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Graduate Program

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Mission Statement

The mission of the PhD Program in the Department of Physics is to prepare students for a wide range of careers in Physics and the related fields by providing the fundamental knowledge and technical expertise necessary to advance their careers and to perform cutting-edge and internationally recognized research.  Externally funded research is the foundation of our graduate program, which prepares our students for scientific challenges in academia, private industry, and government labs. We promote the advancement of science through publications, public outreach, and other activities within our profession and beyond.  The Physics PhD Program advances the college’s mission to prepare students to become the next generation of intellectual and scientific pioneers through a high-quality liberal arts education, and the university’s mission to enable our students to lead and influence the next generation and beyond for economic, cultural, and societal benefit.

Program Overview

The Department of Physics is dedicated to advancing the forefronts of knowledge in both pure and applied physics, thus providing an exciting intellectual climate for our graduate students. The research activities of our over 50 research faculty members include astrophysics (particle astrophysics, gravitation and cosmology), condensed matter and materials physics (experimental, theoretical, and computational), low temperature physics, high energy physics (experimental and theoretical) and biological physics (experimental and theoretical). With such diversity in research offerings all our 140+ graduate students will have an opportunity to pursue research in many areas of contemporary physics. We are committed to designing a program of graduate study that is tailored to the experience and interests of the students. We are committed to make the Department of Physics a fair, encouraging, collaborative, inclusive, and respectful workplace.

The following table displays the standard schedule for a graduate student in our PhD program. This schedule assumes the student enters our program with a BS degree in physics and continues to make satisfactory progress towards their degree.

YearRecommended ActivityRequirement
Year 1Preliminary Exam
Core Courses
Explorer research opportunities
IDP
Must pass by the end of YR 2
Core Course GPA >= 3.33 (B+)
Begin preliminary research from 1st Summer
Meet the graduate coordinator
Year 2Distribution and Research Courses
Find a research group for thesis work
IDP
Overall GPA >= 3.00 (B)
Form Supervisor Comm. by the end of YR3
Meet graduate coordinator or supervisor
Year 3Research Courses
Qualifying Exam
IDP
Overall GPA >= 3.00 (B)
Must pass by the end of YR 4
Meet supervisor
Year 4+Research Courses
IDP
Overall GPA >= 3.00 (B)
Meet supervisor
Final yearFinal ExamStrongly encouraged to finish by the end of YR 6

Core Courses (Department requirement)

All students must pass each core course unless it is waived by the graduate coordinator (see exceptions below).  There are 6 courses designated as the core courses:  The student must achieve a GPA in these courses of 3.33 (B+ average) or higher by the end of the second year.

Note: The graduate school requires that each graduate student maintains a 3.0 GPA throughout his/her career.

Fall Core CoursesSpring Core Courses
PHY 6246 Classical MechanicsPHY 6347 Electromagnetic Theory II
PHY 6346 Electromagnetic Theory IPHY 6536 Statistical Mechanics
PHY 6645 Quantum Mechanics IPHY 6646 Quantum Mechanics II

Exceptions regarding the core courses

  • Some incoming students will be required to take the English class to be appointed as a TA. To meet the requirement of 9 credits, the student will typically take PHY 6346 (EM I) and PHY 6645 (QM I) in addition to the English class in their first semester and should plan to take PHY 6246 (CM) in the fall of their second year. However, if the student performed well in the Preliminary Exam or the GPA in the following spring semester is adequate, the graduate coordinator may waive the requirement for PHY 6246.
  • Students may not feel prepared enough to take all three courses in one semester. In this case, the student should meet with the graduate coordinator to discuss the course work plan.
  • Students who transferred from other universities, where they have already taken similar graduate level courses, may be eligible for waiver of a subset of the core courses if they fulfill certain conditions. These conditions will be set by the coordinator after a review.

