Typical Physics Curriculum for Graduate Students

When you enter the Ph.D. program, you will take the Physics Placement Exam as a diagnostic tool. This test is used by the Graduate Academic Advisers to suggest an individualized schedule of classes to you.

In the first three semesters you will typically take Classical Mechanics (PHY820), Quantum Mechanics I and II (PHY851 and PHY852), Classical Electrodynamics I and II (PHY841 and PHY842), Statistical Mechanics (PHY831), Methods of Theoretical Physics (PHY810), and Frontiers in Physics (PHY905).

The final exams in PHY820, PHY831, PHY841, and PHY852 also serve as the Ph.D. candidacy exams.

During your first summer you will work with an NSCL faculty member on an Introduction to Research (PHY800) project.

After you choose your area of research, you ask an NSCL faculty member to become your Academic Advisor. If the faculty member agrees, you can form your Ph.D. guidance committee. The Ph.D. guidance committee determines your coursework in consultation with you. All students at the NSCL take Nuclear Structure (PHY981), Nuclear Dynamics (PHY982), and Nuclear Astrophysics (PHY983). Throughout your graduate career you will need to take 24 credits of Doctoral Dissertation Research (PHY999).

The following table illustrates a possible program for a student who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in nuclear physics (*indicates that the final exam also serves as the Ph.D. candidacy exam; PHY800 and PHY999 are research credits.)

Typical physics curriculum









Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Fall810842982999
820*831*999999
851881
Spring852981983999
841999999
800one optional
Summer999999999