Introductory Program of Study

Introductory Program of Study for the Ph.D.

The following is a description of the "core academic" portion of the Ph.D. program, typically completed within the first three semesters following matriculation.  Beginning with the incoming class of Fall 2018 the requirements have changed, so please read carefully.

  • Requirements for students who entered the program prior to Fall 2018

    Students are required to complete the six core graduate courses (600 level) with a passing grade of B- or better. All six courses are to be taken prior to taking the written component of the Qualifying Exam in the fourth semester. Exceptions must be agreed upon by the Graduate Program Director: waivers for specific courses are typically given only when a student has demonstrated that he/she has taken an equivalent course elsewhere, with a grade that would correspond to a B- or better in the UMass program. If you wish to petition to have a course waived, please follow these instructions:

    • Make an appointment with your academic advisor and discuss your desire to seek a core course waiver. Your academic advisor can help understand whether or not you have had a graduate-level course equivalent to a UMass course, and can also discuss with you the pros and cons of waiving a core course. The academic advisor will send a summary of the conversation to the Graduate Program Director.
    • If following your discussion with your academic advisor you choose to continue with the petition to waive a required course, please fill out the Core Course Waiver Form and bring it to the Graduate Program Director.
    • The Graduate Program Director may ask you to make an appointment with the current instructor of the course you wish to waive. After meeting with you and asking you some questions regarding your preparation, the instructor will contact the Graduate Program Director and provide a recommendation.
    • If you are granted a course waiver, you should use the opportunity to take a more advanced, specialized research-area course in its place.
  • Requirements for students who entered the program in Fall 2018 or later

    Students are required to complete the Qualifying Procedure, which is based on the six core graduate courses. The details are provided here. Students who wish to waive any of the core courses must petition the Graduate Program Director. Waivers for specific courses are typically given only when a student has demonstrated that he/she has taken an equivalent course elsewhere, with a grade that would correspond to a B- or better in the UMass program, or can demonstrate a reasonable likelihood to being able to pass the final exam without formally attending the course. If you wish to petition to have a course waived, please follow these instructions:

    • Make an appointment with your academic advisor and discuss your desire to seek a core course waiver. Your academic advisor will discuss with you the pros and cons of waiving a core course to help ensure that you are making a wise decision. The academic advisor will send a summary of the conversation to the Graduate Program Director.
    • If following your discussion with your academic advisor you choose to continue with the petition to waive a required course, please fill out the Core Course Waiver Form and bring it to the Graduate Program Director.
    • The Graduate Program Director may ask you to make an appointment with the current instructor of the course you wish to waive before making a final recommendation.
    • If you are granted a course waiver, you should use the opportunity to take a more advanced, specialized research-area course in its place.

The core courses are as follows:

  • P601: Classical Mechanics. Offered in Fall semesters.
  • P602: Statistical Mechanics. Offered in Fall semesters.
  • P605: Mathematical Methods in Physics (including electro- and magneto-statics). Offered in Fall semesters.
  • P606: Classical Electrodynamics. Offered in Spring semesters.
  • P614: Quantum Mechanics I. Offered in Spring semesters.
  • P615: Quantum Mechanics II. Offered in Fall semesters.

Students should organize their course schedule each year in consulation with their academic advisor. A typical course sequence is as follows:

First semester: P605 Mathematical Methods, P601 Classical Mechanics.

Second semester: P606 Classical Electrodynamics, P614 Quantum Mechanics I.

Third semester: P602 Statistical Mechanics, P615 Quantum Mechanics II.

Fourth semester and beyond: completion of the three research-area courses.

More advanced students may choose to take three courses some semesters. Again, one's academic advisor should be consulted.