Exams

Pre-admission Examinations

Applicants are required to submit Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test scores and are strongly encouraged to take the GRE subject test in physics. The GRE should be taken no later than October for scores to be available for admissions review.

Applicants whose native language is not English must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and receive a score of at least 550. An exception to the TOEFL requirement is made for students who have studied for two years at a university in an English-speaking country or received an undergraduate degree from such a university. The TOEFL should be taken no later than November for scores to be available for admissions review.

Ph.D. Examinations

Three exams are required of students in the Applied Physics program. The first of these is the Qualifying "Q" Exam, which measures the student’s grasp of fundamentals in the five core subject areas as well as in experimental physics. This written exam is normally taken after two terms of study have been completed. Upon passing this exam, the student moves on to more advanced courses of study.

The Admission to Candidacy "A" Exam is an oral exam that further tests the student’s competence in core physics and mathematics as well as the minor area of study. It also examines the student’s preparation for beginning full-time research in a particular area of applied physics. This exam is administered by the student’s special committee. It is typically taken in the second or third year of studies. Upon successful completion of both exams, the student is awarded a master’s degree and formally admitted into the Ph.D. program.

The student then undertakes a project of original research and writes a thesis. In the Final "B" Examination, the student makes an oral defense of this thesis at a hearing administered by the special committee. A successful defense and approval of the written thesis are the final steps in fulfilling the degree requirements for a Ph.D. in applied physics.

The total time required to earn a doctorate in applied physics generally ranges from five to six years, depending on a student’s preparation and research topic.