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- Admission requirements
- Financial support
- Language requirement
- Counseling and registration
- Credit load limit
- Course and credit information
- Course and credit requirements
- Grade requirement
- Teaching requirement
- Major Professor and Supervisory Committee
- Master's Degree
- Research report requirement
- Written Proficiency Examination
- Doctoral Preliminary Examination
- Admission to Candidacy
- Annual evaluation
- Writing Guidelines for the Dissertation
- Defense of dissertation
- Scholarly Engagement
- Time limits
- Application for a degree
- Summary of requirements
Welcome to the Physics Department. This guide is to help you during your studies towards a M.S. or Ph.D. degree. The requirements for earning either a Master of Science in Physics or a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics at Florida State University are described in this guidebook. Students seeking one of the above degrees should familiarize themselves with these requirements and assume the responsibility for satisfying them. If a rule change is made after a student has been admitted to the graduate program, the student has the option of following either the rule which was in effect when they entered or all of the new rules.
Aid in surmounting the bureaucratic barriers on the road to an advanced degree in Physics can be obtained from the Graduate Student Affairs Coordinator whose office is in Room 307 of the Physics Building. Academic Inquiries or questions which require a policy decision should be directed to the Physics Department Director of Graduate Student Affairs or one of the members of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee.
If a student requests a waiver of some departmental policy, they should submit in writing a request for the waiver to the Physics Department through the Graduate Affairs Director.
Though this guidebook describes the most important requirements for attaining a graduate degree in Physics, it is not a comprehensive statement of all University policies. In addition to consulting this guidebook, students should become familiar with the pertinent sections of the latest edition of The Florida State University Graduate Bulletin. Furthermore, each semester before registering, students should consult the current Florida State University Registrar's Course Lookup page, not only for course information but also for any deadlines. In addition, sometime prior to the semester in which a student hopes to graduate, they should become familiar with the manuscript clearance process, including all deadlines and formatting requirements.
2.1. General information
The Graduate Affairs Committee is responsible for selecting students for admission into the Physics department graduate program. All correspondence concerning admission should be directed to (send email) (show email).
To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit or arrange for the submission of items 2.2.1 - 2.2.5 below. Applicants whose native language is not English, please see item 2.2.6 below.
2.2.1. Application for admission to the Graduate School. Each applicant must fill out and submit an application form for admission to the Graduate School.
2.2.2. Official transcripts. One may use unofficial transcript(s) for the application, but once admitted to FSU, you must submit official transcript(s). Please send the transcript(s) directly to the Office of Admissions. The online application portal has instructions for submitting the transcript(s). Any admission or financial offer including assistantships made prior to the reception of official transcript(s) provided by the schools attended is made on a provisional basis only. A grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in graduate or upper division undergraduate science and mathematics courses is required for admission in addition to the requirements of the Graduate School.
2.2.3. Three letters of recommendation. Each applicant should solicit letters of recommendation from three persons familiar with his or her qualifications for advanced study in physics. The online application portal has instructions for submitting the recommendation letters.
2.2.4. GRE score. Each applicant is required to take the verbal and quantitative portions of the general (aptitude) Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Graduate Record Examinations are offered several times a year at numerous testing centers in the United States and abroad. Advance registration is required. Registration, as well as detailed information on the availability and character of the examination, may be obtained from Educational Testing Services. After taking the exam the applicant should ask the Educational Testing Service to send the score to the Office of Admission. FSU's institutional reporting code is located here.
2.2.5. Application fee. Each applicant must send an application fee, currently thirty dollars, with the application described in item 2.2.1. The applicant will pay this fee electronically upon submitting the application in the application portal.
2.2.6. TOEFL score. A student whose native language is not English and who has not been educated in an English speaking institution for at least one year, must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A total score of at least 80 on the IBTOEFL test and 550 on the paper TOEFL test is required for admission. The TOEFL is offered six times a year at designated test centers in 170 countries throughout the world, including all of the states of the United States. Advance Registration is required. Registration, as well as detailed information on the availability and character of the examination, may be obtained from Educational Testing Services. After taking the exam the applicant should request the TOEFL Office to send the score to the Office of Admission. FSU's institutional reporting code is located here.
For admission in the Fall semester, applicants must satisfy the above requirements by January 15 to be given full consideration; applications received after January 15th will also be considered until all of the available positions are filled.
Most graduate students are initially supported by a Teaching Assistantship for the Fall and Spring semesters. After a student has chosen a particular area of research, they are generally supported by a Research Assistantship funded by a grant from a government agency or other source. A graduate assistantship is provided with the expectation that the student works full time on their graduate education.
First year students should choose a research area by mid February and are usually supported by Research Assistantships over the summer. There are a limited number of Teaching Assistantships available during the Summer Semester.
Typically graduate students receive support for five continuous years provided that the student is making satisfactory academic progress, they are satisfying the service requirements of teaching or research, and funds are available.
A review of each Ph.D. student is conducted every year. If after review a student is determined not to be making satisfactory progress, their financial support may be terminated. The Department will not provide tuition waivers beyond the sixth year of study unless the student's major professor successfully petitions the Graduate Committee.
No graduate student may be appointed to any assistantship without the approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee. Only full time students are eligible for such appointments. Assistantship appointments are made with the understanding that the student has no other employment. If a student has outside employment and has not received prior approval by the Graduate Affairs Committee, their assistantship may be terminated. Also, no student on academic probation may receive an assistantship for more than one semester.
US residents must change their status from out-of-state to in-state residency before the start of their second academic year. The first step is to obtain the residency reclassification documentation before classes in their first academic semester. The reclassification documentation is located on the reclassification website. The department will not pay out-of-state tuition waivers for those students who are eligible to qualify as in-state residents beyond the first year of study.
There is no language requirement for admission into the department for a student whose native language is English or a student who has received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution. However, there are requirements for teaching at Florida State University.
