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Ph.D. Program

Katie Ham at the Advanced Photon Source at the High Pressure beamlineStudents in the Ph.D. program choose between two tracks — the general physics track and the applied physics track. After you have taken core program courses and have passed a qualifying exam, you will choose a faculty mentor and begin work on your dissertation.

The Qualifying Exam

A qualifying examination is given to test a student’s competency in fundamental areas of physics. This examination is divided into three sections: statistical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, and quantum physics. The examination may not be taken more than twice.

The Dissertation

Following satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination and consultation with individual faculty members, you will select a specific area for dissertation research under the supervision of an appropriate graduate faculty member. Your Graduate Study Committee, chaired by the major advisor, will outline a program of study including courses and appropriate tools of research, such as computer and/or foreign language competency. After you complete the program, the Graduate Study Committee will administer an oral examination to test your knowledge in the area of research. You must pass this oral examination in no more than two attempts. Then, with direction from the major advisor, you should focus on formulating and writing a formal research proposal that must be presented and defended before the Graduate Study Committee; this should lead to a recommendation from the committee for admission to candidacy.

Course Catalog

A complete list of program requirements and courses are available in the UAB Graduate Catalog.


Any questions about our graduate programs can be directed to the graduate program director Dr. Shane Aaron Catledge.

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