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College of Arts & Sciences
Physics and Astronomy


Academic Information

Academic Bulletin

Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. degree is awarded to those students who have satisfied the faculty that their knowledge of, and insight into, physics and their demonstrated ability in planning and carrying out research publishable in standard refereed physics journals have prepared them for a scholarly career in physics with the potential for continued professional growth and achievement. The primary means of demonstrating this is a dissertation based on original research carried out by the student. M.S. degree students who have finished their M.S. degree at USC and want to continue with the USC Ph.D. program should apply to the Admissions Committee.

Expected Undergraduate Background for Admission

Adequate preparation for graduate study ordinarily presupposes a bachelor’s degree in physics or an allied field.  Students who lack some of the usual undergraduate courses in physics may be required to take additional course work as a part of their program.

Prior to their admission to this department, entering graduate students are expected to have passed with a grade of C or better the following courses or their equivalent:

Quantum Physics (PHYS 501, 502)

Mechanics (PHYS 503)

Electromagnetic Theory (PHYS 504)

Kinetic Theory and Statistical Mechanics (PHYS 506)

Nuclear Physics (PHYS 511)

Solid State Physics (PHYS 512)

Mathematics through Advanced Calculus, including ordinary and partial differential equations and vector analysis, also should have been completed in the undergraduate program.  Students with deficiencies in these courses must make them up during their initial two years of graduate studies as explained in the M.S. and Ph.D. Program Requirements.