Degree Requirements

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 eight core courses: PH571 and 572 (Mathematical Methods for Physics I and II), 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 eight core courses. In addition, a student is required to complete four credits of PH692 (Seminar) and two electives from physics classroom courses at the 500 level or above. PH541 and PH551 cannot be used to fulfill the elective requirements, and at least one of the electives must be outside the student’s primary area of research.

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.

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.