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Department of Physics

General Information for Current Students

graduate program

First-Year Students, Plan for Summer

Prior to the completion of your first Spring semester, you must enter into a Summer Research Agreement with a faculty member. It is your responsibility to find a faculty member to work with. Talk to the faculty and see who is willing to take you on. Once you have an agreement you will need to fill out the Summer Research Agreement form and return it to the Physics Programs Administrator. The rule is this: You will work doing research for the faculty member during the months of June and July, but you will be given a significantly reduced work load during August in order to allow you to intensively study for the comprehensive exam. Please note that planning and taking of vacation time should first be coordinated with the faculty advisor before any arrangements are made. You are expected to work the three-month semester.

Waiving Requirements

Waivers of departmental requirements, if not in violation of graduate school requirements, may be granted by recommendation of the Graduate Affairs Committee with approval of the Chairperson.

Student Evaluation

The Graduate Program Director will monitor and evaluate a student's teaching/research performance.  The Graduate Program Director will forward any cases of sub-standard performance for review by the faculty. If the faculty determine that a student is not meeting expectations, they have the option of either placing the student on a one-semester probation period or asking the student to withdraw from the program. If placed on a one-semester probation, the faculty will re-evaluate the student’s performance at the end of the Fall semester to determine whether the student should come off of probation or be asked to leave the program. Sub-standard performance may result in the loss of a student's stipend.

General University Policies and Procedures

Each year the University posts an updated Graduate Catalog online. Below we have included some but not all of the policies. You should review the online catalog for further information.

Enrollment Status

All doctoral candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are full-time. Masters’ candidates are full-time if they are Graduate Assistants for academic departments, Teaching Fellows, Teaching Assistants, or Research Assistants.

Incomplete Grades

All required work in any course must be completed by the date set for the course examination. A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall or spring semester or is absent from the course examination in either semester, may, with adequate reason and at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temporary grade of Incomplete (I). All such I grades will automatically be changed to F on March 1 for the fall, August 1 for the spring, and October 1 for the summer.

Time Limits

All requirements for the Doctoral Degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be completed within eight consecutive years from the beginning of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond this limit may be made by completing the Petition for Extension form (available online at and with departmental recommendation and the approval of the Dean.

Academic Grievances

Any student who believes he or she has been treated unfairly in academic matters should consult with the faculty member or administrator designated by their school to discuss the situation and to obtain information about relevant grievance policies and procedures.

Leave of Absence

Graduate students who do not register for course work, Thesis Direction, or Interim Study in any given semester must request a leave of absence for that semester. Leaves of absence are not usually granted for more than two semesters at a time. Students may obtain the Leave of Absence Form online at and submit it to the Associate Dean’s for approval.

Leave time will normally be considered a portion of the total time limit for the degree except for individuals serving in the military. Other exceptions may exist, and students are advised to consult with their department or school for more information. Leaves of absence for students on Doctoral Continuation are rarely granted.


Students seeking readmission to the University should consult with their department chairperson. The decision to re-admit a student will be based on a consideration of the best interests of both the student and the University. Students may be required to re-submit all application materials, including test scores and fees.


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