Additional Course Work (Department requirement)

Students are required to take at least three advanced level courses (3 credit courses at 6000-level or higher). Two of these courses must cover two different sub-fields of physics as defined by the first four columns in the table below.  Note that not all courses are listed in the table.  A third course can be from a third sub-field, from a different relevant discipline, or from an already covered sub-field but it must address a different aspect of that sub-field. Exceptions can be made but require prior approval from the graduate coordinator.  It is allowed to take a 6000-level course outside of Physics.  Two 5000-level courses offered outside of Physics can substitute one distribution course.

Fundamental / High Energy PhysicsCondensed Matter PhysicsAstrophysics / GravitationBiophysics / Other TopicsRelated Fields outside Physics
6648 QFT IZ6426 Solid State IZ6607 Special and General Relativity6555C CryogenicsMAP 6506 Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering
7669 QFT IIZ7427 Solid State IIZ7608 Special and General Relativity II7097 Quantum OpticsEEE6397 Semiconductor Device Theory I
Z6355 Elementary Particle Physics IZ7428 Modern Condensed Matter7097 Inflationary Cosmology7097 Introduction to Biological Physics
6358 Standard Model IZ7429 Phases of Condensed Matter7097 Gravitational Waives7097 Machine Learning
7357 Elementary Particle Physics II7097 Advanced Topic in Condensed MatterZ6156 Computational Method in Physics
7359 Standard Model II7097 Optical effects in Solids

Course Number: #### = PHY#### and Z#### = PHZ####

Research and Individual Work Courses

In general, as the years go by, students register for fewer lecture courses. Their 9 credit hours in Fall and Spring and 6 credit hours in Summer are then filled either by seminar courses or by advanced research courses. First year students who have no advisor are recommended to fill any holes in their schedules the first two semesters with three, 1-credit seminar or colloquium courses. Once students have advisors, students need to register for one of the following course numbers:

PHY 6905 Individual Work (maximum 4 credits per semester, letter grade)

PHY 6910 Supervised Research (maximum 5 credits, S/U)

PHY 6971 Master’s Research (6 credits, S/U) This is for students moving to an MS degree with thesis.

PHY 7979 Advanced Research (no limit on credits, S/U) This is the standard research course for students before they pass the qualifying exam.

PHY 7980 Doctoral Research (no limits on credits, S/U) This is the standard research course for students after they pass the qualifying exam.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

An individual development plan (IDP) is an open-ended, student-driven document, created to help you to align your personal and professional goals with your academic expectations and responsibilities. As you pursue your graduate degree, developing and revising a comprehensive plan like the IDP will give you critical information for building the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary for your career, and to prepare you for meaningful personal or professional opportunities after graduation. The IDP is designed to complement the resources your own graduate program will provide, as well as your own mentoring model for student success. As of 2017, all PhD students at UF are required to complete IDP.  You need to have a meeting with your research supervisor (without other committee members) near the end of each year to discuss your progress in the current academic year and the future academic and career plan.  If you have not formed your Supervisory Committee, you should arrange a meeting with the Graduate Coordinator.  The annual SC meeting is replaced by IDP.

  • Complete the fillable IDP form (also available in Canvas) and get the signatures of yourself and the advisor. Please use short sentences and/or bullet points in the form.
  • Upload the form as an Assignment in Canvas by August 1 of each year.
  • If you are graduating during the summer, you do not have to submit IDP.

Research Supervisor and Supervisory Committee 

The student should explore research opportunities within the department as early as possible. This is the responsibility of the student and requires that the student be pro-active.  During YR 2, the main point of contact for the student should slowly shift from the graduate coordinator to their research supervisor. Once a relationship between the student and the supervisor has been established, the student should start forming the Supervisory Committee (SC).

  • The official research supervisor who will chair the Supervisory Committee must be a faculty or an affiliated faculty in Physics with Graduate Faculty position.
  • The student must form the Supervisory Committee by the end of YR 3.

Composition of SC   The SC is chaired by the research supervisor of the student. Four members are required with two of the members part of the department. One of the other two members must be external to the department which excludes all affiliated members well. The fourth member can be from physics or any other department of the university. The graduate coordinator should approve the composition of the committee.

Qualifying Exam

The Qualifying Exam consists of two parts: the written and the oral part.  The student must hold and pass the exam by the end of YR 4.  After 5 years of passing the qualifying exam, the candidate needs to file a petition or redo the qualifying exam to have the final exam for the degree.

