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Program Guidelines

M..S. Plans:
Plan A or B - all full time should take plan A (30 cr. hrs. of 500-level or higher courses, including 6 cr. hrs for the thesis), while most part-time students will prefer plan B (33 cr. hrs. of 500-level or higher courses, including a one semester research project for 3 cr. hrs. and a research paper). All students are required to take the four core courses, and up to 15 cr. hrs. of elective courses can be taken outside the department, with the advisers approval. Also, Graduate Seminar (PHY 791, 1 cr. hr.) is required each semester for all full-time students. In this course, you are required to give a short presentation of a physics-related topic, which could include past or current research; new foreign students often give a description of their home country and school as a first presentation.
 
Teaching Certificate Plan - students taking this track start their studies in the summer preceding the first Fall semester of classes. Check the schedule for this track which is a concentrated combination of Education and Physics graduate courses. This program is similar to Plan B in that no thesis is required and PHY 797 (Ind. Dir. Research) is required along with the writing of a Research Report.
 
Advising:
 
The Program Director will serve as the general academic adviser for all graduate students. At the time you begin research (Plan A), you will also be guided by your research adviser. Among other things, your adviser will assist you in scheduling courses into your program. You need to update your Tracking Form in this booklet with courses you take each semester.  PINs for pre-registration need to be obtained from the Program Director after approving your course selections on the Tracking Form.
 
Research Work:
 
In plan A, you should start working with a faculty member on activities leading to a thesis project after the initial semester. This usually takes place with a Directed Independent-type course. This also gives you an opportunity to change to another faculty member for thesis research work, if necessary, by the following semester or summer term. Thesis research is accompanied by taking 6 credit hours (usually, 3 hrs each of the last two semesters) of PHY 799. You will get grades of I (Incomplete) in these courses until your thesis is finished and approved (remind your adviser to complete these grades when the thesis is final).
 
Once accepted by a faculty member to work on a thesis project, a thesis committee will be assigned, consisting of the research advisor and two other physics faculty. The student should meet with the committee at least once each semester/summer to keep them abreast of progress and schedules. The committee needs to approve the final thesis and administers the oral thesis defense. Bound copies of the thesis are no longer  required.  Instead, an electronic copy of your thesis needs to be delivered to the Graduate School. Your adviser will inform you of the official style considerations for the thesis as required by the Graduate School (also found in this booklet).
 

Plan B work can begin at any time after the student is accepted by a faculty member for a research project. The project is accomplished under the format of taking PHY 797 (Dir. Ind. Research) for 3 credit hours. A paper based on the research project is required. It should at least be written at the level of an advanced laboratory report and must be approved, first, by the faculty member guiding the research and, last, by the Director.

 
Comprehensive Exams:
 
All students need to pass the 3-part Comprehensive Exam which is administered three times each year (January, June, and August). A schedule is posted about a month in advance of each test. Each part can be taken separately in any order. It is required that you "sign up" for each test in advance. You are allowed two attempts to pass each part; if you do not pass after two attempts, you must petition the Director for special consideration to take the test again. Starting with new students entering the program during Fall 2010, it is required that you must pass at least on Exam part during your first year in order to remain in the program. The test is at the level of undergraduate physics (mostly General Physics). New students can take one Part of the Comprehensive Exam during orientation and this will not count towards the “two attempts to pass” rule.
 
Previous exams given over the last 5 years are available to help prepare for these exams. These are available on a shared network drive. Contact the program directors for instructions on accessing these files.
 
Graduate School Requirements:
 
Consult the schedule of important deadlines (separate handout) and the Graduate School web page.
 
Teaching Fellows:
 
Teaching Fellows (TF) are restricted to a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 11 credit hours each semester, with a maximum of 18 credit hours per academic year, including summer; exceptions are possible only in special cases and must be approved by the Graduate Dean. Teaching Fellows are required to provide approximately 17-20 hours of service per week. Service typically involves teaching general physics laboratory sections and/or discussion sections, along with grading (reports, tests, and quizzes), proctoring tests, and office hours.  Assignments are made at an announced meeting prior to the start of the semester. There is a weekly meeting of TFs and faculty teaching the general physics sections.
 
Teaching Fellows occupy a shared office with separate desks and computers. The department secretary will issue keys to each TF: TF office, general physics lecture and laboratory rooms, and desk. E-mail accounts can be set up on line or by calling the DoIt Help Desk at 1111. Each TF will have a shared mail box. A special code is required to operate the copy machine - check with the departmental administrative assistance.
 
Teaching Fellow stipends are paid monthly, either by check or by direct deposit in a bank account, according to how individuals wish to be paid. 
 
Teaching Fellows need to contact the department administrative assistant to fill out necessary forms to get on the payroll and set up direct deposits when they begin their graduate studies. Keys and instructional materials are also obtained from the administrative assistant.
 
Starting in 2008-09, a new position of Graduate Laboratory Manager has been created. One TF line will be devoted to this position each semesgter and during the summer terms. The duties involve working with the designated faculty Laboratory Manager to set up and store away general physics experiment stations, attend weekly staff meetings of general physics courses, assist setting up classroom demonstrations, order and repair teaching apparatus, and help organize equipment storage.
 
It is expected that Teaching Fellows demonstrate proper proficiency and professional conduct in their teaching duties. Teaching Fellows are evaluated by both their students and the faculty each semester. A record of poor performance may result in termination of the Fellowship.
 
Research Fellows:
 
Provided enough students are available, faculty research grants often support graduate students as Research Fellows whose stipends are paid from the grants. Otherwise, Research Fellows have the same privileges and obligations as Teaching Fellows. Instead of devoting 17-20 hours per week engaged in teaching activities, Research Fellows spend time doing research.
 
Departmental Meeting Representative:
 
The graduate students are expected to elect one of their members to serve as their representative at departmental meetings.
 
Other:
 
Parking permits for the student lots can be purchased through Public Safety. 
 
The Physics Department will be paying all student fees each semester. 
 
The Graduate School offer small travel grants to support graduate students to attend a meeting (one per year) to present papers on their research. Funding requests should be submitted to the Graduate Student Goverment following using their application process.
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

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