Jan 17, 2021  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2009-2011 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2009-2011 [Archived Catalog]

Physics and Astronomy (Ph.D.)

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Degree Programs

Graduate study and research leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree are offered in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The research activities of the department are broad and currently include nuclear and particle physics, condensed matter and surface physics, biophysics and astrophysics. Both experimental and theoretical studies are in progress in these areas. Interdisciplinary and inter-departmental programs of study are also possible.

Expected Student Preparation

Students entering the degree programs are normally expected to have successfully concluded undergraduate work in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, and should also possess a working knowledge of mathematics including calculus, ordinary differential equations, Fourier series, vector analysis, and the elements of partial differential equations. It is recommended that applicants take the Graduate Record Examination, including the advanced test for physics. Deficiencies of undergraduate preparation should not deter a prospective student with an otherwise good record, as these may be made up during the first year of graduate study.

Application Deadlines

There are no specific application deadlines, but most applications for financial aid are received by March 1 and most offers are made by April 15. Most students enter the physics program in the fall; although some enter the preceding summer session. Entry during the academic year is possible although not generally encouraged. For all details concerning graduate programs, write to the Physics Graduate Committee.

Degree Requirements

General Requirements
Participation in the weekly colloquium, PHYS 891, is required of all graduate students. Participation in one of the area-specific seminar series and in special topics course offerings is encouraged.

Course Requirements

Students in pursuit of a Ph.D. in physics are required to pass the core set of courses (PHYS 512, 605, 607, 608, 611, 612, and 615) with a B (3.0) GPA. First and second year graduate students consult with assigned advisors to determine a program of study. Course requirements may be waived with adequate evidence of equivalent work elsewhere. In addition to the core courses, Ph.D. students must take a graduate level laboratory course (ASTR 510, PHYS 531, 601, 604) and seven of the following courses: ASTR 501, 502, 503, PHYS 503, 520, 523, 553, 561, 571, and non-core courses numbered 600 and higher. Research courses PHYS 696 and 895 are excluded from this list. At least one of the seven courses must be in an area outside the student’s area of specialization. Courses or Labs offered by other departments may substitute for a limited number of these requirements with the approval of the student’s advisor and the Graduate Chair. Typically a student would take the core courses in their First Year of graduate study, and would do so in the following order:


Fall Winter Spring
(551 Quantum Physics) 611 Quantum Mechanics 612 Quantum Mechanics
605 Classical Mechanics 607 Electrodynamics 608 Electrodynamics
(516 Math. Physics)/Lab 615 Math. Methods 512 Stat. Mechanics





Students requiring additional preparation in statistical mechanics, mathematical methods, or quantum mechanics are advised to take PHYS 511, PHYS 516, or PHYS 551; however, these “pre-core” courses do not count toward the seven required courses.

Qualification for Ph.D. Candidacy

At the end of a student’s first year of graduate study, his/her suitability for Ph.D. candidacy will be evaluated by the full Physics & Astronomy faculty. This evaluation will be based primarily on the student’s GPA in the seven core courses (see above). As a general guide, a core-course GPA of 3.3 or higher might qualify the student to proceed to research work directed towards a Ph.D. dissertation. However, additional considerations, such as performance as a teaching and/or research assistant will also be taken into account when the faculty assesses the student’s readiness for Ph.D. candidacy. Students who are fulfilling the minimum requirement of a GPA above 3.0 for remaining in the graduate program, but are not recommended for Ph.D. candidacy by the faculty, will be asked to complete a research project with a faculty member and obtain an M.S. degree by thesis (see above) within one year. If they complete this M.S. they will be reconsidered for Ph.D. candidacy by the full faculty.

Dissertation Prospectus and Formation of the Dissertation Committee

After achieving Ph.D. candidacy, students form a Dissertation Committee in consultation with their research advisor. Students must prepare a Dissertation Prospectus for approval by this committee within eighteen months of being admitted to candidacy. The Prospectus is typically 10-20 pages long. It should be produced in consultation with the student’s research advisor, but must be written by the student him/herself. The Prospectus should set the proposed Dissertation in the context of related scholarly activities, outline the shape of the research that will ultimately form the student’s Ph.D. work, and demonstrate its feasibility. Therefore the document should: (a) contain some discussion of relevant literature; (b) provide a summary of any research results the student has already obtained which are part of his/her Ph.D. work; (c) lay out plans for the research that will form the rest of the Dissertation; and (d) describe an approximate time line for completion of the Ph.D.

The student will defend the Dissertation Prospectus in front of their Dissertation Committee after the Committee has had at least one week to consider the document. At that time the student will discuss with the Committee any questions or concerns that they may have. The Committee may then either approve the Prospectus, or, if they have substantial concerns, ask the student—in consultation with his/her advisor—to revise the document and re-submit it for the Committee’s later consideration and approval. The final dissertation need not exactly follow the plans layed out in the Prospectus, but once the Prospectus is approved the student’s Dissertation Committee must be informed if plans change substantially. The Graduate Chair may also convene the Dissertation Committee for advice should problems arise.

Dissertation Defense

The remainder of the Ph.D. program consists of research, advanced coursework, and other studies relevant to the Dissertation. Upon completion of the Dissertation, the committee will have at least two weeks to consider and evaluate the document before the student gives a public presentation of the findings. The Ph.D. is awarded following the successful defense of the Dissertation before the Dissertation Committee.


Astrophysics Graduate Study

Students interested in pursuing advanced study and research in astrophysics at Ohio University must fulfill general physics course requirements specified by the department, and are encouraged to complete additional coursework providing a solid background in contemporary astrophysics. A suggested course sequence for the first two years is provided below for students interested in pursuing this option.


First Year:
Fall Winter Spring
(551 Quantum Physics) 611 Quantum Mechanics 612 Quantum Mechanics
605 Classical Mechanics 615 Math. Methods 512 Stat. Mechanics
 516 Math Physics 607 Electrodynamics 608 Electrodynamics
Second Year*: ASTR 501, 502, 503, 510; PHYS 523+, 609+, 617, 623, 650+
+Recommended electives
*501 (Stellar Astrophysics), 502 (Galactic and Interstellar Astrophysics), 503 (Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology), and 510 (Observational Astrophysics) are offered on a rotating basis in the winter and spring quarters; consequently most students will need to take one of these courses in the Fall quarter of their third year.

The Colloquium (891) must be attended by all students.

Students should also plan on participating in PHYS 897F, Astrophysics Research Seminar.

The detailed course of study and choice of electives may be adjusted, based on the student’s level of background and interests. Students wishing to pursue the astrophysics option should meet with Astrophysics faculty for further information and discussion of research possibilities.

Physics and Astronomy Courses

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