PhD Requirements Summary

Please refer to the Formal Requirements for Graduate Study in Physics for complete details.

Post-Bachelor Students

I. COURSES: Sixteen (16) four-credit courses are required:

  • At least 10 lecture courses from the 500-850 levels, including:
    • The required 5 initial sequence theoretical courses.
    • The required Advanced Laboratory (PY581).
    • 2 distribution courses from outside the student’s field of specialization.
  • Up to 6 non-lecture courses: these include directed research, directed study (2 maximum), or seminar (2 maximum).
  • Students who have taken equivalent courses may petition for specific course waivers.
  • In addition to the courses listed above, first year students are required to take the one-credit courses GRS PY 961 and 962, Scholarly Methods in Physics. Students who serve as Teaching Fellows are required to take the two-credit course GRS PY 699, Teaching College Physics, each semester they teach.

II. WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

  • Post-Bachelor degree students must officially take the exam by August of the start of their second year in residence at Boston University.
  • A single early attempt ("free shot") may be taken by all students immediately upon entering the program in August of the first year.

III. ORAL QUALIFYING EXAMINATION

  • Oral Examination should be taken within one calendar year after successful completion of the Written Comprehensive Examination, but no later than January of the third year.
  • Completion of Advanced Laboratory required before a student is eligible for the Oral Examination.
  • Four committee members selected at least 3 weeks before the examination.
  • One page abstract to the committee at least 2 weeks before the examination.

IV. INTERIM PROGRESS REPORT

  • Student prepares three to five page description of her/his research activities.
  • Report to be read and signed by research advisor.
  • Report includes description of research activities and anticipated scope and time-scale for completion of PhD.
  • Report to be submitted to Director of Graduate Studies after passing Oral Qualifying Exam and no later than the Spring semester of the student's fourth year in physics graduate studies.

V. DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR

  • Seminar must occur at least 6 months before the dissertation defense.
  • Seminar to be scheduled so that entire thesis committee is present (all faculty and students are invited).
  • Thesis proposal to the committee at least 2 weeks before the seminar.
  • The committee will meet privately with student immediately after the seminar to provide guidance for completion fo PhD project.

VI. PhD DISSERTATION AND DEFENSE (approx. deadlines: mid-April for May graduation, mid-December for January graduation).

  • Approved thesis abstract received by the Graduate School at least 3 weeks prior to the defense.
  • Draft of thesis received by the thesis committee at least 2 weeks prior to the defense.

RECOMMENDED INITIAL COURSE SEQUENCE—numbered courses required for Post-Bachelor Students

1st Year 2nd Year
Semester I Semester II September Semester I Semester II May – Sept.
QM I (PY511) QM II (PY512) Comprehensive Exam Adv. Lab (PY581) distr/non-lecture Oral Qualifying Exam
Math Phy (PY501) EM I (PY521)   distr./non-lecture distr./non-lecture  
SM I (PY541) elective        

Post-Master Students

I. COURSES: Eight (8) four-credit courses are required:

  • At least 5 courses from the 500-850 levels, including Advanced Laboratory and 2 distribution courses from outside the student’s field of specialization.
  • Up to 3 non-lecture courses: these include directed research, directed study (1 maximum), or seminar (1 maximum).

II. WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

  • Post-Master degree students must officially take the exam in January during their first year in residence at Boston University.
  • A single early attempt ("free shot") may be taken by all students immediately upon entering the program in August of the first year.

III. ORAL QUALIFYING EXAMINATION

  • Within one calendar year after completion of the Comprehensive Examination, but no later than May of the second year.

IV. INTERIM PROGRESS REPORT

V. DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR

VI. PhD DISSERTATION AND DEFENSE

  • In addition to the courses listed above, first year students are required to take the one-credit courses GRS PY 961 and 962, Scholarly Methods in Physics. Students who serve as Teaching Fellows are required to take the two-credit course GRS PY 699, Teaching College Physics, each semester that they teach.