The Department of Physics is among the largest physics departments in the country. The student body is diverse with most of the undergraduates (-350 majors) from the state of Texas and most of the graduate enrollment (-250 students) from out-of-state and foreign contries. A large fraction of the teaching load of the department is in service courses for non-majors in engineering and medicine. The research interests of the faculty span all areas of modern physics and some of these groups are among the best in the world. The City of Austin is a growing, progressive urban center (-1 million population), which is home to three smaller universities and a large community college system. The area provides a full range of options for housing, entertainment, and transportation with a full spectrum of research options.
We accept students for pursuit of a PH.D degree on a competitive basis. Applications for a position in the fall semester are due by Dec 1 of the preceding year. We rarely accept students seeking a terminal master's degree and we do not support those students financially. A fair fraction of students who enter our programs seeking a Ph.D choose, usually for personal reasons, to end their studies with an M.A. For students who enter seeking a Ph.D, the University considers you to be a Master's candidate until you qualify for Ph.D candidacy.
Candidacy demarks a threshold in your academic program. Prior to qualifying, you generally take courses, select a subfield of specialization, and begin research with a supervisor in preparation for qualifying. Our qualification process requires a B+ average in four core courses (which are graded on a B+ curve), the presentation of a seminar on proposed research for your dissertation, and an oral exam. The oral exam tests your knowledge of the core classes and your area of research.
We do not have a written candidacy exam. Post-qualification, you will work on your dissertation and take a few highly specialized courses in your field of interest (e.g. plasma, condensed matter, nuclear, etc.) as well as selected courses outside of your field and department.