Students whose native language is not English must have, in addition to the ability to read and understand English, a reasonable proficiency in spoken English to pursue a graduate program in Physics at Florida State University. Such proficiency is necessary for a student to fully function in one of the research groups and also to satisfy the teaching requirement discussed in Section 10. To determine English language proficiency in relation to teaching, students whose native language is not English, whether or not they received their undergraduate degree from a U.S. university, are required to take the SPEAK (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit) test. The only students whose native language is not English that are exempt from this exam are those that scored a 26 or higher on the Speaking portion of the IBTOEFL. The SPEAK test is administered on campus at the Center for Intensive English Studies and should be taken before the beginning of the first semester. Details on when and where this test is offered may be obtained from the Physics Department Graduate Office. After the SPEAK exam is administered and scored, the graduate coordinator will share the scores with the student, the graduate advisors, and the faculty member in charge of coordinating the semester's teaching assignments.
- A score of 50 or higher on the SPEAK test certifies a student to teach at all levels.
- A score of at least 40 on the SPEAK test is acceptable for a Level 1 TA, who will have no direct contact with undergraduate students.
- A SPEAK score of 45, or a 23-24 on the Speaking section of the IBTOEFL certifies a TA to teach at Level 1; and at Level 2 for up to two semesters if also concurrently enrolled in an appropriate CIES English language course. If, by the end of these two semesters, the student's skills have not improved sufficiently to achieve a score of 50 on the SPEAK exam, the student will be eligible to teach only at Level 1.
- Students that score less than 45 on the SPEAK test after two attempts must meet with the Physics Department Director of Graduate Affairs to determine what further steps are necessary to satisfy the language requirement.
5. COUNSELING AND REGISTRATION
Before registration for the Fall or Spring semesters, a student who does not have a Major Professor will meet for counseling with the Graduate Affairs Committee. During this meeting, faculty advisors will help the student devise a course schedule for the first semester(s). Before registration for the Summer semester, a student who does not have a Major Professor must meet for advising either with the Graduate Affairs Committee, or if the student is working for a particular faculty member, with that faculty member. A student who has a Major Professor must meet for counseling with his or her Major Professor before registering each semester.
For your first registration experience, the Graduate Coordinator will walk you through the process of registering for classes.
Classes may be dropped and added without penalty during the first four days of classes. Specifically drop/add ends on 11:59 PM of the fourth day. Significant changes in a student's schedule should be made only after consultation with his or her advisor.
Graduate students should be prepared to pay their registration and other fees at the beginning of each semester. Students who are unable to do so, should contact Student Business Services for an extension of the due date. The Physics Department offers tuition waivers that cover the matriculation fee for Florida residents and the out-of-state fee for non-Florida residents. However, students are responsible for the remaining fees (e.g. athletic, technology, etc.). See this document for more details.
Nine (9) hours per semester constitutes a full-time load for graduate students and fellowship holders. Depending upon the circumstances, graduate students may receive a tuition waiver for up to twelve (12) credit hours.
Students on assistantships are granted tuition waivers. Waivers are given only for Physics Department courses. Under very exceptional circumstances, an advisor may petition the Graduate Affairs Director for a student to take no more than three (3) credit hours in another department. Since waivers are given to the Physics Department by the College of Arts and Sciences, no waivers are possible for other colleges.
The number of hours which a graduate student may carry without special permission is fifteen (15).
Thesis, dissertation, and directed individual studies credit hours are included in all of the above totals.
7.1. General information
Information on the spectrum and content of courses taught at Florida State University can be obtained from The Florida State University Graduate Bulletin. Information on the scheduling of classes in a given semester can be seen in the course search tool within my.fsu.edu. Additional information about a particular course can be obtained from the instructor in the course.
7.2. Transfer credits
Transfer of courses from a recognized graduate school is allowed provided: (i) such transfer has been approved by the instructor of the equivalent course at Florida State University, (ii) the courses have been evaluated as graduate courses by the Graduate Affairs Committee, and (iii) the courses have been completed with a grade of B or better. No more than six transfer credits can be used to satisfy the requirements for an M.S. There is no limit to the number of transfer credits which can be used to satisfy the requirements for a Ph.D. Grades earned at another institution cannot be used to improve a grade point average or eliminate a quality point deficiency at Florida State University.
7.3. Acceptable elective course work outside Physics
Courses in the Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics departments, and certain Computer Science courses are usually acceptable as elective course work, while courses outside the Natural Sciences are not, but (a) the student's major professor, and (b) the Graduate Affairs Committee must give their approval in each case.
7.4. Special Topics courses
In the Fall and Spring semesters one or more Special Topics courses are normally offered on subjects not covered in the standard courses. The subjects covered are sometimes of general interest and other times of particular importance in some specialized area of research. Students should check with the Graduate Affairs Office to obtain information on the Special Topics courses being offered in a given semester, or being planned for future semesters.
Proposals for special topics courses should be submitted by individual faculty members to the Physics Department Associate Chair and the Director of Graduate Affairs three months prior to the scheduling of these courses. Student or faculty groups are encouraged to approach an appropriate faculty member and persuade them to submit a proposal for a course they think is needed.
7.5. Directed Individual Study (D.I.S.)
Graduate students who have particular interests or projects may arrange with some faculty member to receive direction and credit for their work. The mechanism for this is PHY 5909 (Directed Individual Study). The credit hours obtained can be used to satisfy course load and graduation requirements.
A Directed Individual Study course may be used to do extended research or reading on a particular topic or in a particular field of Physics. A student desiring to register for Directed Individual Study must find a faculty member willing to direct them and discuss the proposed topic or area before registering for PHY 5909. A student should have a fairly complete idea about what they would like to accomplish before their conference with the faculty member. The methods of handling a Directed Individual Study vary, and are worked out between the faculty member and the student. Some faculty members require a weekly conference, others prefer written reports, or conferences on a less frequent basis.
Students should register for a section of PHY 5909 that includes the relevant faculty member as an instructor. If a faculty member is not already listed as an instructor, then the student should contact the Graduate Affairs Office to have a new section created.
7.6. Supervised Teaching
A student can receive credit for Supervised Teaching (PHY 5940). A student may register for such activity more than one term, using the same course number, and may count the hours in meeting residence requirements for the degree program.
Students will be afforded seating privileges after registration on a space available basis with permission of the instructor. Regular class attendance is expected of all those granted seating privilege, but students are not required to do written work unless a special arrangement is made between the student and instructor. Regular registration fees are required for those given seating privileges. The Audit Registration form and instructions are located here.
