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.
New Format: Qualifying Exam – Beginning Fall 2021
The exam will have two parts:
Part 1) Written exam: will be held on one day only. Students will have to do 4 problems, one from each section: Classical Mechanics (including relativity), Electricity and Magnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics.
To pass at the PhD (MS) level, the student must solve one problem in each section with a minimum of 40% (30%) score in each, and a total score of at least 50% (40%).
Possible time slots:
10:00 am – 12:00 p.m. - Classical Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. - Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics
The exam will be graded within one week of its administration.
A student who obtains a score of at least 40% (30%) in each section individually and a total score of at least 50% (40%) in the Part 1 is deemed to have passed the qualifying exam at the PhD (MS) level, and is not required to take the Part 2 of the exam.
Part 2) Oral exam: Will be held within two weeks after the written exam scores are announced to the students. It will be administered only for students who earned a Ph.D. (M.S.) passing total score, but not so in each individual section.
Oral Exam Option for the PhD student: If the student has earned a passing score in total (≥50%), but not in one or two topics individually (scoring somewhere between 30% – 39%), they will be given an option to take the oral exam in the topics in which they did not earn a passing score.
Oral Exam Option for the MS student: If the student has earned a passing score in total (≥40%), but not in one or two topics individually (scoring somewhere between 20% – 29%), they will be given an option to take the oral exam in the topics in which they did not earn a passing score.
Students are allowed two attempts to pass the examination. 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.