Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy - University of Houston
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Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

To receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics, a student must satisfy all following requirements:

Course Requirements

  1. Successful completion of a minimum of 54 semester hours for which graduate credit is accepted by the Department of Physics. These 54 hours must include courses that satisfy Basic Core, Advanced Core, and Advanced Elective courses.
  2. Basic Core Requirements: All of the following courses:
    1. Physics 6313 - Methods of Mathematical Physics (formerly Physics 6303) (Credit Hours: 3)
    2. Physics 6319 - Advanced Mechanics I (formerly Physics 6309) (Credit Hours: 3)
    3. Physics 6315 - Quantum Mechanics I (Credit Hours: 3)
    4. Physics 6316 - Quantum Mechanics II (Credit Hours: 3)
    5. Physics 6321 - Electrodynamics (Credit Hours: 3)
    6. Physics 6327 - Statistical Physics (Credit Hours: 3)
  3. Advanced Core/Elective Requirements: Four courses with a minimum of two from the Advanced Core list below. At most, one of the remaining classes can be outside of the department with permission from the Chair of the Dissertation Committee and the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee. Advanced Core courses include:
    1. Physics 6354 - Methods of Mathematical Physics II (Credit Hours: 3)
    2. Physics 6363 - Graduate Laboratory (Credit Hours: 3)
    3. Physics 6328 - Advanced Statistical Mechanics (Credit Hours: 3)
    4. Physics 6350 - Computational Physics (Credit Hours: 3)
    5. Physics 6365 - Quantum Many-Body Theory (Credit Hours: 3)
    6. Physics 6366 - Quantum Field Theory (Credit Hours: 3)
    7. Physics 6387 - Solid State Physics I (Credit Hours: 3)
  4. Advanced Elective courses will be offered at regular intervals. These are typically expositions of topics of current interest. The student body will be polled to find their choices approximately a year before an Advanced Elective is offered; the department will attempt to fulfill the student wishes. Some electives offered in recent years include:
    1. General Relativity and Gravitation
    2. Solid State Physics II
    3. Atmospheric Physics
    4. Particle Physics
    5. Biological Physics
    6. Scattering Theory
    7. Seismic Physics I and II
    8. Physics and Application of Semiconductors
    9. Optics
  5. Prior to and following achieving Ph.D. candidacy, all full-time students are required to register for at least 9 credit hours of courses each semester. The only (one-time) exception is the last semester prior to graduation, when they can register for 3 credit hours.
  6. Selection and sequencing of courses MUST be discussed in meetings at least once each semester with the Graduate/Dissertation Advisor. The Graduate Studies Committee will select a Faculty Mentor for each incoming student, who will serve as the Graduate Advisor, until a Dissertation Advisor has been selected, from which point they will serve as the student's Advisor.
  7. Taking courses outside the Department of Physics is an option only available to students who are in a research group. All selections outside of the category c above requires prior approval of the student’s Dissertation Advisor, the Chairman of the Graduate Studies Committee, and the Chairman of the Physics Department. At most, one class outside the department is allowed to count toward the Advanced Core.

Qualification for Ph.D. Candidacy

  1. Full-time students must advance to candidacy to Ph.D. no later than 2 years after entry into the Ph.D. program (for part-time students, the equivalent requirement is within the first 36 hours of graduate coursework). No comprehensive examination is given by the Department of Physics. Instead, to advance to candidacy, a student must (i) take all six Basic Core courses and earn a grade of B or better in each one as well as in the final exam within two attempts, and (ii) earn such a grade at the first attempt in at least four (4) of the six Basic Core courses. A student who earns less than a B grade in three (3) or more Basic Core courses at the first attempt will be dismissed from the program due to failure to advance to candidacy. If the failure is due to extenuating circumstances, the student can appeal the decision to the Graduate Studies Committee.
  2. With approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, students who feel that they possess an adequate knowledge of a Basic Core course may simply take, and pass with a grade of B or better, an exam of the course to be given approximately a week prior to the beginning of the semester. However, it is counted as one of the two attempts at qualification and the student will be required to take the class the following semester.
  3. Any requests for deviation from these requirements must be made in writing to the Graduate Studies Committee.

Original Research Requirements

  1. An acceptable dissertation based on original research in Physics must be presented and defended orally before the student’s Doctoral Dissertation Committee. Copies of the final draft of the dissertation must be given to the members of the Committee prior to the deadline published on the NSM Graduate webpage. The student must provide copies of the final draft to the Committee at least two weeks (preferably one month) prior to the defense. Written announcement of the dissertation defense must be sent to the Physics Graduate Faculty at least one week prior to the date of the defense.
  2. Students should select a Dissertation Advisor (Research Advisor), ideally before the second semester of graduate work has been completed, but absolutely before the beginning of the student’s third academic year. Shortly after a Dissertation Advisor has been selected, a Dissertation Committee must be selected. The student and the Advisor should jointly select the Committee. The Dissertation Committee must consist of the Dissertation Advisor, at least two (typically three) additional graduate faculty members from the Physics Department, and at least one UH faculty member from outside the department. A list of the committee members must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval and for subsequent approval by the Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
  3. Students must assemble their Dissertation Committee within the first semester after they pass all of the Ph.D. Core courses listed above, or at the beginning of their third academic year whichever comes first. A Dissertation Committee must be on file with the department by Year 3 and with the College no later than the semester prior to the anticipated graduating semester.
  4. Annual Progress Evaluation (APE): Before the end of the student’s third academic year, AND IN EACH SUBSEQUENT ACADEMIC YEAR, the student must make an oral presentation to their Dissertation Committee. The Committee must certify that the student is making adequate progress toward completion of their Ph.D. in a timely manner.
  5. Any requests for deviation from these requirements, or any special considerations, must be made in writing to the Graduate Studies Committee.

Additional Requirements

  1. While working on the dissertation, a student should enroll in a Doctoral Research Physics 8X98 course (X represents the credit hours). The student must maintain continuous enrollment during his/her entire Ph.D. career. The enrollment requirement for those holding student VISAs is 9 credit hours for each long semester (except in the graduating semester when a one-time request for a reduced course load can be made). If the student does not receive GTF and/or RA/TA Waiver, he/she can enroll for 3 credit hours during the semester. While it is generally not essential for students to register for a course during summer, the College may require them to do so some years. In the final semester, the student must register in Doctoral Dissertation Physics 8X99 (X must be at least 3) if he/she plans to graduate.
  2. The original copy of the dissertation with the Graduate School approval form must be given to the Graduate Office of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
  3. Other requirements may be mandated by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and/or the University.


  1. All graduate students are required to attend the weekly Physics Department Colloquium. More than two absences (per semester) without an approved excuse may result in a loss of financial support. Students in their last semester will be excused from the requirement.