The classroom phase of the graduate program is designed to introduce students to the basic conceptual tools used in physics and to acquaint them with a variety of research areas.
The well prepared incoming student will have had advanced undergraduate courses in Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Optics, comparable to the following undergraduate courses at Florida State: PHY 3221 - 4222 (Mechanics), PHY 4323 - 4324 (Electricity and Magnetism), PHY 3101 (Intermediate Modern Physics), PHY 4604-4605 (Quantum Theory of Matter A-B), PHY 4513 (Thermal and Statistical Physics), PHY 3424 (Optics). Students deficient in one or more of these areas should include in their graduate program whatever undergraduate courses are necessary to remedy these deficiencies.
The core graduate courses which contain the material with which every research physicist should be familiar are: PHY 5246 (Theoretical Dynamics); PHY 5524 (Statistical Mechanics); PHY 5346 and PHY 5347 (Electrodynamics A and B); PHY 5645 and PHY 5646 (Quantum Mechanics A and B).
8.1. Courses required for the M.S.
Both thesis and non-thesis programs are offered leading to the Master of Science degree.
8.1.1. Course-based Master's degree. To qualify for a course-based Master's degree, the student must complete at least thirty-three (33) hours in courses numbered 5000 or above. At least twenty-one (21) of the thirty-three (33) hours must be taken on a letter grade basis. At least four (4) of the courses must be from the six core graduate courses listed above, including at least one Quantum Mechanics course.
8.1.2. Thesis-based Master's degree. To qualify for a thesis degree, the student must submit an acceptable thesis and complete at least thirty (30) hours in courses numbered 5000 or above. At least eighteen (18) of the thirty (30) hours must be on a letter grade basis. A minimum of six credit hours must be earned in PHY 5971 (Thesis) culminating in the completion and successful defense of the thesis (PHY 8967). Students earning the thesis-based Master's degree must earn a B (3.0) average on at least three (3) of the core graduate classes listed above, including at least one course in Quantum Mechanics.
8.2. Courses required for the Ph.D.
After attaining mastery of the content of the core courses, a Ph.D. student is required to take and pass:
(a) Either Quantum Field Theory A (PHY 5667), or Quantum Many-Body Physics (PHY 5670)
(b) Two courses from the following set of courses:
AST 5416, Cosmology
PHZ 5491, Condensed Matter Physics I
PHZ 5354, High Energy Physics I
PHZ 5305, Nuclear Physics I
PHZ 5315, Nuclear Astrophysics
PHZ 5715, Biophysics I
Students who decide to take both AST 5416 and PHZ 5315 must take an additional course from this category.
(c) Take at least one of the following courses:
AST 5245, Radiative Processes
PHZ 5492, Condensed Matter Physics II
PHZ 5355, High Energy Physics II
PHZ 5307, Nuclear Physics II
PHZ 5716, Biophysics II
(d) Take at least one of the following courses:
AST 5765, Advanced Analysis Techniques in Astronomy
AST 5760, Computational Astrophysics
AST5342, Hydrodynamics and Plasma for Astrophysics
PHY 5669, Quantum Field Theory B
PHY 5846C, Techniques in Experimental Physics
PHY 6937, Selected Topics in Physics
PHY 6938, Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena
PHZ 5475, Materials Characterization
Although there are no specific course requirements beyond the above, there are certain requirements implied by the University residency requirement (see Section 22) and by the University dissertation requirement (see Section 20).
Before taking the Doctoral Preliminary Examination (Section 16) and advancing to Doctoral Candidacy (section 17), the student must maintain the following grade requirements:
A. Their cumulative grade point average (GPA) is at least 3.0 in the courses taken at FSU after their admission to graduate school. The following courses are not included in the GPA: courses numbered less than 5000, courses for which S/U grading is used, and transfer courses. A student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 at the end of a semester will be placed on academic probation. If a student's grade point average remains below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, they will be academically dismissed. A Major Professor or the Graduate Affairs Director may petition the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of the Graduate School for a probationary readmission.
B. Their GPA on the six core courses is at least 3.0 by the end of the second year. If this requirement is not fulfilled, the graduate student will no longer be retained in the program.
C. The graduate student meets the requirement at point B by repeating one core course and replacing that course's grade, as long as this is completed before the end of their second year in the program.
Training in teaching is an integral part of the graduate program. To accomplish this, M.S. candidates are required to teach at least one laboratory, recitation, or studio section for one semester and Ph.D. candidates are required to teach two of these sections.
Teaching Assistants who are assigned the duty of grading homework papers in a course cannot use these duties to satisfy the Teaching Requirement.
Students who have had an equivalent amount of teaching experience at another school may request an exemption from the above requirement. Such a request should be in writing to the Physics Department Director of Graduate Affairs, and should state the exact nature of the previous teaching experience.
The above teaching requirement must be fulfilled in the first two years of graduate study.
Students should become acquainted as early as possible with the various research activities of the department. It is to a student's advantage to reach a tentative decision about their research interests before the first Summer semester. This permits the student to spend a Summer in a research area, normally as a Research Assistant, and to determine the extent of they interest in that area before a firm commitment is made.
To introduce incoming students to the research in Physics being done at Florida State University and to help them decide on a research area to pursue, a weekly introductory seminar on Research in each of the available fields is offered in the Fall semester. All first year students are required to attend these seminars.
Students will also find it helpful in making these decisions to attend seminars and group meetings in the various research groups, as well as departmental colloquia. Notices of colloquia and seminars are generally posted on the Physics Department web site. Otherwise, the time of group meetings and unpublished seminars can be found by checking with someone in the group or with the Physics Graduate Office.
Students should also talk to individual faculty members about their research. They should also get to know more advanced graduate students, and question them about the areas of research in which they are working.
Students who have decided on a particular area of research and a particular faculty member with whom they would like to work should discuss the matter with the faculty member and find out if they are willing to undertake their direction.
In early February of their first year, the Physics Department Director of Graduate Affairs will ask each student to indicate the faculty member with whom they plan to work; the Director will also ask about how the faculty member plans to support the student. This information is necessary in order for appointment papers to be completed prior to the Summer semester.
