Most entering graduate students intend to earn a Ph.D. in physics. The program is designed to give a broad-base fundamental theoretical background beyond undergraduate level and a research experience that produces high-quality and novel work that is normally recognized by publication in peer-reviewed journals (or sometimes in patents).
Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in physics, with upper-division courses in electricity and magnetism, mechanics, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and mathematical methods. Students lacking some of these courses may be admitted provisionally and will be allowed to remedy the deficiencies by taking the appropriate courses at WVU. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores for the general test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) are required. A GRE score for the physics subject test is not required, but may be submitted for consideration. It is encouraged for students with undergraduate degrees not in physics or astronomy, or students who believe that their undergraduate GPA does not reflect their physics knowledge. A TOEFL or IELTS score is required of students for whom English is not their native language.
To obtain a Ph.D. degree the student must complete the course, qualifier and research requirements.
QUALIFIER EXAM REQUIREMENTS
To be accepted as a candidate for the Ph.D., a student must pass both a written and an oral examination.
The written examination consists of three parts: a quantum mechanics exam, an electromagnetism exam, and a classical mechanics exam. Each exam is offered at the start of the Fall and Spring semester. To be eligible to take any qualifier exam, the student must have a GPA of 2.75 or better in graduate physics courses taken at WVU, excluding physics 797 and excluding any grades obtained by repeating a graduate course. The limitations on how long a student has to complete the exams are also detailed below.
The oral examination is a presentation to the five faculty on the student’s doctoral committee in which the student reviews some published research that has been chosen by his or her faculty advisor.
Research is the central focus of the degree and is directed by the faculty advisor. The candidate must submit a written dissertation that presents the results of the candidate’s individual investigation. After the faculty advisor has tentatively approved the dissertation, the student makes an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation before the five faculty on the doctoral committee.
Requirements for Remaining in the Graduate Program
To be a graduate student in good standing, a student must:
- Maintain a GPA of 3.00 or better in graduate physics courses taken at WVU, excluding physics 797 and excluding any grades obtained by repeating a graduate course
- Pass all three qualifying exams by the end of their fourth semester
Within 3 semesters after passing the third written qualifier exam, students must choose a Ph.D. committee and complete the oral candidacy exam. When warranted, a student may petition the Department to waive a specific requirement. A student who is not in good standing because of a GPA < 3.00, or failure to pass the graduate qualifying exams, or failure to pass the oral candidacy exam according to the above schedule will have his/her academic record reviewed by a faculty committee and continuation in the physics graduate program will require the committee’s approval. Students admitted as M.S. degree candidates are not expected to take the graduate qualifying exams but must complete their studies within 3 years.