Graduate students typically spend the first year and most of the second taking courses. In addition to required courses in electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics, there are elective courses in areas ranging from quantum field theory to solid-state physics. Students who have previously taken graduate-level courses can be excused from required courses by passing exemption examinations on first entering the program. First-year graduate students take a written qualifying exam in January. The three half-day exams cover classical and modern physics. Most students pass this examination on the first attempt; a smaller number retake and pass the examination the following year.
All four of the following core courses
Quantum Mechanics I and II
and one of the following:
Quantum Field Theory
** The Department does not offer a placement exam for electromagnetism. The Department's required course, PHY 6092, emphasizes radiation theory, at a level at or slightly above the second half of J. D. Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics. Our experience has been that almost all students need to take this course, so a placement exam is not offered. Students who have already mastered the material may discuss the issue of a placement exam directly with the instructor (for Fall 2011, Professor Allan Blaer).