Department of Physics and Astronomy



For the Doctor of Philosophy Degree, a student must complete a total of 90 hours of graduate credit including the following:

  • Required courses:

- PHYS 6/7220 (Classical Mechanics)
- PHYS 6/7250 and 6/7260 (Classical Electrodynamics I and II)
- PHYS 6/7320 and 6/7330 (Quantum Mechanics I and II)
- PHYS 6/7450 (Statistical Mechanics)
- MATH 6730 (Methods of Mathematical Physics II). Students, who have not taken the equivalent of Methods of Mathematical Physics I, will need to take that course first.

  • 18 additional hours of credit in Physics courses numbered higher than 6200 as approved by the student's committee.
  • 30-48 hours of PHYS 8960 (Ph.D. Thesis Research).
  • Credit in PHYS 6/8010, 6/8020, 6/7030, or 7910 will not count toward degree requirements.

The doctoral degree requirements include a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, a Comprehensive Examination, and a Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense). Passing the Qualifying Examination is a prerequisite for status as a Ph.D. candidate in physics. It is normally taken at the beginning of the fall semester, one year after entry and may normally be repeated once, the following January. The complete policy on the exam is available here (PDF, 32 KB).

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:

  • 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.
  • Assess the student's preparedness to do dissertation research. The time spent in the exam should be divided approximately equally between these goals.

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.

After the student completes the Comprehensive Examination, only the research requirement remains. The graduate program ends with the presentation of the dissertation and its satisfactory defense in an oral examination.



A degree concentration provides students with certification that they have expertise in a sub-field of physics. A concentration for which a student has satisfied the requirements and for which the student has successfully applied before graduation is recorded in the student's transcript at graduation. It does not appear on the diploma.

Ph. D. in Physics with Concentration in Astrophysics

The Ph. D. in physics with concentration in astrophysics satisfies all the requirements for the Ph. D. in physics while preparing students for a career in astronomy and astrophysics.

Instead of the requirement of 18 hours of credit in physics courses numbered above 6200, this concentration requires:

  • PHYS 6/7810-20-30-40 (Stellar Astrophysics I and II, Galactic Astronomy I and II)
  • Two related elective courses, which may include: PHYS 6/7710 (Atomic Physics), PHYS 6/7720 (Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy), PHYS 6/7740 (Nuclear Physics), PHYS 8860 (General Relativity), PHYS 8870 (Cosmology), or other appropriate courses

 In addition, the Astrophysics concentration requires:

  • Three hours of PHYS 6/8980 (Special Topics) on an astrophysics-related topic or PHYS 6/8890 (Current Issues in Astrophysics)
  • A satisfactory dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics with a supervisor who is a member of the Ritter Astrophysical Research Center

 The following descriptions are taken from the Graduate School catalog for 2006-2008.

Ph. D. in Physics with Concentration in Materials Science

The Ph. D. in physics with concentration in materials science satisfies all the requirements for the Ph. D. in physics while preparing students for a career in materials science.

 This concentration requires:

  • Two core courses in the fundamentals of materials science:

    -PHYS 8540 Structure, Defects and Diffusion
    -PHYS 8550 Thermodynamics and Phase Transformation in Condensed Systems;

  • Two additional elective courses in materials science and engineering chosen from a list of courses approved by the faculty of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering; and
  • A dissertation in a materials-related field with a supervisor who is a member of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering.

Ph. D. in Physics with Concentration in Medical Physics

The Ph. D. in physics with concentration in medical physics satisfies all of the degree requirements for a Ph. D. in physics while preparing students for a career in medical physics. The medical physics-related courses, which total at least 27 credit hours, are provided through the UT College of Medicine. The student’s faculty advisory committee will consist of faculty members from the department of physics and astronomy and the medical physics fields. The committee may also include other members appropriate for this degree. A dissertation research project is chosen that will have relevance to both physics and medical physics. The Ph. D. requirement of 18 additional credit hours outside the core courses will be satisfied by the specified additional graduate courses in physics and in medical physics (College of Medicine).

Graduate Program

Last Updated: 3/22/15