Jul 13, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Bulletin 
2018-2019 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Physics, Ph.D.

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A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in physics requires a combination of appropriate coursework, written and oral examinations, and original and significant research mentored by a graduate faculty member leading to the completion of a research dissertation that is presented and defended by the candidate in a public forum.


To be admitted to the graduate program, an applicant must satisfy the general admission requirements of the Graduate School and be approved by the physics graduate program advisor. Applications should be made through the Graduate School and must include the following:

  • A baccalaureate degree in physics or engineering physics or equivalent from an accredited institution;
  • An undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher;
  • Results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); and
  • Three references or evaluations from qualified individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or technical background.

Applicants from non-native English speaking countries must satisfy English proficiency requirements, including a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the internet-based exam or 213 on the computer-based exam. Applicants from non-English speaking countries may submit a minimum score of 6.0 on the IELTS exam in place of a TOEFL score.

Students that have not completed the prerequisite undergraduate courses may be admitted on a conditional basis. In such cases, students will be required to take necessary undergraduate courses, without graduate credit, to remove deficiencies.

Curriculum Requirements

Upon admission, the student will confer with the department graduate advisor to plan course sequencing and discuss research options. Satisfactory progress in coursework is required and students are required to maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative G.P.A. to remain in good academic standing.

Core physics credit hours (PHYS 7003 , PHYS 7043 , PHYS 7063 , PHYS 7083 , PHYS 7971-3 ) 15  
Minimum credit hours of 6000-level or 7000-level mathematics 6  
Minimum credit hours of elective physics courses 6  
Minimum credit hours of doctoral dissertation 24  
Minimum total credit hours 72  

No more than 12 hours of 6000-level courses can be used towards the Ph.D. degree. For students already holding a master’s degree, a variable number of hours may be applied to the Ph.D. as determined by the physics graduate faculty and with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Area of Specialization

By the end of the second semester in the program, the student must have selected an area of specialization and reached an agreement with a graduate faculty member to serve as their research advisor. The student will achieve an in-depth understanding in this area of specialization through the selection of appropriate elective courses, independent study, and dissertation research. Areas of specialization must follow the research interests of a graduate faculty member.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination requirement will be satisfied by passing a written examination at the end of the first year of graduate study. In the event that the exam is not passed, it may be retaken a second and final time. The exam must be taken the next time it is offered. Failure to pass on the second attempt will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program. The exam will consist of questions authored and evaluated by the physics graduate faculty and will be administered at the end of the spring semester each academic year. This examination may also be held at the end of the fall semester in the event that a number of students begin the program in the previous spring semester.

Research Advisory Committee

The student’s research advisory committee must be formed by their research advisor within two months following the student passing the qualifying examination. The committee will consist of the advisor and three or four other qualified members. At least one member of this committee must be from outside the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics  and may be a qualified expert in the research area from outside the University. The makeup of the examination committee is subject to the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Ph.D. Candidacy

Students are admitted to candidacy after they pass the qualifying exam and successfully defend their dissertation proposal. Students must write a proposal and prepare an oral presentation detailing their proposed Ph.D. research including accomplishments to date. The members of the physics graduate faculty that are not on the student’s research committee must be invited to the candidate’s oral presentation. Passage of the oral presentation will be determined by a consensus of the student’s research committee and a recommendation forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School for formal admission into candidacy.

Dissertation and Defense

The final requirement for the Ph.D. degree is the completion of a satisfactory written dissertation of the candidate’s research, along with the successful presentation and public defense of the dissertation as judged by the student’s research advisory committee. The dissertation must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to the defense date and public announcement of the defense date must be made at least one week prior to the defense. The dissertation must be formatted according to Graduate School guidelines and the defense must be completed in time to meet Graduate School deadlines.

Residency Requirement

At least two consecutive semesters in residence as a full-time student at The University of Tulsa are required.

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