Degree Requirements

Effective Fall 2018

Master of Science – Thesis Option (Plan A)

Photo of graduate students

A student must complete a minimum of 30 semester credits. These must include 18 credits in physics classroom courses at the 500 level or higher and two credits of PH692 (Seminar). The student must also perform research and prepare a thesis. The final examination for the Plan A M.S. Degree is the thesis defense.

Master of Science – Non-Thesis Option (Plan B)

A student must complete a minimum of 32 semester credits. These must include 21 credits in physics classroom courses at the 500 level or higher, three additional credits in the physics classroom courses at the 500 level or higher or in PH693 (Current Topics in Physics Research), and two credits of PH692 (Seminar). The final examination for the Plan B M.S. degree is the seminar/examination.

M.S. Final Examination Limit

A maximum of two attempts at final examinations for the M.S. degree is allowed.

Doctor of Philosophy

The primary requirement is a dissertation covering research performed by the student under the supervision of a research advisor. A minimum of 72 semester credits including course work and research is required. These must include the seven core courses: PH571 (Mathematical Methods for Physics I), PH621 (Classical Mechanics), PH641 and 642 (Electromagnetism I and II), PH651 and 652 (Quantum Mechanics I and II), and PH671 (Statistical Mechanics).

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved for these seven core courses. In addition, a student is required to complete four credits of PH692 (Seminar), 6 credit hours of electives from physics classroom courses at the 500 level or above, and an additional 3 credit hours of physics classroom course(s) at the 600 level or above. Neither PH517 nor PH572 can be used to fulfill the elective requirements and at least 3 credits must be on a subject that is outside the student’s primary area of research.

Students who entered the graduate program prior to FA18 can use either the original or revised curricula to satisfy their degree requirements. The original requirements have the same credit hour requirements but specified that students must complete the seven core courses listed plus PH572 with a minimum grade point of 3.0 for these eight courses, plus 6 credit hours of elective physics classroom courses at the 500 level or higher, 3 credits of which must be from outside the student’s primary area of research, and four credits of PH692 (Seminar).

Requests for course substitutes, waivers, or transfer credits should be made in writing to the department Graduate Advisory Committee. The oral preliminary examination includes a formal presentation of the student’s proposal for dissertation research, followed by an oral examination administered by the student’s graduate thesis committee. The student must pass the Ph.D. preliminary examination. The thesis defense cannot occur earlier than the second term following the preliminary exam.  Term is defined as the period of time beginning on the first day of classes and ending on the day before the first day of class of the subsequent term.  (e.g.: any preliminary given during winter break is considered to be part of the preceding, fall term).  The final examination for the Ph.D. degree is the dissertation defense.  In addition to these department requirements concerning the timing of the preliminary examination, there are also graduate school requirements.  Both sets of requirements will need to be satisfied.

Procedures for Graduate Study

The program of study for each graduate student consists of formal course work and, in the case of doctoral candidates and master’s candidates choosing the thesis option (Plan A), original research. Each individual program is determined by consultation between the student and the student’s graduate committee. Each entering student is assigned a temporary advisor upon arrival at Colorado State University.

During the first year, a student pursuing a degree requiring a thesis or dissertation should become familiar with the various research activities in the department and select an advisor. The student and advisor should select a committee, which will advise the student, assist in the preparation of the program of study, have general supervision over the research and the thesis or dissertation, administer the final examination, and, for Ph.D. candidates, administer the preliminary examination. A student pursuing a Plan B M.S. degree should also select a committee during the first year, which will select journal articles for the final examination and administer the final examination.

The lower-level graduate courses are organized to provide a solid foundation in the core areas of physics at an advanced level and to expedite entry into research. In some cases, formal course work in disciplines other than physics is encouraged in order to achieve the proper breadth for professional flexibility.

The standard course load for full-time graduate students during the first two years of graduate study is 15 credits per semester.