The official requirements for a graduate degree are prescribed in the Graduate Catalog, but there are also schedules and procedures listed in the Course Schedule for each semester, regulations listed in other University publications, and some requirements and procedures not to be found in any publication.

This is not an official publication. Although every effort is made to be accurate, the official rules are those as stated in official publications.

This guide covers the basic and usual procedures. Exceptions, special cases, and the procedures for treating them are omitted. If you have questions or uncertainty, be sure to visit us to discuss the matter.

The Physics Graduate Office is located on the fifth floor of RLM; see the column to the right for complete contact information. You can always refer to copies of the Catalog and Course Schedules there, as well as review notices of new courses, job opportunities, and fellowships. The current Graduate Advisor and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee is Prof. John Keto.

Please note that the Graduate Office is part of the Physics Department, whereas the GRADUATE SCHOOL refers to the Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School with offices in the Main Building (Tower), Room 101.

Master's Degrees

 

Master's of Arts in Physics

 

The Master's degree requires 30 semester-hours work, including 6 hours of thesis course work (PHY 698A & 698B). The remaining 24 hours of technical courses must include at least 18 hours of physics and at least 6 hours of supporting work (usually outside the Department). The courses must generally be graduate courses taken for a grade, but up to 6 hours may be taken credit/no credit, and a maximum of 9 hours may be upper-division undergraduate courses provided no more than 6 of the hours are in one category, physics or supporting work. The Physics Department does not generally approve seminar, research (390/690), or advanced topics courses for a master's program beyond three hours of PHY 386N “Technical Seminar”, and PHY 390 “Graduate Research”, required when taking PHY 380N “Experimental Physics” during the Long Session. All work must be completed within a six-year period. 

 

Master's of Science in APPLIED Physics

 

The MS degree requires 30 hours of credit, six of which are obtained by the preparation of the required thesis. This course work must include the graduate-level Physics courses in experimental physics, quantum mechanics, classical electrodynamics, the physics of sensors, and the technical seminar. Supporting work must be chosen from engineering, chemistry, or geological sciences.

The masters degree requires 30 semester-hours of work, including the six hours of thesis. The remaining 24 hours of technical courses must include at least 18 hours of Physics and at least six hours of supporting work (usually outside the Department). The courses must generally be graduate courses taken for a grade, but up to six hours may be taken pass/fail, and a maximum of nine hours may be upper-division undergraduate courses, provided that no more than six of those hours are in one category, Physics or supporting work. The Physics Department does not generally approve seminar, research (390/690), or advanced topics courses for a Master’s program beyond three hours of Technical Seminar and the 390 required with 380N. All work must be completed within a six-year period.

The department also awards a Master of Science in Applied Physics. This degree requires specific coursework: 380N, 387K, 389K, the Physics of Sensors (386K), and the Technical Seminar. The supporting work must be in Engineering, Chemistry, or Geological Sciences.

At the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate, you must have your program of work approved (if you have not done so earlier) and must apply for a degree with the Graduate School. The guidelines and deadlines to apply to graduate are available online from the Graduate School’s web site. They will also give you information regarding the format required for theses, about which they are adamant. Be sure to consult the Graduate School for all deadlines, especially the submission of the thesis.

Work done for a Master’s degree may also be used as part of the Ph.D program, but earning a Master’s degree does not extend any of the deadlines specified for the doctoral program. A Master’s degree is not required for a Ph.D. degree, and most students proceed directly to the doctorate.

 

MASTER'S OF SCIENCE

 

The MS degree requires 30 hours of credit, six of which are obtained by the preparation of the required thesis. This course work must include the graduate-level Physics courses in experimental physics, quantum mechanics, classical electrodynamics, the physics of sensors, and the technical seminar. Supporting work must be chosen from engineering, chemistry, or geological sciences.

Ph.D

General

 

There are three steps in the program leading to the Ph.D. degree. The first is the Qualifying Process, the second is Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy, and the last step is the preparation of a dissertation based on original research and its approval followed by a Final Oral Examination/Defense. The details of each step follow:

 

Qualifying Process [Step 1]

 

Prior to being admitted to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, the student must fulfill the following three requirements:

  1. Fulfill the Core Course requirement described below;
  2. Show evidence of exposure to modern methods of experimental physics; this exposure may have been gained in a research type senior level laboratory course taken by the student as an undergraduate and approved by the Graduate Adviser, or by previous participation in an experimental program, or in PHY 380N; and,
  3. Fulfill the oral examination requirement described below.

Core Course Requirement. During the first two years of graduate study, the student must complete four core courses: PHY 385K “Classical Mechanics”, PHY 385L “Statistical Mechanics”, PHY 387K “Electromagnetic Theory I” or PHY 387L “Electromagnetic Theory II”, and PHY 389K “Quantum Mechanics I” or PHY 389L “Quantum Mechanics II”. The student must earn a grade of at least B‐ in each course and a grade point average of at least B+ (3.33) in the four courses. The student may ask for the grade he or she earns in PHY 380N to be substituted for the grade in one of the core courses when the average is computed. A well-prepared student may seek to fulfill the Core Course Requirement by taking only the final examinations and earning the grade of at least B‐ for one or two of these courses rather than by registering for them; however, in this case, the student does not receive graduate credit for these courses and the grade is not counted toward the formal graduate G.P.A. The student may only attempt the exam for a particular course once.