12.1. Major Professor
When a student has chosen a faculty member for their research, that faculty member needs to be appointed as the Major Professor of their supervisory committee. The student should communicate this choice with the Graduate Student Office. In addition, the Major Professor will communicate the graduate student's appointment as an RA or TA with the Business office. We strongly encourage students to help proactively manage this communication to avoid delays in pay. To serve as a Major Professor for a master's degree student, a faculty member must have master's directive status. To serve as Major Professor for a doctoral student, a faculty member must have doctoral directive status.
Typically the Major Professor is a faculty member within the Physics Department. There are times when a graduate student may choose to work with a scientist outside of our department. In these circumstances, this external scientist is appointed as a co-chair, provided the Department gives them permission to serve in this capacity. In addition, the graduate student must identify a co-chair with doctoral directive status from the Department.
Neither the commitment of a student to conduct research under a given faculty member nor the commitment of a faculty member to serve as Major Professor for a particular student is a binding commitment. Should the arrangement at any time prove unsatisfactory to either of the involved parties, other arrangements should be made.
12.2. Mechanism for changing research groups
The mechanism for changing research groups will be the following: The student should discuss his or her situation and research interests with the Chair of the department and/or with the Graduate Affairs Committee Director, who will make suggestions about which professors to talk to in order to find a major professor who is able to provide support. In the unlikely event that this fails, the student will, subject to acceptable academic performance, be temporarily supported by a teaching assistantship.
12.3. Supervisory Committee
After a Major Professor has been appointed, the Major Professor together with the student should arrange to have a Supervisory Committee formed and officially appointed. To formalize these appointments, the student should report the names of these committee members to the Graduate Affairs Office. Constraints on the formation of the committee are discussed below.
12.3.1 Master's Supervisory Committee. The Master's Supervisory Committee: (i) must have at least three members with Graduate Faculty Status including the Major Professor; (ii) must have at least two members from the Physics department; (iii) may include one or more members from other departments in the College of Arts and Sciences; (iv) cannot include faculty who do not hold at least Master's directive status.
12.3.2 Ph.D. Supervisory Committee. The Ph.D. Supervisory Committee: (i) must have at least five members with Graduate Faculty Status including the Major Professor; (i.a) if a student has requested a co-chair with co-doctoral directive status, then the remaining supervisory committee must have at least four members with Graduate Faculty Status; (ii) must include one theoretical and one experimental physics faculty member; (iii) must include a representative of the College of Arts and Sciences from a department other than Physics, and this representative must have tenure; (iv) must include one member of the Physics Department outside of the student's research area. (v) Must have at least three members from the Physics Department.
To qualify for a Master’s degree, a student has two options. One, the student may obtain an in-flight, or course-based, Master’s degree, or two, the student may obtain a thesis-based Master’s degree.
13.1. Course-based Master’s Degree requirements. The student must:
Complete and pass at least 33 hours of relevant courses, 21 of which are letter graded. See section 8.1.1 for more details.
Complete and pass at least four (4) graduate core courses, one in Quantum Mechanics (PHY 5645 or PHY 5646), with an average grade of B or better.
Maintain a 3.0 GPA
Teach at least one lab, recitation, or studio section
Complete these requirements in seven years
Submit an application for graduation
13.2. Thesis-based Master’s Degree. The student must:
Complete and pass at least 30 hours of relevant courses, 18 of which are letter graded. See section 8.1.2 for more details.
Complete and pass at least three (3) graduate core courses, one in Quantum Mechanics (PHY
5465 or PHY 5466)
Complete six hours of thesis credit (PHY 5971)
Take and pass the Defense of Thesis (PHY 8967)
Maintain a 3.0 GPA
Establish a Major Professor and Supervisory Committee by the end of the summer of their first full academic year
Teach at least one lab section
Prepare and submit a thesis to supervisory committee and manuscript clearance portal.
Approval of thesis from Department and University (section 13.2).
Complete requirements in seven years
Submit an application for graduation
13.2.1. Thesis defense. To obtain a thesis Master’s degree a student must carry out, under the direction and supervision of their Major Professor, an independent research project, and prepare a thesis, that is, a written account of the research and its results. Following this, the student will have a thesis defense examination. The first portion of this examination is in open session and the second portion is open to graduate faculty only.
13.2.2. Supervisory Committee. The supervisory committee is composed of three members, the major professor and two other physics faculty. One of the other members should represent a discipline other than the student’s discipline. The student shall form this supervisory committee by the end of the summer of their first fall academic year as a master’s student.
13.2.3. Schedule. If the Major Professor and the other members of the Supervisory Committee consent to the exam, then the student should arrange an exact time and place for the examination. The Physics Graduate Affairs Office will be glad to help the student schedule the examination, however it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the oral schedule is satisfactory to every committee member. Once a time has been established, the Major Professor should inform the Physics Graduate Affairs Office that the examination will take place and when it will take place.
13.2.4. Grade. Thesis degree. At the conclusion of the oral exam the student will be asked to step out of the room and the Supervisory Committee will discuss and evaluate their performance. The student will then be recalled and informed whether or not their thesis and the defense of the thesis were satisfactory. The Supervisory Committee may at this time also indicate if further changes should be made in the thesis.
13.2.5. Certification of Results. The certification of the results are handled by the Manuscript Clearance Online Portal (see these instructions). You may ask the Graduate Affairs Office for help in setting up clearance for your thesis. After the defense of the thesis is completed and passed, the student will submit a final, edited manuscript to the Manuscript Clearance Portal. Then the Supervisory Committee members will receive an email requesting a signature on the Manuscript Signature Form. The student must then obtain University approval of their thesis as discussed in Section 13.2.8.
13.2.6 Thesis content. The question as to whether the content of a specific thesis meets the standards of the Physics Department is the responsibility of the student's Supervisory Committee. However, a well-written thesis should generally contain the following information: (i) A clear statement of the problem addressed by the thesis and its significance. (ii) A review of previous related published work. (iii) Definitions of any specialized technical terms employed. (iv) A review of the theoretical, computational, and/or experimental techniques to be used in solving the problem. (v) A thorough presentation of the student's solution of the problem. (vi) A discussion of the results of the thesis and an analysis of the impact of the results on the body of Physics. (vii) A summary of what was original and significant in the research, and suggestions for future research in the area.
