Program Requirements

Course Requirements

Students admitted to the PhD program in Physics at Florida State University are expected to have taken advanced undergraduate courses in  Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics; however, students deficient in one or more of these areas will have the opportunity and are encouraged to take undergraduate classes to fill any gaps.

Typically during their first two years in the program, graduate students are required to take 6 core graduate courses, which cover the following topics: Theoretical Dynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, and Quantum Mechanics. In addition, students are required to take 5 more electives from 4 pre-selected sets of course. For more information, see section 8 in the Physics Graduate Student Handbook. In addition, the department often offers special topics courses. Visit the Physics Department website for a list of current class offerings.


During their first two years in the program, graduate students must take and pass the Written Proficiency Examination, which tests a student's knowledge of general physics. It is based on material covered at the advanced undergraduate/beginning graduate level. 

After a student passes the Proficiency Exam, they must pass the Doctoral Preliminary Examination or Prospectus Defense to advance to PhD Candidacy. 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. For more information, see section 16 of the Graduate Student Handbook. 

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. Prior to degree conferral, all doctoral students must have completed a minimum of twenty-four (24) credit hours of dissertation.

For more details on the program requirements and guidelines, see the Graduate Student Handbook.

For all University policies, procedures, admission requirements, colleges, departments, course descriptions, and more for graduate students, see the FSU Graduate Bulletin.