Physics Doctoral Program Curriculum Overview

Doctoral students in physics conduct exciting and cutting-edge research with faculty who are leaders in their fields. Students study applications in various areas of technology and physical science and are kept abreast of the latest experimental and theoretical innovations in these areas. The program offers a varied curriculum with broad training in diverse areas and highly specialized courses.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 84 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree is required for the Ph.D. degree. Required coursework represents at least 18 credits. At least 12 of the remaining 66 credits must be for the Ph.D. research (PEP 960). Ph.D. candidates are required to have competency in using computer-based methods of calculation and analysis. Students lacking this competency are encouraged to take PEP 520 Computational Physics, or equivalent. The preliminary requirements for the doctorate are regarded not as ends in themselves, but rather as preparation for the dissertation in which the student demonstrates ability.

Each Ph.D. curriculum must also adhere to the institute wide standards listed in the academic catalog.

If you have existing graduate credits or experience in this area of study, please contact [email protected] to discuss opportunities to include it in the curriculum.

For students entering with a master's degree:

Applicants with the equivalent of the Stevens Master of Science in physics degree are eligible to take the qualifying exam immediately and become candidates without additional course requirements. Nevertheless, they have to fulfill all described requirements including doctoral coursework, research, any core courses of the Stevens Master of Science in physics not taken during their previous master's degree, and a total of 54 credits beyond the master's degree.

Applicants with a non-physics master's degree may be required to complete sufficient coursework to meet the requirements for a physics degree in addition to the remaining doctoral requirements outlined above. The details of the makeup work are determined by the department's Graduate Academic Standards and Curriculum committee. For more information, visit the Office of Graduate Academics.

Core Courses

In addition to the core courses required in the 30-credit Master of Science degree in physics (PEP 642, PEP 643, PEP 644, PEP 554, PEP 528, PEP 555, and PEP 510 and one 600-level advanced quantum mechanics course), completion of the following coursework will be required for the Ph.D.:

  • PEP 667 Statistical Mechanics

The following course requirements must also be met:

  • One 600-level quantum mechanics application course
  • Two 700-level courses chosen in consultation with an academic advisor
  • Three Ph.D. signature credits (can be in one or multiple approved courses)

Qualifying Examination

Doctoral candidates must pass a qualifying examination, which consists of two oral examinations. The first oral examination tests mastery of a set of core physics topics, while the second oral examination tests the student's ability to discuss physics problems and current research topics with an examining committee of three faculty members. Candidates have two opportunities to pass each examination. The first attempt must be made within the first two years of study at Stevens. Upon successful completion of both examinations, they become qualified Ph.D. candidates.

Doctoral Dissertation and Advisory Committee

Within six weeks after passing the qualification examination, a Ph.D. advisory committee shall be formed for each Ph.D. student, consisting of a major advisor on the physics department faculty, an additional physics department faculty member, and a third Stevens faculty member from any department other than physics. Additional committee members from Stevens or elsewhere may also be included.

Students carry out an original research program under the supervision of the major advisor and advisory committee. The results of the research will be presented in a written dissertation. Upon approval of the advisory committee, the written dissertation will be defended by the student in an oral defense.