Written Part

The written part is typically a 10 – 15 page (double-spaced) document which describes the student’s knowledge of the field, progress to date, and proposed thesis topic and plan.  The written portion must be submitted to the committee at least 10 days before the oral examination is scheduled.

Oral Part

The Department of Physics encourages in-person attendance of all committee members at the Qualifying Exam and the Final Exam.  The entire supervisory committee and student should be present simultaneously at the exam.  The presentation, questions, and responses must be conducted in real time.   However, under circumstances where full in-person participation cannot be arranged in time, the student and at least three committee members including the chair and co-chair must attend the exam in-person, and the rest may attend remotely.  The external member may attend the exam either in-person or remotely.

Proper A/V capability must be set up at the exam to accommodate the committee members who are participating remotely.

The type of attendance for each committee member, either in-person or remote, must be indicated on the exam report form.

6th Year Progress Assessment 

Every PhD student in the Department of Physics is required to meet with the Supervisory Committee in the Spring semester of the 6th year unless the Final Exam is scheduled during the same semester.  For example, a student who enrolled in Fall 2017 must hold this meeting in Spring 2023.  The purpose of this meeting is to review the progress and to help the student finish the thesis in a reasonable time, by establishing a concrete plan. There is no specific format for the meeting.  However, the student and at least 3 committee members including the chair and any co-chair must be present either in person or remotely.  Unlike the Qualifying Exam or the Final Exam, the presence of the external member is not required for this meeting.

It is the student’s responsibility to arrange a meeting with the supervisory committee in the Spring semester of the 6th year.

After the meeting, the completed 6th year progress assessment form must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator (ysl@ufl.edu) by the end of the Spring semester.  The form is available in Canvas / Physics Graduate Program.

Final Exam

The Final Exam also consists of two parts: the written and the oral part.   If the final exam occurs after 5 years of passing the qualifying exam, the candidate needs to file a petition or redo the qualifying exam to have the final exam for the degree.  Please contact the graduate program assistant in advance to avoid any delays.

Written Part

The written portion must be submitted to the committee at least 10 days before the oral examination is scheduled.

Oral Part

The Department of Physics encourages in-person attendance of all committee members at the Qualifying Exam and the Final Exam.  The entire supervisory committee and student should be present simultaneously at the exam.  The presentation, questions, and responses must be conducted in real time.   However, under circumstances where full in-person participation cannot be arranged in time, the student and at least three committee members including the chair and co-chair must attend the exam in-person, and the rest may attend remotely.  The external member may attend the exam either in-person or remotely.

Proper A/V capability must be set up at the exam to accommodate the committee members who are participating remotely.

The type of attendance for each committee member, either in-person or remote, must be indicated on the exam report form.

Final Term Requirements

If the student is entering the final term, please follow the instructions below:

  • Submit an application for degree via ONE.UF for the term in which a degree is to be awarded. Applications must be submitted by published deadlines.
  • Letter of transmittal: Once your dissertation is approved by your advisor, please have the professor email Pam Marlin (pmarlin@ufl.edu) their approval and the letter of transmittal will be entered in the system. The letter of transmittal must be processed before first submission of dissertation to the editorial office.
  • Meet the first submission deadline. Even if you are unable to graduate in the preferred semester, this allows you to “Clear Prior.” For international students, the Clear Prior Final Clearance deadline is, for immigration purposes, the date the student completes the degree and is the date the grace period begins. It is crucial to fully aware of this: Clear Prior for International Students.
  • Reserve a room for the exam in 2205, 2260 or 2165 NPB by contacting the main office.
  • Send the title, date, location and time of your defense a week in advance to Pam Marlin so the paperwork can be prepared, and an announcement made.
  • It is your responsibility to monitor all graduate school and editorial office final semester deadlines, there are no exceptions if a deadline is missed. Editorial Calendar
  • Before you leave, return the office and building keys.
  • Update your contact information in my.ufl.edu. This will be the address where the final diploma will be sent.