Academic Programs

Ph.D. Program in Physics at NIU

Course Requirements

Students are required to complete 90 semester hours of graduate course work. This includes 15 hours selecting five out of six core courses covering classical and quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and electromagnetic theory, and 12 hours of 600 or 700 level courses in two different areas of physics. The remaining hours are for dissertation work or other graduate course work in physics and related fields.

In 2007, a specialization in nanophysics was approved. The course requirements for this specialization are a sub-set of the Ph.D. course requirements and can be found in the catalog.  Students in this specialization are required to pass the same Ph.D. candidacy examination as all physics Ph.D. students.

Transfer credits for students entering with a master's degree or with graduate coursework from another institution are allowed. Transfer credits are limited to a total of 30 semester hours.

Typically each semester some courses are offered in the evening in order to accomodate non-traditional and part-time students.  

Exam Requirements

Students entering the program without a master's degree in physics are required to pass a MS qualifying examination covering undergraduate material, which is usually taken during the first year. This can be waived given a physics GRE score of 50%.

Successful completion of a Ph.D. candidacy examination based on the core courses and and upper-level undergraduate courses is required of all students in the Ph.D. program.

The Ph.D. candidacy exam is divied into four areas: classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, E&M, and modern and statistical physics.

Students entering our program with a B.S. degree are required to pass this exam during their first three years while students entering with a M.S. have two years. The Physics Graduate Manual describes exam policies further.