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Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy

The University's basic requirements for the Ph.D. are discussed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin. The minimum department requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Physics consist of completing all courses listed below, plus 290 and 294 and at least one quarter from each of two subject areas (among biophysics, condensed matter, quantum optics and atomic physics, astrophysics and gravitation, and nuclear and particle physics) chosen from courses with numbers above 232, except 290 and 294. The requirements in the following list may be fulfilled by passing the course at Stanford or passing an equivalent course elsewhere: 210 or 211, 212, 220, 221, 230, 231. A grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (B) is required for courses taken toward the degree.

All Ph.D. candidates must have math proficiency equivalent to the following Stanford math courses: 106, 113, 114, 116, 131, 132.

Prior to making an application for candidacy, each student is required to pass a comprehensive qualifying examination on undergraduate physics. This closed book exam is given in the month of January following the student's arrival at Stanford. This is a written examination held over two days, covering particle mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, special relativity, and general physics. A thesis proposal must be submitted during the third year. In order to assess the direction and progress toward a thesis, an oral report and evaluation are required during the fourth year. After completion of the dissertation, each student must take the University oral examination (defense of dissertation).

Three quarters of teaching (including a demonstrated ability to teach) are a requirement for obtaining the Ph.D. in Physics.

Students interested in applied physics and biophysics research should also take note of the Ph.D. granted independently by the Department of Applied Physics and by the Biophysics Program. Students interested in astronomy, astrophysics, or space science should also consult the "Astronomy Course Program" section of this bulletin.

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