Qualifying Exam

Qualifying Exam

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

All Ph.D. students must take The Doctoral Qualifying 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 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 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. 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.

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.

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 2023

  • Fall 2018

  • Fall 2016

  • Fall 2015

  • Fall 2014

  • Fall 2013

  • Fall 2012

  • Fall 2011

  • Fall 2010

  • Fall 2009

  • Fall 2008

  • Fall 2007

  • Fall 2006

  • Fall 2005

  • Fall 2004

  • Fall 2003

  • Fall 2002

  • Fall 2001

  • Fall 2000

  • Fall 1999

  • Fall 1998

  • Fall 1997

  • Fall 1996

  • Fall 1995

  • Spring 1995

  • Spring 1994

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)