astrophysics

8650: Advanced Topics in Space and Plasma Physics

8600: Seminar: Space Physics

Relativity and Cosmology

5022: Relativity, Cosmology, and the Universe

8501: General Relativity and Cosmology I

8502: General Relativity and Cosmology II

8200: Seminar: Cosmology and Astrophysics

Physics Education

8100: Seminar: Problems of Physics Teaching and Higher Education

Some typical course programs

Typical course programs for various sub-fields can be found here.

Typical courses for first year students were discussed in the previous section. In the succeeding years, the selection of courses will depend on the student's research field and on whether the student is a theorist or experimentalist. Some of these courses are not offered every year. By the second year a student should be regularly attending the chosen research group's seminars. After 24-28 credits of course work during the first year, another 12-16 credits are required for the Ph.D. program. Since most of the 8xxx classes are 3 credits, 4 to 6 such courses, along with the group seminar, will be needed.


Condensed Matter Experiment
Fall Spring
8711: Solid State Physics I 8712: Solid State Physics II
Material Science or Engineering elective 8702: Statistical Mechanics II
8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter 8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter
Condensed Matter Theory
Fall Spring
8711: Solid State Physics I 8712: Solid State Physics II
8001: Advanced Quantum Mechanics 8702: Statistical Mechanics II
8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter 8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter
High Energy Experiment
Fall Spring
8001: Advanced Quantum Mechanics 8011: Quantum Field Theory I
8901: Elementary Particle Physics I 8902: Elementary Particle Physics II
8900: Seminar: Elementary Particles 8900: Seminar: Elementary Particles
High Energy Theory
Fall Spring
8001: Advanced Quantum Mechanics 8011: Quantum Field Theory I
8901: Elementary Particle Physics I 8902: Elementary Particle Physics II
8900: Seminar: Elementary Particles 8900: Seminar: Elementary Particles
8501: General Relativity and Cosmology I 8502: General Relativity and Cosmology II
8012: Quantum Field Theory II
Nuclear Theory
Fall Spring
8001: Advanced Quantum Mechanics 8702: Statistical Mechanics II
8012: Quantum Field Theory II 8011: Quantum Field Theory I
8800: Seminar: Nuclear Physics 8800: Seminar: Nuclear Physics
8801: Nuclear Physics I 8802: Nuclear Physics II
Space Physics and Astrophysics
Fall Spring
4611: Introduction to Space Physics 4621: Introduction to Plasma Physics
8501: General Relativity and Cosmology I 8502: General Relativity and Cosmology II
8600: Seminar: Space Physics 8600: Seminar: Space Physics
8601: Plasma Physics I 8602: Plasma Physics II
8611: Cosmic Rays and Plasma Astrophysics
Biological Physics
Fall Spring
8711: Solid State Physics I 5081: Introduction to Biopolymer Physics
biochemistry or biology elective 8311: Biological Physics of Single Molecules
biochemistry or biology elective 8312: Biological Physics of Macroscopic Systems
8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter, or
8-level seminar in biochemistry
8700: Seminar: Condensed Matter, or
8-level seminar in biochemistry
Physics Education
Fall Spring
EPSY 8261: Statistical Methods I EPSY8262: Statistical Methods II
EPSY 8114: Cognition & Learning EPSY 5247: Qualitative Methods in Educational Psychology
CI 8595: Problems in Science Education EPSY 8222: Advanced Measurement: Theory & Application
CGSC 8410: Perspectives in Learning, Perception & Cognition PHYS 8100: Seminar: Problems of Physics Teaching & Higher Education
graduate_handbook/after_the_first_year.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/06 23:34 by kapusta