220.127.116.11. Thesis Abstract. Every thesis must include an abstract, that is, a concise but complete and independently intelligible summary of the contents of the thesis normally placed just prior to the first page of text. As long as it is concise, there is no limit to the length of the abstract.
18.104.22.168. Format and style. The particular form and style of the thesis customarily follow the guidelines in the American Institute of Physics Style Manual. The Major Professor may allow variations from these guidelines. However, whatever style is chosen must be consistent with the University clearance guidelines; the details of which are found on the Graduate School webpage.
13.2.7 Thesis credits. A student working on a thesis must register for thesis credits each term in which a substantial amount of work is being done on the thesis. A student who has completed the required course-work and continues to use campus facilities and/or receive faculty supervision but who has not made a final thesis submission shall include in the required full-time load of nine (9) hours, a minimum of two (2) thesis hours per term. Those with underload permission must register for at least two (2) hours of thesis credit per term. The exact number of hours shall be determined by the Major Professor based on the proportion of faculty/staff time, facilities, and other resources needed to support the student. At least six (6) thesis hours must be earned to qualify for a thesis Master's. (See Section 8.1.2).
13.2.8 Departmental approval of thesis. When a student’s thesis has been completed, they should submit a copy to each member of their Supervisory Committee. This should be done at least three (3) weeks prior to the time they plan to take the Master’s Thesis Defense. After at most two (2) weeks, the student should check with all members of the committee for any feedback they may have. After any changes suggested by the committee are made, the student should provide each member of the committee with a revised copy of the thesis. The revised copies should be in the hands of the committee at least one (1) week before the date set for the Master’s Thesis Defense. If the committee approves the thesis after reviewing the revised thesis and questioning the student during their Master’s Thesis Defense, then the student will submit their manuscript to the Manuscript Clearance Portal. An automatic request will be sent to the Supervisory Committee members for approval.
If a student wishes to graduate at the end of the semester in which they have obtained approval of their thesis, then it is necessary for them to make sure that all of the above has been completed in ample time to meet the pertinent University deadlines.
13.2.9. University approval of thesis. Before the defense, the student should submit a pre-defense copy of the dissertation electronically to ProQuest ETD; instructions for submitting the manuscript to this external site are located here. After approval by the oral examining committee, the student will submit a final, edited version of the manuscript to ProQuest ETD. This must be done within 60 days of the defense date or the student must be re-examined. A manuscript processing fee is charged. Consult the Registration Guide for the deadline dates.
As a condition of undertaking a thesis master’s program, the student agrees that the completed thesis will be archived in the University Libraries system. The student will make the electronic thesis available for review by other scholars and the general public by selecting an access condition provided by The Graduate School.
This is likely an old process that we no longer do. We may remove this entirely. To determine early in a student's quest for a Ph.D. whether he or she possesses a genuine potential for research, and also to assure that the student begins research at an early date, a Research Report, that is, a formal presentation at an acceptable level of some explicit research accomplishment, is required of every doctoral student sometime in his or her first two years. Normally this condition is satisfied after the student has passed the Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. and before the end of his or her second year. If a student has not satisfied this condition within two calendar years of the time he or she entered, his or her support will be discontinued until the condition is satisfied.
A Master's student who has passed the Preliminary Examination and seeks to be supported beyond two years must also satisfy the above requirement.
The exact nature of the Research Report is subject to prior approval by the student's Supervisory Committee. Examples of possible presentations satisfying the Research Report Requirement are: (i) a Master's Thesis; (ii) a substantial contribution to a published paper; or (iii) a comprehensive written report on research progress. The student's Supervisory Committee is responsible for determining whether the presentation is at an acceptable level. The fact that a student wrote a Thesis at Florida State University or elsewhere or was the author or coauthor on a published paper, does not automatically constitute satisfaction of this condition. Each case will be considered on an individual basis by the student's Supervisory Committee.
When a student has fulfilled the above requirement he or she should submit a written statement to the Physics Department Director of Graduate Studies indicating how the condition was fulfilled. This statement must be signed by all of the members of his or her Supervisory Committee. A student will not be considered to have formally satisfied the Research Report Requirement until this statement has been approved by the Physics Department Director of Graduate Studies and placed in the student's file.
To be eligible for Preliminary Examination (Section 16), the student must take and pass the Written Proficiency Exam PHY8### (course number pending). You must register for PHY 8### in the semester that you plan to take the written Proficiency Exam. This grade will remain an "I" for incomplete until the time that you pass the written part of your exam. This course should be registered for once and only once.
15.1 Content and level.
The Proficiency Examination tests a student's knowledge of general physics. It is based on material covered at the advanced undergraduate/beginning graduate level.
The written exam will consist of 12 questions/problems distributed as follows: two (2) in Classical Mechanics, two (2) in Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics, three (3) in Electromagnetism, and three (3) in Quantum Mechanics. The remaining two questions/problems will be in an area of Physics that is covered in a typical undergraduate program, such as Modern Physics, Optics, and/or Intermediate/Advanced Laboratory.
You are allowed to bring a hand calculator and a book of math tables, but not the one that has a list of physics formulas (e.g. Maxwell's equations or the equations of fluid flow or thermodynamics, etc) or physical constants (e.g. electron mass, acceleration of gravity, etc). If such information should be supplied, it will be included in the statement of the problem (and that is generally the case with numbers like the electron mass, Planck's constant, etc.).
The Proficiency Examination will be administered by the PhD Proficiency Committee twice a year: the Fall exam typically occurs in the week(s) before classes start; the Spring exam typically occurs in the first week of classes. The exam will be administered over two consecutive days (Thursday and Friday) with each session running for four hours (from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm).
15.4. Evaluation Procedure.
Each question on the exam is graded independently by two graders. If the two grades on a given answer differ substantially, the graders involved are required to resolve the disagreement. Students will be permitted to see their corrected tests but not the grades assigned. After the exam has been graded, the results are reviewed first by the Comprehensive Exam Committee and then by the faculty as a whole at a special meeting ordinarily held within two weeks after the conclusion of the written exam. The performance of each student is discussed and a decision made as to whether the performance was adequate to allow the student to proceed toward a Ph.D.
