Course Selection

Students must plan their curriculum, after consultation and approval by the graduate advisor. In addition to their other classes, all first-year graduate students should enroll in Physics 582, Research Seminar, and Physics 597, Teaching Methods in Physics, in the fall semester. Coursework must prepare for completion of the qualification procedure and the beginning of research. Faculty in each major research area has contributed guidelines for course selection. These guidelines have been compiled below. We also note that the following opportunities and alternatives exist in the curriculum:

  • Students who are well prepared in a given area may wish to take advanced courses in that area, or take extra courses in different areas.
  • Many students have found that 400-level courses can be helpful in enhancing basic skills in particular areas. It may be possible to substitute one or more 400-level courses for similar courses at the 500-level. Graduate students generally should not take 400-level courses when they have already taken substantially similar courses as undergraduates. Taking 400-level courses requires permission from the graduate advisor, and students taking these courses with permission may be denied graduate credit at the department's discretion.
  • Special topics courses (Physics 589 and 590) are frequently offered and represent excellent opportunities to learn advanced and specialized material. These courses are taught by visiting faculty and research associates as well as regular faculty.
  • Although 36 units of course work are the minimum required for the Ph.D., additional courses can be taken. Students may also audit courses, on a formal or informal basis. This extends the opportunities graduate students have to learn advanced material.

Course Guidelines


Physics Majors

Astrophysics and General Relativity

1. Expected
501, 502: Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
529: Statistical Mechanics I
557: Gravitation and Cosmology
558: Relativistic Astrophysics


2. Strongly Recommended: at least four of
507: Classical Mechanics
542: Nuclear Physics
546: Galactic Astrophysics
547: Intro. to Elementary Particles
556: Stellar Astrophysics
551, 552: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory


3. Recommended
503, 504: Advanced Math Methods
540: Quantum Theory of Many Particle System


Condensed Matter / Material Physics (Experiment)

1. Expected
472: Introduction to Solid State Physics (if not taken previously)
501: Methods of Theoretical Physics I
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
529: Statistical Mechanics I
549, 550: Solid State Physics I & II


2. Recommended dependent on research interests
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
530: Statistical Mechanics II
534, 590: NMR and Advanced NMR
537, 539: Materials Physics I & II


Condensed Matter (Theory)

1. Expected
472: Introduction to Solid State Physics (if not taken previously)
501, 502: Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
529: Statistical Mechanics I
Either 530: Statistical Mechanics II or 537 Materials Physics I
549, 550: Solid State Physics I & II


2. Relevant but optional
Either 530: Statistical Mechanics IIor 537 Materials Physics I
474: Intro. to Nuclear and Particle Physics
540: Quantum Theory of Many Particle Systems
551, 552: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory


Experimental Space Science

1. Expected
501, 502: Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
529: Statistical Mechanics I
542: Nuclear Physics


2. At least two of
545: Solar System Astrophysics
546: Galactic Astrophysics
555: Astrophysical Plasmas
556: Stellar Astrophysics
557: Gravitation and Cosmology
558: Relativistic Astrophysics


Many-Body and Nuclear Theory

1. Expected
501, 502: Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
529, 530: Statistical Mechanics I & II
540: Quantum Theory of Many-Particle Systems
542: Nuclear Physics


2. Strongly Recommended: at least three of
551, 552: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory
557, 558: Gravitation, Relativity and Relativistic Astrophysics
549, 550: Solid State Physics I & II


3. Recommended
503, 504: Advanced Math Methods
507: Classical Mechanics
547, 553, 554: Particle Physics


Particle Physics and Quantum Field Theory

1. Expected
501, 502: Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
505, 506: Classical Electrodynamics I & II
523, 524: Quantum Mechanics I & II
529, 530: Statistical Mechanics I & II
551, 552: Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory


2. Strongly Recommended: at least three of
503, 504: Advanced Math Methods
540: Quantum Theory of Many-Particle Systems
542: Nuclear Physics
557: Gravitation and Cosmology
558: Relativistic Astrophysics
549, 550: Solid State Physics I & II


3. Recommended
547, 553, 554: Particle Physics


Biophysics Majors

Biomedical Imaging Track

1. Expected
501: Methods of Theoretical Physics
471: Quantum Mechanics or 523 Quantum Mechanics I
421-422: Electricity and Magnetism or 505-506 Classical Electrodynamics
463: Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics or 529: Statistical Mechanics I


2. Strongly recommended
472: Solid State Physics or 549: Solid State Physics I


3. Recommended
534: Magnetic Resonance or 535/589 Topics in Ultrasonics
502: Methods of Theoretical Physics II
524: Quantum Mechanics II


Neurophysics Track

1. Expected
501: Methods of Theoretical Physics
471: Quantum Mechanics or 523 Quantum Mechanics I
421-422: Electricity and Magnetism or 505-506 Classical Electrodynamics
463: Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics or 529: Statistical Mechanics I


2. Recommended
502: Methods of Theoretical Physics II
472: Solid State Physics or 549: Solid State Physics I and/or 550: Solid State Physics II
537/539: Materials Physics I/II
455: Physics of Vision
Biology 4501 Biochemistry
Biology 334 Cell Biology
Biology 3411 Biological Principles of the Nervous System
Biology 554 Neural Sciences


Theoretical Track

1. Expected
501-502: Methods of Theoretical Physics
463: Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics
529: Statistical Mechanics
421-422: Electricity and Magnetism or 505-506 Classical Electrodynamics
471: Quantum Mechanics or 523 Quantum Mechanics I


2. Recommended
427: Introduction to Computational Physics
450: Physics of the Brain
455: Physics of Vision
472: Solid State Physics or 549 Solid State Physics I and/or 550 Solid State Physics II
Biology 334 Cell Biology
Biology 3411 Biological Principles of the Nervous System
Biology 554 Neural Sciences
Biology 5641 Computational Neuroscience
Biomedical Engineering 561 Proteins as Nanomachines
Biomedical Engineering 590 Molecular Thermodynamics and Kinetics
Systems Science and Mathematics 570 Random Variables and Stochastic Processes I
Electrical Engineering 431 Control Systems I
Electrical Engineering 445 Digital Signal Processing