Physics, MS, PhD
Cost: per credit hour
Graduate programs leading to degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy are offered in the Physics Department. The programs provide a sound background in classical and modern physics, and guidance and experience in research. The department offers close personal association between graduate students and staff, giving special attention to the needs and interests of the individual. Well‐prepared students may find it possible to complete the requirements for the Master’s degree in an academic year plus a summer; however, most students will require up to two years. Doctoral candidates should expect to spend a minimum of two years beyond the Master’s in meeting degree requirements. Active research interests in the department include: chemical physics, energy storage and conversion, nonlinear phenomena, condensed matter physics, transport properties, effects of disorder, statistical mechanics, phase transitions, surface and interface physics, optics, biophysics, and self-assembly of nano materials, unconventional computing and (bio)sensing.
Clarkson University also offers the Master of Arts in Teaching with a Physics focus. Learn More.
Maintenining full-time graduate student status requires registering for 9 credits per semester (until less than nine credits are needed to fulfill degree requirements). Maximum number of credit hours taken per year is 30 – typically 12 credits each in the fall and spring semesters plus 6 credits in summer, or 15 credits each in fall and spring. A minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA is required. The academic performance of each graduate student is evaluated by the physics faculty at least once per semester. See University Requirements for further details.
To maintain qualification for study towards Master’s degree, the student must, no later than the end of the second semester of study, select a general research-interest topic and find a research advisor. This requirement applies to both thesis- and non-thesis-options.
Out of the total 30 credit hours for Master’s degree, the specific Physics requirements for graduation are: at least 18 credits of coursework, including the required course(s) from the PH661, PH663, PH669 sequence, as described below; at least 6 thesis research credits in Physics, PH699; and at least 2 credits of seminar, including 1 credit of PH683 or PH684 (Graduate Seminar). A minimum of 19 credit hours out of the total of 30 must be taken in Physics (coursework, seminars, and thesis credits).
Thesis option: Students are required to take, and obtain a grade of at least B in, at least one of the courses PH661, PH663 or PH669.
Non-thesis options: Students are required to take all 3 courses PH661, PH663, PH669, and obtain a grade of at least B in each of them. The student’s advisor may authorize, with the approval of the Department Chair, replacement of at most one of these courses with another advanced Physics or other course appropriate for the student’s program (the B minimal grade requirement still applies).
Non-thesis options students who do not take and pass the Comprehensive Examination (which is usually taken as part of the Ph.D. track) must have their research (PH699) work include carrying out a professionally oriented Special Project, the completion of which (consult University regulations) is certified by their academic advisor in a notice to the Department Chair that defines the Project’s topic.
Exceptions to some Physics requirements can be granted by the Physics Graduate Committee, with the approval of the Department Chair.
These regulations supplement the general requirements of the University and School of Arts and Sciences. The University and School regulations should be consulted for the full description. Exceptions to some Physics requirements can be granted by the Physics Graduate Committee, with the approval of the Department Chair.
To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the first year, the student must, no later than the end of the second semester of study, select a general thesis topic and be assigned to a suitable research advisor. The appointment of the advisor must be approved by the Physics Department Chair. For interdisciplinary research projects to be supervised primarily outside the Physics Department, a physics co-advisor will be assigned to the student. To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the second year, the student must pass the comprehensive examination and obtain at least a grade of B in each of these courses: PH661, PH663, PH669. The comprehensive examination will consist of challenge and/or conceptual problems based on the knowledge of undergraduate material in Physics generally and/or material pertinent to the student’s expected thesis research topic. One or two problems will be composed by each member of a thesis committee. The student will have up to 30 days to submit written solutions, and will then have to defend his/her work in an oral examination before the thesis committee. The student’s advisor will coordinate the administration of the Comprehensive Exam, and the Physics Department should receive a copy of the full exam before the student receives the exam. The result of each exam: the student completed the candidacy procedure or failed the attempt, should be reported by the advisor to the Physics Department and Graduate School within one week after the decision by the thesis committee. Up to two attempts are allowed by the University regulations.
The thesis committee will be composed of five members; a minimum of three will be from the Clarkson Physics Department and at least one from outside the Department. The committee members are selected by the student’s advisor and then the membership is approved by the Department Chair and School Dean. A unanimous decision of the committee is required for passing.
By the end of the third year of study, to qualify for continuing in the Ph.D. program, the student is required to write a Ph.D. Research Proposal, and to defend the doctoral topic before a thesis committee.
This defense will consist of an oral presentation of the proposed thesis topic. The thesis committee members must be appointed, and receive Research Proposal copies, at least 10 working days before the oral defense. At the conclusion of the defense, the thesis committee must be satisfied that the thesis topic is of doctoral quality and that the student’s background is adequate to carry out the proposed research.
Out of the total 90 credit hours for Ph.D., the specific Physics requirements for graduation are: At least 33 credit hours of courses. Credits outside the Department: at least 6. Seminar credits: at least 6. The courses taken in Physics must include PH661, PH663, PH664, PH669, PH670. The requirement for PH664 and PH670 (passing grade) can be fulfilled any time during the study, and the student’s advisor can approve replacement of these two courses by other advanced graduate courses in the student’s chosen research field.
Each semester of full-time study in residence at Clarkson prior to the completion of 78 credits, the student must register for and obtain a passing grade in PH683 or PH684 (Graduate Seminar). Each Spring or Fall semester that they are registered for credit hours, those students who at the time receive any financial support via the University, such as full- or part-time teaching or research assistantship, tuition discount, etc., must take at least one credit of PH699.
Oral presentation and defense of the written doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee, are required. The thesis committee members must be appointed, and receive Research Proposal copies, at least 10 working days before the oral defense.
For additional information about Physics PHD requirements and procedures please visit the Physics department graduate program website.