Shortly after the faculty have reached a decision each student who took the exam is notified whether or not they passed the exam. No specific grades or rankings are provided.
The exam is offered twice a year: August and January. For timeline details, see section 15.6.1 and 15.6.2.
15.6.1. Students who enter the PhD program directly must pass by their last attempt, which is in August between their second year and third year in the program.
15.6.2. Students who transfer into the PhD program from the Master’s program must pass by their last attempt, which is in January of their second year as a PhD student in the program.
To qualify for a Ph.D. degree, a student is required to take and pass at an acceptable level the Doctoral Preliminary Examination (PHY 8964; the Proficiency Written Exam PHY 8### is a prerequisite). This grade will remain an "I" for incomplete until the time that you pass the oral part of your exam. This course should be registered for once and only once. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether or not a student has the preparation and potential needed for carrying out original research in physics at an advanced level.
The Doctoral Preliminary Examination is divided into three parts: (i) the preparation of a tentative Prospectus; (ii) an oral examination; and (iii) the approval of the Prospectus. The time between successful completion of the first part and the last part typically ranges between six months and one year. Each of these parts is considered in detail below.
16.1. The Tentative Prospectus
After passing the Written Proficiency Examination (Section 16), the student should strive to obtain a comprehensive grasp of his or her chosen field of research, and then should decide within this field the problem that he or she would like to undertake for his or her doctoral dissertation.
At least one week prior to the Oral Preliminary Exam, which is discussed in Subsection 16.2 below, the student must submit to each member of his or her Supervisory Committee a tentative Prospectus, that is a proposal of a research topic suitable for a Ph.D. dissertation. Copies of past Prospecti are available in the Graduate Affairs Office and may be consulted for guidance as to the form and content of the Prospectus. Since this tentative Prospectus will be subjected to critical questioning in the Oral Preliminary Examination discussed in the following section, it is important that considerable effort be devoted to making it as correct, clear, and convincing as possible. The Prospectus is recommended to be about five pages long.
16.2. The Oral Preliminary Exam
Within one year of passing the Written Proficiency Exam (section 15), the student must take the Oral Preliminary Exam. An exception to this rule is that students who pass the Written Proficiency Exam during their first year of study should take the Oral Preliminary Exam within eighteen months. The purpose of this examination is twofold: (i) to determine whether the student's knowledge of the broad area within which he or she intends to specialize is sufficient to allow him or her to pursue research in that area; and (ii) to examine the feasibility of the student's proposed research topic as presented in his or her tentative Prospectus.
16.2.1. Format. The oral examination will be conducted by the student's Supervisory Committee and will consist of (i) a presentation by the student of his or her proposed research topic, as described in the tentative Prospectus, (ii) an examination of the student on the contents of the tentative Prospectus and (iii) an examination of the student on the broad area of Physics within which he or she intends to specialize and which forms the background for all problems in this area and not simply for his or her chosen problem. The exact definition of a particular area of specialization will be determined by the student's Supervisory Committee. Any graduate faculty can attend this examination, otherwise it is closed.
16.2.2. Grade. At the conclusion of the oral exam the student will be asked to step out of the room and the Supervisory Committee will discuss and evaluate his or her performance. The student will then be recalled and informed that he or she (i) passed the exam, or (ii) passed the exam conditionally, or (iii) must retake the exam at some later date. The student will also be informed of any changes which must be made in the Prospectus before it can be considered as satisfactory.
16.2.3. Retake policy. If a student fails the preliminary examination prior to admission to candidacy, a re-examination may be requested, but it must be recommended by the student’s supervisory committee and approved by the Academic Dean’s Office. Students can take the preliminary examination for admission to candidacy only two times. The second attempt at the preliminary exam shall occur no sooner than six full class weeks after the results of the first attempt are shared with the student. For the purpose of this policy, a "full class week" is defined as a week with five days during which classes are held at FSU. Students must be registered separately for their first and second attempt, if necessary within the same semester, and must receive either a "pass" or a "fail" grade for each attempt. A second failure on the preliminary exam makes the student ineligible to continue in the degree program.
16.2.4. Certification of results. When a student has successfully passed the Preliminary Oral Examination, the student's Major Professor should provide the Graduate Studies Office with a statement signed by all members of the student's Supervisory Committee attesting to this fact. This statement will be placed in the student's file. Forms for certifying the above result are available in the Graduate Studies Office.
16.3. The Prospectus
Within two weeks after passing the Oral Preliminary Examination the student must present for approval to each member of his or her Supervisory Committee a final version of his or her Prospectus. If any of the Committee members find corrections which are still needed, then the student should make the corrections and resubmit the Prospectus. When the Prospectus is approved by the Supervisory Committee, it should then be submitted to the Chairman of the Department for his or her approval. The student will not be considered to have passed his or her Preliminary Exam until the Prospectus has been finally approved by the Supervisory Committee and the Chairman of the Department. When all members of the Supervisory Committee and the Chairman of the Department approve the Prospectus, the student should have them indicate their approval by signing the title sheet. A sample title sheet of a Prospectus with a place for signatures can be obtained from the Graduate Studies Office. The student should submit a signed copy to the Physics Graduate Office. He or she should also give a final copy of the prospectus to each committee member.
Once a student has passed the Doctoral Preliminary Examination, the student should bring a signed copy of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee Form (available from the Physics Graduate Affairs Office) to the Physics Graduate Affairs Office. The Physics Graduate Affairs Office will then certify candidacy with the College of Arts and Sciences. The student is then considered a Candidate for the Doctoral Degree and is eligible to register for dissertation credits (PHY 6980). In order to graduate with a doctoral degree, the student must complete at least twenty-four (24) hours of dissertation credit.
A student must be admitted to candidacy at least six months prior to the granting of the degree. The purpose of this requirement is to assure a minimal lapse of time for effective work on the dissertation after acquisition of the basic competence and after delineation of the problem and method of attack. More realistically the student should expect to spend two years or more of work on the dissertation.
