Semester Conversion

The Graduate School has developed a quick reference guide to help you quickly access the information you need about semesters and graduate student credit hours, GA appointments, enrollment, etc. It’s designed to be printed and displayed on a 11x17 sheet and can also be printed on 8.5x11.  The Graduate School based it on questions we’ve been getting from you, graduate students, and faculty.


Physics Ph.D. Transition Policy

Students who began their degree under quarters will not be penalized as the university moves to semesters, either in terms of progress towards their degree or their expected timing of graduation.  The Graduate Studies Chair is the advisor for all PhD students upon entry to the program, and remains the students’ advisor until they join research groups and prepare for the Candidacy Exam (typically in the second year).  At this point the student’s research advisor also becomes his/her academic advisor.  This support structure will continue under semesters.  

The transition plan for the Ph.D degree details how students who have completed portions of their required coursework under quarters be able to fulfill their coursework requirements under semesters.

Requirements for the quarter-based Ph.D degree include a one-year “core-course” sequence on Quantum Mechanics (Phys 827-828-829), a one-year core-course sequence on Electromagnetic Field Theory (Phys 834-835-836), a one-year core-course sequence consisting of one quarter of Classical Dynamics (Phys 821) followed by two quarters of Statistical Physics (846-847), and at least five quarters of Advanced Topics Courses (with typical course numbers starting Phys 780.xx and Phys 880.xx.  At most two of these five Advanced Topics courses can be at the 780 level.  Under semesters, the requirements will be a one-year Quantum Mechanics sequence (Phys 7501-7502), a one-year Classical and Statistical Physics sequence (Phys 7601, 7602), and a one year sequence consisting of Analytical and Numeric Methods of Physics (7701) followed by Electromagnetic Field Theory (7401).  Advanced Topics courses will typically be numbered 68xx (corresponding to the 780-level quarter-based courses) or 88xx (corresponding the the 880-level quarter-based courses).   Students will also be required to take at least three semesters of Advanced Topics courses, with at most one of these at the 68xx level.

The semester version of the three core-course sequences are essentially straight conversions of the corresponding quarter-based sequences, except that the weekly content and number of contact hours will be reduced slightly, and the analytic and numeric methods in the quarter-based Electromagnetic Field Theory course will be consolidated into a one-semester Analystic and Numeric Methods of Physics course, with the remaining content consolidated into a one-semester Electromagnetic Field Theory course.  For the Advanced Topics courses, the weekly contact hours and content will remain the same, such that the total content of one semester-based Advanced Topics course will have content equivalent to 1.5 quarter-based Advance Topics courses. 

Nearly all Physics Ph.D. students take the one-year core-course sequences during a single academic year, in which case a one-year sequence under quarters will be counted as the corresponding one-year sequence under semesters.  However, if a student has taken only the first quarter of a sequence, then the student will have the option of taking a two-hour reading course (Phys 7193 or 7194) to complete the equivalent of the first semester of that sequence.  If a student has taken the first two quarters of a sequence, then the student will take the second semester of the corresponding sequence to complete the sequence.  Note that since the weekly content and contact hours of the semester core-courses have been reduced compared to the corresponding quarter core-courses, the second semester of core-course sequence has approximately the same content as the third quarter of the corresponding course sequence.

Regarding the Advanced Topics (AT) courses, a student who has completed either one or two quarters of AT courses will need to complete at least two semesters of AT courses to complete this requirement.  A student who has completed three quarters of AT courses will need to complete at least one semester of AT courses.  A student who has completed four or more quarters of AT courses will have satisfied the AT course requirement under semesters.  Since a one semester AT course is equivalent to 1.5 quarters of AT courses, the above policy ensures that no student will be required to take more than the equivalent of five quarters of AT courses.


Last Updated 6/22/2012