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Requirements and Procedures for the Ph.D. Degree in Physics

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These regulations supplement the general requirements of the University and School of Arts and Sciences. The University and School regulations should be consulted for the full description. Exceptions to some Physics requirements can be granted by the Physics Graduate Committee, with the approval of the Department Chair.

To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the first year, the student must, no later than the end of the second semester of study, select a general thesis topic and be assigned to a suitable research advisor. The appointment of the advisor must be approved by the Physics Department Chair. For interdisciplinary research projects to be supervised primarily outside the Physics Department, a physics co-advisor will be assigned to the student.

To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the second year, the student must pass the comprehensive examination and obtain at least a grade of B in each of these courses: PH661, PH663, PH669. The comprehensive examination will consist of challenge and/or conceptual problems based on the knowledge of undergraduate material in Physics generally and/or material pertinent to the student’s expected thesis research topic. One or two problems will be composed by each member of a thesis committee.* The student will have up to 30 days to submit written solutions, and will then have to defend his/her work in an oral examination before the thesis committee. The student’s advisor will coordinate the administration of the Comprehensive Exam, and the Physics Department should receive a copy of the full exam before the student receives the exam. The result of each exam: the student completed the candidacy procedure or failed the attempt, should be reported by the advisor to the Physics Department and Graduate School within one week after the decision by the thesis committee. Up to two attempts are allowed by the University regulations.

By the end of the third year of study, to qualify for continuing in the Ph.D. program, the student is required to write a Ph.D. Research Proposal, and to defend the doctoral topic before a thesis committee.* This defense will consist of an oral presentation of the proposed thesis topic. The thesis committee members must be appointed, and receive Research Proposal copies, at least 10 working days before the oral defense. At the conclusion of the defense, the thesis committee must be satisfied that the thesis topic is of doctoral quality and that the student’s background is adequate to carry out the proposed research.

Out of the total 90 credit hours for Ph.D., the specific Physics requirements for graduation are: At least 33 credit hours of courses. Credits outside the Department: at least 6. Seminar credits: at least 6. The courses taken in Physics must include PH661, PH663, PH664, PH669, PH670. The requirement for PH664 and PH670 (passing grade) can be fulfilled any time during the study, and the student’s advisor can approve replacement of these two courses by other advanced graduate courses in the student’s chosen research field.

Each semester of full-time study in residence at Clarkson prior to the completion of 78 credits, the student must register for and obtain a passing grade in PH683 or PH684 (Graduate Seminar). Each Spring or Fall semester that they are registered for credit hours, those students who at the time receive any financial support via the University, such as full- or part-time teaching or research assistantship, tuition discount, etc., must take at least one credit of PH699.

Oral presentation and defense of the written doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee,* are required. The thesis committee members must be appointed, and receive Research Proposal copies, at least 10 working days before the oral defense.                                                                                                 


  *The thesis committee will be composed of five members; a minimum of three will be from the Clarkson Physics Department and at least one from outside the Department. The committee members are selected by the student’s advisor and then the membership is approved by the Department Chair and School Dean. A unanimous decision of the committee is required for passing.