Graduate Program Information

 

Master's Degree Specific | Ph.D Specific | Electives | Graduate Examinations | Financial Aid Guidelines | Housing Information

Master's Degree Program

The Department of Physics grants the Master of Science Degree under two options: Plan-A (thesis required), and Plan-B (without thesis).

Plan-A Requirements:

1. Coursework:

A minimum of 20 credits of acceptable course work is required, which shall include the following:
PHSX 594-01 Teaching Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 594-15 Research Introduction Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 501 Advanced Classical Mechanics - 3 credits
PHSX 506 Quantum Mechanics I - 3 credits
PHSX 519 Electromagnetic Theory I - 3 credits
PHSX 566 Mathematical Physics - 3 credits
Electives See electives - 6 credits 

2. Thesis:

An acceptable thesis and at least 10 credits of PHSX 590 are required.

3. Examinations:

A written comprehensive examination is required. A final oral examination is also required, covering the thesis and related areas.

Plan-B Requirements:

1. Coursework:

A minimum of 30 credits of acceptable course work is required, which shall be distributed as follows:
PHSX 500 Teaching Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 500 Research Introduction Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 501 Advanced Classical Mechanics - 3 credits
PHSX 506 & 507 Quantum Mechanics I & II - 6 credits
PHSX 519 & 520 Electromagnetic Theory I & II - 6 credits
PHSX 566 Mathematical Physics - 3 credits
Electives - 10 credits

2. Thesis Requirements:

None.

3. Examinations:

A written comprehensive examination is required.

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Ph.D. Program

Requirements:

1. Course:

A minimum of 40 credits of acceptable course work is required, which shall include the following:
PHSX 500 Teaching Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 500 Research Introduction Seminar - 1 credit
PHSX 501 Advanced Classical Mechanics - 3 credits
PHSX 506 & 507 Quantum Mechanics I & II - 6 credits
PHSX 519 & 520 Electromagnetic Theory I & II - 6 credits
PHSX 535 Statistical Mechanics - 3 credits
PHSX 566 & 567 Mathematical Physics - 6 credits
Electives - 14 credits

2. Thesis:

An acceptable thesis is required. A minimum of 20 credits of PHSX 690 is required in addition to the courses listed above 

3. Examinations:

A written comprehensive examination is required. A final oral examination is also required, covering the thesis and related areas.

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Electives Requirements

All elective courses must be approved by the student’s Graduate Committee and the Physics Department Head. This approval will ensure that the electives represent a coherent block of study of substantial relevance to Physics. The following limitations normally apply to Elective Courses which may be listed on the Graduate Program for the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in Physics:

A. No more than half of the Elective credits in the above Course Requirements may be at the 400 level in a student’s Graduate Program for any graduate degree in Physics. The remaining Elective credits must be at the 500 level.

B. The Electives will include courses in Physics and minor or supporting fields. At least half of the elective credits must be in Physics.

C. PHSX 461, 490R, 492, 494, 589, 590, 689, and 690 cannot be used as Electives in any Physics Graduate Program.

D. PHSX 570 is allowed as an Elective to a maximum of 3 credits for an M.S. Program and 6 credits for a Ph.D. Program.

E. No more than 2 credits of non-required seminar courses are applicable as Electives in any Physics Graduate Program.

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Graduate Examinations

General Requirements

One written examination is given every year in the last half of August. It serves both as the M.S. Comprehensive Examination and as part of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination.  The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination also includes an oral examination.  A Final Examination on the thesis and related topics is required for the Plan A M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. All students must take the written examination within one year of entering. The results of the written examination may be applied to both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs. The written examination may be repeated once, the next time it is offered. Students must select an M.S. or Ph.D. committee and file the appropriate program form during the Spring Semester before taking this examination. Postponement of the written examination is granted only in exceptional cases. Requests for postponement must be submitted to the Graduate Committee no later than April 1st by both the student and the advisor. For both the Ph.D. and Plan A M.S. degrees, a final oral examination is conducted by the student’s Graduate Committee. This examination takes place after the thesis has been submitted and covers the thesis and related topics.

M.S. Comprehensive Examination

  • A student attempting to obtain the M.S. degree is allowed two attempts to pass this written examination at the M.S. Comprehensive level.
  • A student who has passed the Ph.D. written Comprehensive Examination will be deemed to have passed the M.S. Comprehensive Examination.

