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    Western Michigan University
  Dec 13, 2017
Graduate Catalog 2017-18

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

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Advisor: Paul Pancella
Room 2219 Everett Tower

The Department of Physics offers a program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. The main objective of this program is to prepare students for careers in teaching and/or research in colleges and universities, or for research in industry. Research is an integral part of the program and may be performed in either experimental physics or theoretical physics. The area of specialization may be astrophysics, atomic physics, condensed matter physics, or nuclear physics. Special facilities available for research include a 6 MV model EN tandem Van De Graaff accelerator. The graduate advisor in the Department of Physics will counsel the student until a research advisor is selected. Afterwards the student will plan his/her doctoral program in consultation with the graduate advisor and his/her research advisor.


Admission Requirements

Students entering this program are expected to have acquired a bachelor’s degree in physics or at least an equivalent amount of experience and training (including training in mathematics at the appropriate level). Prospective students are required to take the Graduate Record Examination General Test. Preference in admission and determination of financial support is given to students who have taken and earned a good score on the GRE physics subject test. The departmental graduate advisor will provide assistance to students seeking admission to this program and will recommend ways of eliminating any deficiencies in course work.

Program Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Physics includes a minimum of 60 hours of graduate credit. These credits are composed of course work, supervised reading, seminars, and research. The research will be performed under the guidance of the student’s research advisor and must culminate in a dissertation suitable for publication. The required, minimum 60 hours of graduate credit shall consist of the following:

1. A core of basic courses listed below (27 credit hours).

2. Dissertation (15 credit hours).

3. Additional courses chosen from:

a. Research courses

b. Courses mutually agreed upon by the student and the graduate advisor or the research advisor.

4. An overall grade point average of 3.00 in all graduate work.

Additional Requirements

The research tool requirements must be met by demonstrated competency in two of the following: (1) Demonstrate knowledge of basic numerical procedures frequently used in computational physics. This may be satisfied by earning a grade of 3.0 or higher in PHYS 6200 or equivalent; (2) Demonstrate knowledge of differential equations at the level of MATH 5740. Students can satisfy this requirement by earning a grade of 3.0 or higher in PHYS 6150; (3) Demonstrate knowledge of physics research in either (a) equipment and laboratory practices or (b) advanced computational techniques, with satisfactory performance in PHYS 6800, or 6810, or 6820.

The courses PHYS 6100, PHYS 6150, PHYS 6200, PHYS 6220, PHYS 6300, and PHYS 6620 normally are taken during the student’s first year. In order to continue in the Ph.D. program, a student must attain a grade point average of 3.00 or higher in PHYS 6150, PHYS 6220, PHYS 6300, and PHYS 6620.

The second year courses normally include PHYS 6630, PHYS 6230, PHYS 6240, and possible one specialty course. Upon completion of PHYS 6150, PHYS 6220, PHYS 6230, PHYS 6240, PHYS 6300, PHYS 6620, and PHYS 6630 the student will take the Comprehensive Examination. This examination covers the content of these courses and basic undergraduate material, and consists of both written and oral portions. The student is expected to take this examination upon completion of the fourth semester. The examination may be repeated once.

Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination, the student will, upon counsel with the graduate advisor and with the consent of the faculty member involved, select a research advisor. The advisor must be a member of the graduate faculty. With agreement from the research advisor, the student will select a dissertation committee subject to the approval of the graduate dean. This committee will consist of the research advisor and three additional graduate faculty members, at least one of whom is from outside the Department of Physics.

Within six months of passing the Comprehensive Examination the student is expected to present a dissertation proposal to the Department of Physics members of his/her dissertation committee. A student is given a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory on this Dissertation Proposal Presentation (DPP). Upon receiving a satisfactory grade, the student shall continue into their dissertation research. Otherwise, the DPP may be repeated only once, and this must be done within three months’ time of the first presentation.

At the completion of the dissertation, the student will present an Oral Dissertation Defense. During this defense, the dissertation committee will ask questions concerning the dissertation and concerning the student’s research area. Members of the committee should be provided with copies of the dissertation at least one month in advance of the defense. The dissertation and the student’s knowledge of the subject areas must be deemed acceptable by the committee. The requirements and procedures for submission of a dissertation to the Graduate College can be obtained from that college.

Graduate students are required to attend the Physics Colloquium, which constitutes a program for graduate students and physics faculty, presented by members of the WMU physics faculty and visitors from other institutions on topics related to their research specialties. Graduate students are also expected to attend public lectures sponsored by the Department of Physics.

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