This Graduate Student Handbook is designed to give you information that will facilitate a rewarding graduate career. It should always be considered as a supplement to the more authoritative Graduate School Catalog, which is available on-line at http://www1.umn.edu/commpub/gradindex.html. In the event of any conflict, you should always refer to the Graduate School Catalog. If you find any errors or misleading statements in this Handbook, you should call them to the attention of the Director of Graduate Studies.
Also, this Handbook is not a substitute for detailed discussions with your faculty advisor. When you first arrive, you will be assigned an advisor to get you started with your graduate program. As soon as possible, you will choose a research advisor, who will have more effect on your graduate career than any person other than yourself. If you have questions that your advisor cannot answer, either you or your advisor should direct them to the Director of Graduate Studies.
In this chapter, we try to present a general overview of what you can expect each year during your time in graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Of course, the expectations indicated here will need to be modified to your individual circumstances with the help of your advisor. The first year is very important to getting you started on the right track in graduate school. It is discussed in more detail in Chapter 2. Some aspects of subsequent years are covered in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 outlines the specific requirements for a Master of Science degree (M.S.) in physics. The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in physics are discussed in Chapter 5. The policies of the School of Physics and Astronomy concerning graduate students, including those concerning the written qualifying and oral preliminary examinations and financial aid, are contained in Chapter 6.
The final sections of this chapter deal with very important topics: money and jobs. In particular, we try to explain the Graduate School's rules concerning tuition and such related items as residency requirements and thesis credits. With the tuition waiver system, very few of you should pay any tuition. Finally, we discuss some aspects of looking for jobs after graduation.
A special note to students who entered the University of Minnesota before Fall, 1999: All statements about credit requirements in this handbook are quoted in semester credits. Quarter credits earned at the University of Minnesota before Fall, 1999, or another university on the quarter system are generally worth 2/3 of a semester credit. For example, the 12 credit supporting program requirement for the Ph.D. can be satisfied by 18 quarter credits.
If this is your first year of graduate school at the University of Minnesota, welcome! Your goal during this period is to carefully examine your talents and interests and embark on your chosen area of research. The Department provides several organized tools to help you launch your career. These include courses to provide a sound grounding in Physics, a Colloquium and seminars to introduce you to current research directions, and a teaching experience to begin developing leadership and communication skills. This first year gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities in all of these areas. During this period you will have your first opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of physics by passing the graduate written examination (see Chapter 2).