Qualifying Exam

Qualifying Exam

Doctoral Qualifying Examination and Master's Comprehensive Examination

The Doctoral Qualifying Examination and the Master's Comprehensive Examination are the same test. Students pursuing the Master of Science Degree, Plan B and all Ph.D. students must take this examination.

Students may obtain a grade of
“Pass at the Ph.D. level,”
“Pass at the M.S. level,”
or “Fail.”

Students who score “Pass at the M.S. level” are eligible to receive (if applicable) the Master of Science Degree in Physics when all other degree requirements have been met.

Students who obtain “Pass at the Ph.D. level” are eligible to receive (if applicable) the Master of Science Degree in Physics when all other degree requirements have been met and are eligible to be admitted to Candidacy in the Doctoral Program when all other Ph.D. Candidacy requirements are met.

The examination consists of three parts: two written and one oral. Part 1 of the written examination covers topics in Classical Physics (Mechanics,Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism). Part 2 of the examination covers Quantum Physics and Modern Physics (including relativistic treatment of phenomena). Part 3, the oral examination covers both areas of physics.Each written part of the examination is usually given on consecutive days. The oral part of the examination is given within two weeks of the administration of the written part.

Students are allowed two attempts to pass the examination. The final score is based on performance in all three parts, i.e. grades are not given separately for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3. The examination is usually taken at the end of the student's first year, but must be taken not later than the end of the student's second year of graduate work. A year's deferral may be granted to students who enter with course deficiencies. Such deferral must be approved by the department during the student's first semester of enrollment.

If a student is enrolled in the Master of Science Degree in the Physics Program and receives a grade of “Fail” on this examination, the student following Plan B, is not eligible to received the Master of Science Degree under this plan. However, the student may petition the department to complete the Master of Science Degree under Plan A.

Past Years' Exams

All exams are in PDF Format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access these files. Adobe Acrobat Reader is available on the web free at http://www.adobe.com/.

  • Fall 2018

Fall 2018 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2016

Fall 2016 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2015

Fall 2015 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2014

Fall 2014 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2013

Fall 2013 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2012

Fall 2012 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2011

Fall 2011 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2010

Fall 2010 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2009

Fall 2009 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2008

Fall 2008 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2007

Fall 2007 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2006

Fall 2006 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2005

Fall 2005 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2004

Fall 2004 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2003

Fall 2003 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2002

Fall 2002 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2001

Fall 2001 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 2000

Fall 2000 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 1999

Fall 1999 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 1998

Fall 1998 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 1997

Fall 1997 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 1996

Fall 1996 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Fall 1995

Fall 1995 Qualifying Exam Problem Book
  • Spring 1995

Spring 1994 Classical Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Quantum Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Electricity & Magnetism Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Statistical Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems
  • Spring 1994

Spring 1994 Classical Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Quantum Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Electricity & Magnetism Qualifying Exam Problems
Spring 1994 Statistical Mechanics Qualifying Exam Problems

Solved Problem Collections

  • V.V. Batyigin and I.N. Toptyigin: Problems in Electrodynamics (Dover, New York, 1978).
  • S.B. Cahn, G.D. Mahan and B.E.Nadgorny: A Guide to Physics Problems, Part 1(Plenum Press, New York, 1997).
  • S.B. Cahn, G.D. Mahan and B.E.Nadgorny: A Guide to Physics Problems, Part 2(Plenum Press, New York, 1997).
  • J.A. Cronin, D.F. Greenberg and V.L.Telegdi: University of Chicago Graduate Problems in Physics with Solutions (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago,1967).
  • I.I. Goldman and V.D. Krivchenkov: Problems in Quantum Mechanics (Dover, New York, 1993).
  • S. Flügge: Practical Quantum Mechanics (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1971).
  • C.S. Johnson, Jr. and L.G. Pedersen: Problems and Solutions in Quantum Chemistry and Physics (Dover, NewYork, 1986).
  • Y.-K. Lim: Problems and Solutions on Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics(World Scientific, Singapore, 1990).
  • N. Newbury, M. Newman, J. Ruhl, S.Staggs and S. Thorsett: Princeton Problems in Physics with Solutions (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991).
  • A.C. Tribble: Princeton Guide to Advanced Physics (Princeton University Press,Princeton, 1996)