Selecting a Research Area and Research Advisor

The selection of a research area and advisor should be made as soon as possible after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination. A student cannot gain credit for Dissertation Research (PH 699) before s/he passes the Preliminary Exam. The student should first interview several faculty members whose research may be of interest to the student, and the faculty members will describe potential research projects. The selection of a research area and a research advisor will then be made by agreement between the student and the advisor. As soon as the selection is made, both the student and the advisor must notify the department chairperson in writing.

If a student and research advisor 12 mutually agree to end their relationship, the student and advisor must both notify the department chairperson in writing of this action. The student must then begin the selection process again.

The department requires that all students doing research toward a degree be supervised by a research advisor approved by the department. The student must keep his/her advisor fully and regularly informed of the progress of his/her research. Failure to do so could result in the dissertation not being approved.

Dissertation Committee

The student, in consultation with his/her advisor and the department chairperson, will form a Dissertation Committee soon after the Preliminary Examination is passed (by the end of the same semester). The committee will consist of five members of the Graduate Faculty, including the research advisor as committee chairperson, three other faculty members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and one faculty member of another department. (The external committee member may be from another institution if prior approval is obtained from the Dean of the Graduate School.) The chair must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty.

Students doing theoretical (experimental) dissertations are advised to have at least one faculty member on the committee who is an experimentalist (theorist). At least one departmental member of the committee should be from an area outside the student’s major research concentration.

If the research advisor is not a regular member of the department (either external or adjunct), a regular member of the department must serve as co-chair. An advisor from outside the department would also serve as the external member of the committee. A form to use in selecting the committee is available on the department website.

The student is required to meet with the Dissertation Committee at least once a year for assistance in monitoring and guiding the student’s research.

Final Version of the Dissertation

A final version of the dissertation will be given to each of the five members of the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks before the oral defense. The student is responsible for all aspects of the production of the dissertation, including the preparation, typing, reproduction, dissemination to the committee members, and all costs involved. Departmental resources cannot be utilized for the production of the dissertation. Please submit a clean, unbound copy of your completed dissertation to the office after your defense, for our permanent records.

Oral Examination

A final oral examination must be passed after completion of the dissertation. This examination follows a public presentation by the candidate on the results of his or her research. The examination will be primarily on the candidate’s research work as embodied in the dissertation, but it may also encompass the complete program for the degree. The examining committee will be the Dissertation Committee previously described. No more than one dissenting vote is allowed for a pass. The student may take the oral examination only once.