After passing the Qualifying Examination, the doctoral student must select a field of specialization. A faculty committee is formed, chaired by the research adviser, to evaluate the student's progress in these matters and to establish an appropriate program of coursework. This committee then administers the Comprehensive Examination.
The Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam is an oral exam designed to equally assess:
- The student's grasp of physics at the 6000 level, especially (but not exclusively) the physics needed for dissertation research in the chosen area.
- The student's preparedness to do dissertation research.
The exam shall be taken no later than the end of the summer after the student's third full academic year in the Ph.D. program. An extension can be requested via petition in extenuating circumstances.