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

The written and oral portions of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination are considered separate examinations, and each must be passed separately. The written Comprehensive Examination is a test of physics principles and their comprehension and application in solving a carefully chosen set of problems. It is a test of principles, which any physics graduate student embarking on advanced coursework and thesis research must know and be able to apply. The written examination consists of ten problems, drawn from typical undergraduate course work and from the first-year graduate core courses including: quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, classical mechanics, mathematical methods, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. The oral portion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination will be administered by the student’s Ph.D. committee.   Students pursuing a Ph.D. must take the oral examination during their first semester in the Ph.D. program, normally within one academic year after passing the written examination. The student’s Ph.D. Committee must approve the topic for a short talk to be presented by the student at the beginning of the oral portion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination. The topic, which must be new to the student, should be determined by the student and approved by the committee as early as possible after the written exam is passed, to insure adequate time for the student to study and prepare for the oral exam. The talk will be followed by questions on the talk and other topics. Committee members must participate in the oral examination.  If failed, the oral examination may be repeated once, six to nine months later. The Physics Department administers its comprehensive exam in two parts. A written examination on general Physics principles is followed by an oral examination administered by the student’s committee. According to the Degree Requirements of the Graduate School, the results of any department’s comprehensive examination “[are] valid for five (5)* years from the term of successful completion.”  When the successful results of a student’s Physics comprehensive exam are deemed to have lapsed, the student’s graduate committee will administer an ad hoc re-examination. This will take the form of an oral exam by the entire committee and will serve to re-validate the results of the entire Physics comprehensive examination. The content of the exam will be set by the committee, and may focus on topics relevant to the student’s thesis research. The oral exam may be counted as the annual meeting of the student’s committee required by the Physics Department. If it occurs, it must occur before the student schedules a thesis defense and a passing result in the re-examination is required prior to scheduling the thesis defense. 

*The Physics Department has an exception to this policy which allows validation for six (6) years from the term of successful completion (per Dr. Karlene Hoo, Graduate School, 2/13/15).

Final Oral Examination

For both the Ph.D. and Plan A M.S. degrees, a Final Oral Examination is conducted by the student’s Graduate Committee. This examination takes place after the thesis has been submitted and covers the thesis and related topics.

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Financial Aid Guidelines

Most students admitted to advanced degree programs in the Physics Department are awarded financial aid, in the form of research and teaching assistantships, fellowships, and fee waivers. To receive financial aid, a student must satisfy the requirements of the Graduate School as listed on their webpage, as well as requirements of the Physics Department given below.  Satisfaction of these requirements does not guarantee financial aid, although it is the policy of the Physics Department to support as many qualified graduate students as permitted by the available resources.  Limited financial assistance is offered in the summer.  For foreign students, continuation of financial aid beyond the first year is contingent upon satisfactory performance in spoken English as well.   

  • Credit Requirements:
  • Students receiving financial aid must be registered for a minimum of 9 credits during the academic year, unless instructed otherwise by the Department Head.  Exception: during the year in which a student plans to establish residency, domestic students may register for 6 credits in order to earn state residency. This will typically occur during a student’s 3rd or 4th academic year.
  •  Grade Requirement:
  • Financial aid may be revoked if a student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below 3.0; graduate standing may also be removed in this case (see webpage that follows). http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/policy/grades_academicstanding.html.  The Department of Physics defines a passing grade for required graduate level classes to be a B- or better. A student receiving a C+ or lower is considered to have failed the required class and must retake the class when it is next offered.  Questions regarding this policy should be brought to the Department Head.  (Revised 11/15)

  • M.S. Candidates:

    Candidates for the degree of M.S. in Physics will generally be granted a maximum of two years of financial aid including summers. Note that all specific course requirements for this degree can be satisfied in one year.  Exception: students selecting the Plan A (thesis) option may apply for research assistantships for up to one academic year beyond the second year of study; generally, teaching assistantships will not be awarded after the second year.

  • Ph.D. Candidates:
    Financial aid will be continued beyond two years only if the written Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam is passed at the Ph.D. level by the second attempt.

Housing Information

A variety of housing is available. The University has residence hall rooms for single students, and apartments and houses are available for married students. Ample off-campus housing of all types is available. However, housing should be arranged at least a month before school begins in the fall. Family and graduate housing information is available at their web site, http://www.montana.edu/fgh

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