Physics: Earning the PhD degree

For a comprehensive description of the PhD in Physics, consult the program requirements.

Students are required to pass the written comprehensive examination at the PhD level. If students fail to pass the examination at the PhD level, they may take it a second time the next session it is given.

Course Requirements

For the PhD, students are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 units each quarter and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Doctoral Committee

Doctoral committees are arranged by the student before the oral qualifying examination. Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor for recommendations on committee members.

To nominate a doctoral committee, please consult the minimum standards for doctoral committees and complete the nomination of doctoral committee form. The doctoral committee must be approved by Graduate Division before the oral qualifying examination.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying examination is an oral presentation of the student’s proposed dissertation problem.

To schedule the oral qualifying exam, consult and complete the preparation for oral qualifying exam form.

Upon the successful completion of their oral qualifying examination, students are advanced to candidacy. Full-time students are expected to advance to candidacy by their 9th quarter in residence.


Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral examination (i.e. defense) is required for all students in the program. Full-time students are expected to defend and submit their Ph.D. dissertations by their 18th quarter in residence. To schedule your defense, consult and complete the preparation for final oral exam form.

Filing Your Dissertation

When you are ready to file your dissertation, please consult with Graduate Division for deadlines, formatting and other regulations.