Timeline for Satisfactory Ph.D. Progress

The following is the expected timeline for successful completion of a Ph.D. It is never a problem to complete the various milestones early.  Delays or changes require the agreement of the student's academic advisor and/or the Graduate Program Director.

Note that professional development activities, outreach, and participation in campus and departmental organizations are encouraged at all stages of a student's career!

First year

  • Fall semester: P605 Math Methods and P601 Classical Mechanics
  • Spring semester: P614 Quantum I and P606 Classical Electrodynamics

Second year

  • Fall semester: P602 Statistical Mechanics and P615 Quantum Mechanics. At the end of this semester, Qualification in Core Coursework is considered by the faculty. Students with apparent weakness in one or more core areas may be asked to complete additional work.
  • Spring semester: Initiate work with a research group and take one or two research area courses.
  •  Summer: Students are required to have chosen a Chair (who typically will become the Ph.D. research advisor) for the Research/Oral Component of the Qualifying Procedure by the end of the summer (prior to the beginning of the Fall semester). In consultation with the Chair, the student should choose a topic and set a date for the oral exam. The name of the Chair, the chosen topic and the date of the oral should be conveyed to the Physics Graduate office no later than September 1.

Third Year

  • Before end of Fall semester: Research/oral component of the Qualifying Process
  • This is a good time to take additional research area courses, to set up a Ph.D. Dissertation Committee, to plan a Ph.D. Prospectus, and, of course, to perform research.

Fourth Year

  • Before the end of September: Set up a Ph.D. Committee
  • Before the end of January: Present and submit a Ph.D. Prospectus.
  • During this year, it is expected that the student will take thesis credits, take research area courses, if appropriate, and continue to take courses to fulfill the Research Area Course requirement.

Additional years should be devoted to dissertation research and writing. 

Satisfactory Progress

Satisfactory Progress is most directly demonstrated by meeting all the deadlines described in Section II and this timeline. Note that after passing the qualifying procedure, it is expected that the student will aggressively pursue joining a research group in his/her area of interest, if they have not already done so. If there are concerns about how to go about this, the student is encouraged to meet with his/her academic advisor and/or the Graduate Program Director.

Note that students must fulfill the Research Area Course requirement and accrue 18 thesis credits.

Further Instructions

Impact on Status and Financial Support

  1. Assistantship forms for reappointment will only be processed for students making satisfactory progress as outlined above.
  2. Before a request is made to extend a student's Statute of Limitations (SOL), a justification and confirmation of satisfactory progress must be received from the student's research advisor.