The Oral Qualifying Examination. After satisfying the first two requirements above and within twenty‐seven months of entering the program, the student must take the Oral Qualifying Examination. This examination consists of a public seminar presented before a committee of four Physics faculty members, one of whom is a member of the GSSC (see Section 2.1.3). It is followed by a private oral examination. The student chooses the topic of the seminar. The seminar need not present original work; he or she is expected only to demonstrate sufficient command of a specialty to begin original research in that area. The topic is usually that which will become your dissertation. As part of the examination, the student will generally be expected to indicate a problem whose solution would be a satisfactory dissertation. The questions are directed toward clarifying the presentation and helping the committee determine whether the student has a solid grasp of the basic material needed for research in his or her specialization. The student passes the examination by obtaining a positive vote from at least three of the four faculty members on the committee.

Preparation for the Oral Qualifying Examination and the “Pizza Seminar”: Students are strongly encouraged to explore specialties in which they might pursue dissertation research. The “Pizza Seminar”, held weekly in both the fall and spring semesters, is designed to assist students in choosing their research topics and supervisors. Faculty from all research groups (see Section 2.4) will talk about their research interests as well as discuss possible research topics suitable for students. The atmosphere is informal; pizza is served to all attendees. The pizza seminar is offered as a regular graduate course PHY 396T “Particle Physics: Introduction to Research”. In addition, individual faculty list information on research interests on the web.

For most areas, certain advanced courses (see Section 3.3.3) are necessary to reach the level required for the qualifying examination. These courses and their prerequisites are also principal considerations in scheduling your courses during the first two years.

 

Admission to Candidacy [Step 2]

 

After passing the Qualifying Examination, students must apply for Candidacy before the end of the following semester. Formal admission to Ph.D. Candidacy consists of the submission and approval of the following:

1. Program of Work

The Program of Work comprises a list of courses that meets the requirements given below, and the prospective dissertation title. The Graduate Adviser must approve the Program of Work. The Program of Work for the Ph.D. is a paper form available on the Department’s website. In addition to the core courses, each Program of Work for the Ph.D. degree must include at least four advanced physics courses (with a letter grade of at least B-), at least one of which must be in a specialty other than that of the student's dissertation. A list of acceptable advanced courses is available at the Physics Graduate Office, on the Department’s website, and in Section 3.3.3 below. The Program of Work must also include three courses outside the student's area of specialization. One of these must be an advanced physics course; another must be outside the Department of Physics; the third may be either an advanced physics course or a course outside the Department of Physics. The courses outside the Department may be taken credit/no credit. All these required courses and the dissertation courses must be listed on the Program of Work.

2.  Dissertation Committee

The membership of the Dissertation Committee, proposed by the student with the approval of the Graduate Adviser, is submitted to The Graduate School for approval by the Graduate Dean through the Online Application for Candidacy available through The Graduate School’s website. The Dissertation Committee consists of at least five members, one of whom must be from outside the major program. The chair of the Dissertation Committee ordinarily serves as the supervisor of research. When the research supervisor is not a member of the Physics GSC, one such member should be appointed as co‐chair of the Dissertation Committee. If the supervisor is not a member of the Department of Physics faculty, a majority of the committee should be.

3.  Dissertation Proposal

A brief statement of the proposed dissertation must be submitted. (This statement is submitted as part of the Online Application for Candidacy described above.)

 

The Dissertation and Final Oral Examination [Step 3]

 

Once advanced to candidacy, the student must maintain continuous registration (including the “Dissertation” course) during the long semesters, but advising is no longer required to register. The dissertation research course (X99R) must precede the dissertation writing course (X99W). X99R need only be taken during the first semester following the student’s advancement to Candidacy. The student has three years to complete the dissertation and take any courses remaining on his or her Program of Work. If you have not completed the requirements within three years, further registration depends upon the recommendation of your Dissertation Committee and the Physics Department. If the Dissertation Committee finds that the student is making good progress towards the degree, an additional year of Candidacy is commonly granted. Beyond that, however, candidacy will be extended only with specific argument and special circumstances.

At the beginning of the semester in which the student expects to graduate, he or she must apply for graduation. There are multiple deadlines associated with graduation, among these is the Request for Final Oral Defense of the Dissertation which requires the final abstract of the dissertation, drafts for the committee members, and signatures of the entire committee. The form must be filed with The Graduate School at least two weeks in advance of the Defense. There is also a deadline for submitting the dissertation, including signatures of each committee member, in the exact form dictated by The Graduate School. Be sure to review all the requirements carefully and confer with the members of your Dissertation Committee to confirm that they will be available when needed. If you have not taken all the courses listed in your Program of Work, but have taken equivalent courses instead, you must formally request a change in your Program of Work.

If you encounter or anticipate any problems, please see the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible to explore possible actions. Many of the forms are now available online. To learn more, please visit The Graduate School’s website at http://www.utexas.edu/ogs/student_services/.

 

Special Degree Programs

Würzburg Exchange Program

Intensive One-Year Master’s (Würzburg)


Fall

 

380N — Experimental Physics
390 — Research Course
3xx — Physics course (386K suggested)
3xx — Physics (or related) course


Spring


698A — Master’s Thesis
386N — Technical Seminar
3xx — Physics course
3xx — Mathematics, CAM, EE, or other technical course


Summer


698B — Master’s Thesis
3xx — Mathematics, CAM, EE, or other technical course


The six hours of technical supporting work can be transferred from the University of Würzburg.