Each year, the supervisory committee, the major professor, or the student’s advisor prior to selection of a major professor will assess the progress of the student in writing and will make available copies of the annual review to the student, the departmental chair, and the academic dean. The Dean of The Graduate School, the academic dean, and the chair of the major department may attend committee meetings as nonvoting members. Only official members of the supervisory committee (i.e., those listed on a student’s committee in the Graduate Student Tracking/GST database) may vote and sign the online Manuscript Signature Form indicating approval of the dissertation. Students and their major professors and supervisory committees will need to:
18.1 Complete the annual review form found in the Graduate Student Affairs Office.
18.2 Send a copy of the document from 18.1 to their supervisory committee at least two weeks in advance of a short research seminar (about half an hour) such as the regularly scheduled seminar to their research groups.
18.3 Invite everyone on their committee to the research seminar, pointing out that this is being given in part to fulfill the annual review requirement of the Department and Graduate School; the student is responsible for making sure that at least three members of their committee can and do attend.
18.4 Gather the required signatures on the document and return it to the Graduate Student Affairs Office.
For students who have not yet passed the oral part of their Preliminary Exam ("prospectus defense"), only the student's faculty advisor or research supervisor if they have one will be required to sign the form.
To obtain a doctoral degree, a student must complete a dissertation in their area of specialization. To be acceptable, it must be an original research achievement, constitute a significant contribution to knowledge, and display a substantial scholarly effort on the part of the student.
19.1. Dissertation content
The question as to whether the content of a specific dissertation meets the standards of the Physics Department is the responsibility of the student's Supervisory Committee. The following are some suggested chapters:
19.1.1. Introduction. A dissertation should begin with a clear statement of the problem addressed in the dissertation, its significance, the scope and originality of the solution presented, and some indication of the organization of the dissertation.
19.1.2. Review of the literature. This review should provide context and provide criteria for judging the originality of the dissertation.
19.1.3. Terminology. Careful definitions of specialized technical terms provide clarity for the reader and frame the author's own conceptual comprehension.
19.1.4. Theoretical, Experimental, Observational, and Computational Background. A brief description of the methods may provide additional context for the author's scope and framework.
19.1.5. Presentation of original work. The development of the student's original contribution is the heart of the dissertation. The author should clearly identify new results as they arise, and the student should stress the differences with previous work.
19.1.6. Discussion of the Results. Whether experimental, theoretical, observational, or computational, a dissertation will ultimately be judged on the basis of the insight it stimulates and the impact it makes on the surrounding body of Physics. The author should thoroughly explore the implications of their original contributions.
19.1.7. Summary. A dissertation should conclude with a succinct summary. This summary should clearly state the originality and importance of the results. In addition, it should provide future possible avenues of exploration.
Every dissertation must include a concise abstract, emphasizing motivation and the most important results. As long as it is concise, there is no limit on the length of the abstract.
19.3. Format and style
The particular format and style of the dissertation customarily follow the guidelines in the American Institute of Physics Style Manual. The Major Professor may allow variations from these guidelines. However, whatever style is chosen must be consistent with the University clearance guidelines; the details of which are found on the Graduate School webpage.
19.4. Dissertation credits
A student who has completed the required coursework, passed the Preliminary Examination and submitted an Admission to Candidacy form to the Office of the Registrar, and continues to use campus facilities and/or receives faculty supervision, but has not been cleared by the Manuscript Clearance office shall include in the required full-time load a minimum of two credit hours of dissertation per semester, including Summer term, until completion of the degree. A student must be enrolled in a minimum of two hours of dissertation in the semester of graduation. Those with underload permission must register for at least two credit hours of dissertation per semester (or term). Underloads must be approved by the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Before registering for dissertation hours, the student must consult the major professor as to the proportion of time to be devoted to dissertation work. Prior to degree conferral, all doctoral students must have completed a minimum of twenty-four (24) credit hours of dissertation.
Expenses for typing, duplicating, and binding of the dissertation must be borne by the student. If the thesis or portions of the thesis are to be used without substantial modification in a technical report or a research publication, then at the discretion of the student's Major Professor these portions but these portions only may be paid for from funds available to the major professor.
After a student has completed their dissertation, they are required to defend it in an oral examination. Responsibility for suggesting the time, designating the place, and presiding at the examination rests with the Major Professor. However, the examination must be completed by a specific University deadline each semester prior to the date on which the degree is to be conferred. The date should be confirmed with the graduate office.
At least two weeks prior to the date of the examination, the Major Professor or student is required to submit an abstract of the dissertation, a list of committee members, and an announcement of the dissertation title and the date and place of the examination to the Office of Graduate Studies. An announcement of the defense will be made to the general University community by the Office of Graduate Studies.
The Supervisory Committee will conduct the Defense of Dissertation. All members of the graduate faculty are invited to attend. The first portion of the defense is open to anyone who wishes to attend.
After the defense the Supervisory Committee must certify in writing the results of the examination: passed, failed, or to be re-examined. One reexamination is allowed. The report of results following a re-examination must indicate the student either passed or failed.
A written critique of the conduct of the examination should be submitted by the representative-at-large member of the Supervisory Committee to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of Graduate Studies within one week after the defense. Suggested forms for the critique are available in the Office of Graduate Studies.
20.1 Manuscript Clearance
To graduate with a PhD, the dissertation must be cleared by both the Physics Department (section 20.1.1) and the University (20.1.2). A major first step in this clearance process is for the student to sign up on the Manuscript Clearance Portal (see these instructions). The portal helps facilitate most of the processes for defending and clearing the manuscript. Therefore, students should visit the Manuscript Clearance website to initiate the process of defending their dissertation at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to graduate. You may ask the Graduate Affairs Office for help in setting up clearance for your dissertation. The final step in manuscript clearance is to submit a final, edited manuscript to ProQuest ETD (See section 20.1.2).
20.1.1 Departmental Approval of the Dissertation. The Supervisory Committee are responsible for the Departmental Approval of the Dissertation. When a student's dissertation has been completed, they should submit a copy of the dissertation to each member of their Supervisory Committee. This should be done at least four (4) weeks before the time the student intends to defend the dissertation. After a minimum of two (2) weeks, the student should check with all members of the committee for any feedback they may have. After making these changes, the student should provide each member of the committee with a revised copy of the dissertation. The revised copies should be in the hands of the committee at least one (1) week before the date set for the Defense of Dissertation. After the defense of the dissertation, an automatic request will be sent to the Supervisory Committee members for approval.
