Baylor University
Department of Physics
College of Arts and Sciences

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Course Planner


Course Guide for the Graduate Student

The Physics Ph.D. program at Baylor is based on a general plan of two years of intensive coursework following by research leading to a Ph.D. Dissertation. The following is a brief outline of the program to aid incoming students. First year is usually composed of the core courses. (Since the core courses typically should be completed in the first year, there is little flexibility in the course scheduling.)

First Year Recommended Course Plan
Fall Term (10 hrs)

5320 Classical Mechanics I (3 hrs)

5360 Mathematical Physics I (3 hrs)

5370 Quantum Mechanics I (3 hrs)

5180 Graduate Physics Colloquium (1 hr)


Spring Term (10 hrs)

5330 Electromagnetic Theory I (3 hrs)

5340 Statistical Mechanics (3 hrs)

5371 Quantum Mechanics II (3 hrs)

5180 Graduate Physics Colloquium (1 hr)


Prelim Exam

The Prelim Exam is taken for the first time in August preceding the second year in the program. This is an important part of graduate studies. Passing the exam demonstrates mastery of Physics through the undergraduate and first-year graduate levels.

The Prelim Exam consists of four parts.

I. Classical Mechanics

II. Quantum Mechanics

III. Electricity and Magnetism

IV. Mathematical methods, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

The Prelim Exam must be passed to remain in the Ph.D. program. Two attempts, once a year for the first two years, are the maximum allowed.


Second Year Recommended Course Plan

In the second year there is more flexibility in the course work. Other than the Graduate Colloquium only one core courses remains: Phy 5331-Electromagnetic Theory II. Beyond this course, electives may be taken to suit your interests.

Typically the second year course work would consist of the following:

Fall (10hrs)

5331 Electromagnetic Theory II (3 hrs)

5180 Graduate Physics Colloquium (1 hr)

6 hrs of electives (see below)

Spring (10 hrs)

5180 Graduate Physics Colloquium (1 hr)

9 hrs of electives see below


Below are examples of electives based on research interest [the course catalog contains a complete list of courses]:

Upper Undergraduate Courses For which Graduate Credit is Given

[Note: up to 6 hours of undergraduate courses, courses below 5000, can be applied to your Ph.D. degree]

4360 Computer Models in Physics

4372 Introductory Solid State Physics

4373 Introductory Nuclear and Particle Physics

4374 Introduction to Relativistic Quantum Mechanics


Graduate Electives

5342 Solid State Physics

5351 General Relativity

5352 Space Plasma Physics

5361 Mathematical Physics II

6370 Advanced Quantum Mechanics

6371 Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

6372 Elementary Particle Physics

6373 Quantum Field Theory I

6374 Quantum Field Theory II

6375 Quantum Field Theory III


Dissertation Research

In addition to the coursework during the first two years it is extremely beneficial to become familiar with the current research activities of the department. Once a student is interested in an area of study they may become involved that group and begin participating in research as the current situation allows. Formally Ph.D. dissertation research can begin after the Qualifying exam is passed. Research is unpredictable by nature, so there is no step-by-step guide. However, certain milestones and formal procedures are required. The formal process is as follows

  1. Each student will work with a graduate faculty member to select a research project for the student's Ph.D. dissertation research. This faculty member will be the student's dissertation advisor.
  2. The student, with the assistance of his/her dissertation advisor, will select a dissertation committee as described in the graduate catalog.
  3. The student will provide a description of the proposed dissertation research to the dissertation committee for approval.
  4. The research is performed and the dissertation written. While there is no set time frame this is generally expected to take two to three years. During this time the student will register for PHY 6V99 Dissertation.

Completion of the degree

Once the dissertation is complete, the student will defend the research to his/her dissertation committee in a public presentation. Upon approval of the dissertation by the student's advisor and dissertation committee, and the Graduate School, the Ph.D. requirements are met and the student may graduate.