Course Requirements

Course Requirements

Requirements for the Ph.D. include the following courses: Physics 209 (Classical Electromagnetism), Physics 211 (Equilibrium Statistical Physics) and Physics 221A-221B (Quantum Mechanics) plus 19 elective units (five semester courses) of material selected from upper division or graduate courses (not including any upper division material required for the undergraduate major), of which at least 11 of those 19 units must be in the 200 series courses. Some of the 19 units could include courses in mathematics, biophysics, or astrophysics. Physics 290, 295, 299, 301, and 602 are excluded from the 19 units considered above. Physics 209, Physics 211, and 221A-221B are course requirements that must be completed for a letter grade (averaging at least B). No more than one-third of the 19 elective units of the Ph.D. program may be fulfilled by courses graded Satisfactory, and then only with the approval of the Department.

Entering students are required to enroll in Physics 209 and 221A in the fall semester and Physics 211 and 221B in the spring semester. Exceptions to this requirement are as follows: 1) students who do not have sufficient background to enroll in these courses and have approval from their mentor to delay enrollment to take preparatory classes, 2) students who have taken the equivalent of these courses elsewhere (see below).

If a student has taken courses equivalent to Physics 209, 211, or 221A-221B, then subject credit may be granted for Physics 209 and 211, or 221A-221B.  It is department policy that incoming students take all required graduate courses unless they have taken an equivalent course elsewhere and pass the section of the prelim exam on this subject.  Students therefore who wish to waive a graduate course requirement in their first year must take and pass the associated section of the written prelim on entering their first semester (Fall).   Students must meet with the instructor at the beginning of the semester for course approval.  If the instructor agrees that you have satisfied the course requirement elsewhere, you must secure the instructor’s approval on a waiver form that can be obtained in 378 Physics North Hall.  After you have secured their approval, give the waiver form to Joelle and see your faculty mentor to discuss what other courses to enroll for the fall. Please note that official approval will not be granted until after the prelim results have been announced.

In exceptional cases, students transferring from other graduate programs may request a partial waiver of the 19 elective unit requirement. Such requests must be made at the time of application for admission to the Department.

A typical first year program for an entering graduate student: 

First Semester

Physics 209 Classical Electromagnetism
Physics 221A Quantum Mechanics
Physics 251 Introduction to Graduate Research
Physics 301 GSI Teaching Credit (2)  (if applicable)
Physics 375 GSI Training Seminar (for first time GSI's) (if applicable)

Second Semester

Physics 211 Equilibrium Statistical Physics
Physics 221B Quantum Mechanics
Physics 301 GSI Credit (if applicable)

The minimum unit requirement for all graduate students is 12 units each semester. If you are one or two units short of the 12 unit requirement, you should enroll in one of the two-unit physics seminar course offerings each semester. Course control numbers are posted on the Department website and bulletin board outside 372 Physics North Hall.

Physics 290B - Space Physics     
Physics C290C - Cosmology       
Physics 290E - Particle Physics     
Physics 290F - Atomic Physics 
Physics 290K - Condensed Matter      
Physics 290P - Phenomenology     
Physics 290Z (1) - String Theory     
Physics 290Z (2) - Particle Theory 

If you start work in a research group and haven't passed prelims, you may receive credit for research in Physics 295 for 1-4 units.     

Information about courses, schedules, prerequisites, units and instructors may be obtained from the General Catalog and from the Physics Courses.