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Graduate School Regulations

Graduate School Regulations

The text below is an unofficial summary of basic Graduate School regulations. For a complete and official description of the regulations, see the Graduate School Bulletin. This document is also issued in printed form every two years.

Students may earn an M.S. degree in physics with either a thesis (Plan A) or non-thesis (Plan B) option. Plan A requires at least 24 hours of graduate credit, Plan B requires 30 hours. In either case, at least 2/3rd of the minimum hours must be in regular graduate courses (not research or independent study courses), at least 2/3rd must be in the Physics & Astronomy Department, and at least one half must be at the 600 level or higher. For Plan A, the student may not count toward the minimum credit requirement any research or independent study courses that involve work on the thesis.

After meeting the course credit requirements and completing the theses (Plan A), M.S. students take an oral Final Examination given by an officially established committee of at least three faculty members. Finally, Plan A students submit their theses to the Graduate School in an acceptable format, hardcopy or electronic.

Note that Ph.D. students who pass the Qualifying Examination (see below) also qualify for an M.S. degree, and they are encouraged to apply for this degree.

Doctoral students are required to accumulate at least 36 hours of graduate credit (two years as a full-time student) during their "pre-qualifying residency". Once that requirement is met, they may take the Qualifying Examination, administered by an official Ph.D. Advisory Committee of at least four faculty members. One of these members must be outside the Physics & Astronomy Department. After the passing the Qualifying Examination, Ph.D. students must complete two semesters of full-time dissertation study during their "post-qualifying residency". Then they may continue their dissertation work as full-time or part-time students without further tuition payments.

Once the research is complete and the dissertation written, Ph.D. students take the Doctoral Final Examination (thesis defense). This oral exam is normally administered by the same Advisory Committee that administered the Qualifying Examination. Finally, Ph.D. students submit their dissertations to the Graduate School in an acceptable format, hardcopy or electronic. All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within five years following the semester or summer session in which the student passes the Qualifying Examination.