If a student wishes to graduate at the end of the semester in which they have obtained approval of their thesis, then it is necessary for them to make sure that all of the above has been completed in ample time to meet the pertinent University deadlines.
20.1.2 University approval of the Dissertation. Before the defense, the student should submit a pre-defense copy of the dissertation electronically to ProQuest ETD; instructions for submitting the manuscript to this external site are located here. After approval by the oral examining committee, the student will submit a final, edited version of the manuscript to ProQuest ETD. This must be done within 60 days of the defense date or the student must be re-examined. A manuscript processing fee is charged. Consult the Registration Guide for the deadline dates.
20.2. Checklist of Major Milestones in Defending:
- Sign up with Manuscript Clearance Portal.
- Declare a date for the dissertation defense.
- Send the dissertation to the Supervisory Committee at least four (4) weeks before the defense date.
- Submit a pre-defense copy of manuscript to ProQuest ETD
- Apply for Graduation. Details can be found here.
- Submit Defense Announcement at least two weeks before defense. The Manuscript Clearance Portal will provide instructions.
- University Representative must submit University Representative Doctoral Defense Report no later than a week after defense.
- Submit final manuscript to ProQuest ETD.
The purpose of the Scholarly Engagement requirement is to ensure that doctoral students are active participants in the scholarly community. To meet the Scholarly Engagement requirement, doctoral students should interact with faculty and peers in ways that may include enrolling in courses; attending seminars, symposia, and conferences; engaging in collaborative study and research beyond the university campus; and utilizing the library, laboratories, and other facilities provided by the University. The goal is to prepare students to be scholars who can independently acquire, evaluate, and extend knowledge, as well as develop themselves as effective communicators and disseminators of knowledge.
Residency at national or international laboratories under the supervision of Florida State faculty and registered for dissertation credits is acceptable towards the scholarly engagement requirement.
22.1. Master's Degree
The work for the Master's degree must be completed within seven years from the time the student first registers for graduate credit. Any graduate work completed by extension or transferred from another institution must have commenced not more than seven years prior to graduation in order for the credits to be applied toward the Master's degree.
22.2. Doctoral Degree
All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within five calendar years from the time the student passes the preliminary examination and is admitted to the candidacy. If the student’s major professor and/or Department Chair does not choose to either approve an Extension of Time (EOT) or require the student to take the preliminary exam and/or coursework again for readmission to candidacy, then the student may no longer be enrolled in that program or at Florida State University.
During the semester in which a student expects to receive a degree, and prior to the deadline listed in the Directory of Classes, the student must apply to graduate. Details can be found here. At this time the student will be given instructions on conditions that must be fulfilled to be officially awarded a graduate degree. If it becomes obvious that the student will not complete the requirements by the end of the semester, the Physics Graduate Affairs Office should be notified as soon as possible. A student who does not complete the requirements in a given semester must reapply within the appropriate period of the following semester or the semester in which they plan to graduate.
Registration is required in the final term in which a degree requiring a thesis or dissertation is granted and must consist of a minimum of two (2) semester hour of thesis or dissertation credit even if the student has completed the requirements for the degree in previous semesters. This is to reimburse the University for the administrative costs of manuscript clearance and final degree clearance procedures. If the student has not been enrolled for the previous two terms, readmission is required before registration.
If the student has not been enrolled for the two previous terms, readmission is required before registration. Also, if a student is receiving a non-terminal M.S. degree then they must apply for readmission to continue their studies.
At least four weeks before graduation, cap and gown, and hood for the Ph.D. should be rented from the Bookstore.
Diplomas are automatically mailed 6 to 8 weeks after the semester ends to the student's address on record. The student provides this address during the application process.
26.1. Summary of requirements for non-thesis M.S.
To qualify for a non-thesis Master's degree, a student must:
1. Complete at least thirty-three hours of acceptable course work, complete three graduate core courses, including at least one in Quantum Mechanics.
2. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
3. Teach one laboratory section.
4. Complete and pass at least four (4) graduate core courses, one in Quantum Mechanics (PHY 5645 or PHY 5646), with an average grade of B or better.
5. Complete all requirements within seven years.
6. Make formal application for the degree.
26.2. Summary of requirements for thesis M.S.
To qualify for a thesis Master's degree, a student must:
1. Complete at least thirty hours of acceptable course work, complete three graduate core courses, including at least one in Quantum Mechanics.
2. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
3. Teach one laboratory section.
4. Have a Major Professor and Supervisory Committee appointed.
5. Register for at least six hours of thesis credit (PHY 5971)
6. Take and pass the Defense of Thesis (PHY 8976)
7. Prepare and submit a thesis to supervisory committee and manuscript clearance portal.
8. Approval of thesis from Department and University (section 13.2).
9. Complete all requirements within seven years.
11. Make formal application for the degree.
26.3. Summary of requirements for Ph.D.
To qualify for a Doctoral degree, a student must:
1. Complete all six core graduate courses: Theoretical Dynamics (PHY 5246), Statistical Mechanics (PHY 5524), Classical Electrodynamics A&B (PHY 5346 and PHY 5347), and Quantum Mechanics A&B (PHY 5645 and PHY 5646). Students must fulfill this requirement by the end of their second year at the latest.
2. Take at least one of the following courses: Quantum Field Theory A (PHY 5667), Quantum Many Body Physics (PHY 5670)
3.Take at least two courses from the list in section 8.2 (b).
4. Take at least one course from the list in section 8.2 (c).
5. Take at least one course from the list in section 8.2 (d).
6. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
7. Teach two laboratory sections.
8. Take and pass the Written Proficiency Examination (PHY 8###).
9. Have a Major Professor and Supervisory Committee appointed.
10. Prepare and submit a Prospectus.
11. Take and pass the Doctoral Preliminary Examination. (Prospectus Defense PHY 8967)
12. Be admitted to candidacy.
13. Have your progress evaluated annually.
14. Prepare and submit a Dissertation.
15. Make a successful Defense of Dissertation (PHY 8985)
16. Have Dissertation approved by the University Graduate Studies Office.
17. Register for at least twenty-four (24) hours of dissertation credit (PHY 6980).
18. Complete all requirements within five years of passing the Preliminary Examination.
19. Make formal application for the degree.
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