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Master of Arts
Modern facilities for graduate study and research include a large-scale cryogenic laboratory; synthesis and strong magnetic field equipment; nuclear magnetic and electron paramagnetic resonance laboratories; extensive facilities for tunneling and force microscopy and nanostructure characterization, SQUID magnetometry, and electron spectroscopy; well-equipped laboratories in optical spectroscopy, quantum optics, femtosecond spectroscopy and diagnostics, and electron-atom and surface scattering; and facilities for turbulent flow and nonlinear dynamics experiments. Plasma physics experiments are conducted at the major national tokamaks in Boston and San Diego. Experiments in high-energy heavy ion nuclear and particle physics are conducted at large accelerator facilities such as Brookhaven National Laboratory (New York), Fermi National Laboratory (Illinois), and Germany's Deutsches Electron Synchrotron. Theoretical work in plasma physics, condensed matter physics, acoustics, nonlinear dynamics, relativity, astrophysics, statistical mechanics, and particle theory is conducted within the Department of Physics. Students have access to excellent computer and library facilities. The department maintains and staffs a machine shop, student workshop, low-temperature and high-vacuum shop, and an electronics design and fabrication shop.
The Department of Physics has active research groups in nine main areas of current physics research: atomic, molecular, and optical physics; classical physics; nuclear physics; statistical mechanics and thermodynamics; plasma physics; condensed matter physics; nonlinear dynamics; relativity and cosmology; and elementary particle physics. In most of these fields both experimental and theoretical work is in progress.
For graduate work in physics it is assumed that the student has an undergraduate background that includes mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, atomic physics, and quantum mechanics.
Master of Arts
The Master of Arts is not a part of the qualifying process for the doctoral degree. First-year students plan the first semester registration with the graduate adviser in physics. Students are encouraged to investigate all research groups in the department before selecting a professor to supervise a thesis project. The degree plan is then designed by the student, the supervising professor, and the graduate adviser. The time involved for completing a master's degree is related to the quality of the student's undergraduate background: the average time for completion by students with a good undergraduate background is one calendar year and one semester.
Master of Science in Applied Physics
This degree program is designed to provide students with a broad background in physics and related fields, with an emphasis on those aspects of the science most used in an industrial setting. The required physics courses include Physics 380N, 387K, 389K, a course in the physics of sensors, and a technical seminar. A thesis is also required. The supporting work must be in engineering, chemistry, or geology.
Doctor of Philosophy
A student must fulfill the following requirements to be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree: (1) fulfill the core course requirement described below; (2) show evidence of exposure to modern methods of experimental physics; this exposure may be gained in a senior-level laboratory course taken by the student as an undergraduate and approved by the graduate adviser and the chairman of the Graduate Studies Committee, by previous participation in an experimental program, or in Physics 380N; and (3) fulfill the oral examination requirement described below.
Core courses. During the first two years of graduate study, the student must take four core courses: Physics 385K, 385L, 387K, and 389K. The student must earn an official grade of at least B in each course and a grade point average of at least 3.30 in the four courses. The student may ask for the grade he or she earns in Physics 380N to be substituted for the grade in one of the core courses when the average is computed. A well-prepared student may seek to fulfill the core course requirement by earning satisfactory grades on the final examinations for some of these courses rather than by registering for them; in this case, the student does not receive graduate credit for these courses and the grade is not counted toward the required average.
The oral qualifying examination. After satisfying the first two requirements above, and within twenty-seven months of entering the program, the student must take an oral qualifying examination. The examination consists of a presentation before a committee of four physics faculty members, one of whom is a member of the Graduate Studies Subcommittee. The presentation is open to all interested parties. It is followed by a question period restricted to the student and the committee. The questions during this session are directed to clarifying the presentation and determining whether the student has a solid grasp of the basic material needed for research in his or her specialization. The student passes the examination by obtaining a positive vote from at least three of the four faculty members on the oral qualifying committee.
Each Program of Work for the doctoral degree must include at least four advanced courses in physics; a list of acceptable courses is maintained by the Graduate Studies Subcommittee. The program must also include two advanced courses outside the student's area of specialization and at least one course outside physics. A dissertation is required of every candidate, followed by a final oral examination covering the dissertation and the general field of the dissertation.
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Mailing address: Graduate Program, Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712-1081