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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Physics & Astronomy

Degree Programs

Physics & Astronomy

Graduate Examinations

Graduate Curriculum and Guidelines (PDF)

 

Diagnostic Examination

The diagnostic examination is a scholastic aptitude placement test. Its purpose is only to assess students' scholarly readiness upon joining the program; performance on this exam does not affect students' grades or standing in the program. All incoming students are required to take this examination before their first Autumn quarter registration, regardless of their prior undergraduate and/or graduate work. Because the results of this examination will shape the first few years of their graduate careers, students are advised to take this examination seriously.

Comprehensive Examination - Written

A written comprehensive examination is given to assess whether a student has attained the standards set by the department to continue in his or her chosen degree program. After completing the core course requirements, all students are required to pass the comprehensive examination at an appropriate level (MS or PhD) in order to advance their candidacy.

Comprehensive Examination - Oral

Students who have passed the written comprehensive exam and hold preliminary PhD candidacy are required to give an oral presentation on their proposed dissertation research. Each student's dissertation committee will determine whether the proposed research is sufficient to warrant awarding of a PhD degree upon completion.

Thesis/Dissertation Defense

Students who have passed both parts of the comprehensive exam and hold MS/PhD candidacy are required to give an oral presentation on their thesis/dissertation research before the degree can be awarded. Each student's dissertation committee will determine whether the completed thesis/dissertation research warrants awarding of the degree being sought.