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Department of Physics

  Learning Objectives

  The purpose of the Physics graduate program is to equip students with advanced fundamentals, advanced training, and expert-level knowledge of specific areas of physics via coursework and research activities, thus preparing them for careers in government, academia, or industry, as well as for entry into a subsequent graduate program, for teaching at all levels, and for any careers utilizing pure and applied scientific research.  Physics graduate students become proficient in scientific communication by written and oral dissemination of physics knowledge and research, particularly in their own area of specialization.

To accomplish these goals all the programs begin with a required curriculum of advanced coursework, followed by a period of 1-4 years of intensive research and self-education, culminating in the MS thesis or PhD dissertation.

The physics MS has two options: Plan A produces a research thesis, Plan B produces a report.  The PhD is a general physics PhD, with specialization occurring in the usual way via the research topic. The detailed procedures and requirements for each of the degrees can be found here: Physics MS Handbook, Physics PhD Handbook

The graduate programs each lead to professional level expertise and involve a student contributing new knowledge to the field of specialization via the thesis or dissertation. This creation of new knowledge by the student is the principal outcome of the graduate program. The distinction between the MS and PhD degrees is principally the level of professional proficiency obtained and the significance of the new knowledge created.
The learning objectives
for the program are as follows.

Foundational Skills in Physics

Each student will achieve a mastery of physics theory and phenomenology at a level required for their chosen profession. Students build foundations and gain breadth by taking courses both required and elective. Courses that contribute to this outcome are to be found in the
Physics MS Handbook, Physics PhD Handbook. The most important outcome here is that students will be prepared to acquire from the literature and/or teach themselves physics as needed in subsequent education and professional activities.

Research Skills and Creation of New Knowledge in Physics

Each student will pursue research in the chosen field of specialization. In so doing the student acquires professional-level knowledge and expertise in his/her chosen area of specialization. The appropriate area of research and the appropriate level of accomplishment here is determined in collaboration with a faculty mentor who is an acknowledged expert in the area of specialization.  A research supervisory committee, chaired by the faculty mentor provides additional support in setting goals and assessing outcomes.

Communication and Professional Preparation in Physics

Each student will become an expert in scientific exposition. This is accomplished via documentation and dissemination of the results of his/her research via a written thesis/dissertation which is prepared according to the professional standards of his/her area of specialization. The research results are also presented orally in one or more venues, particularly the thesis or dissertation defenses.