In the physics department, research is organized into small groups of faculty members, post-doctoral associates, graduate students and undergraduate students working closely on related projects. The principal active areas include experimental and theoretical elementary particle physics, synchrotron radiation physics, accelerator physics, structural and computational biophysics, magnetism and electrodynamics. Classes are generally small and informal, and thesis research is carried out in close collaboration with the faculty adviser.
In recognition of the value of teaching experience in strengthening an individual's understanding of his or her field of study and as an aid in making career decisions, the department requires full-time students to participate in instructional activities. Each new graduate student is assigned a graduate student adviser and must obtain the approval of the adviser each semester before registering for any graduate classes.
A minimum of 72 credit hours is required for the the Doctor of Philosophy degree in physics. Students who have received an M.S. degree from another university may petition for transfer of up to 32 credit hours applicable toward the Ph.D. degree. The requirements for the degree consist of a program of 72 credit hours approved by the faculty advisor; passing the Ph.D. qualifying and comprehensive examinations; and the completion of a research thesis supervised by a faculty member and approved by a thesis committee.