Physics Procedures

This section is intended to help students complete the necessary paperwork as they go through their studies.  The following information certainly won't cover all circumstances, so feel free to contact one of the physics advisors with any questions.

Course Scheduling

Adding Courses

Below are the deadlines for enrolling in classes during autumn and spring semesters.

1st week of classes - Students can enroll in a course on their own through their Student Center up through 5pm of the first Friday of the term.

2nd week of classes - Students can only enroll in a new course during the second week of classes (up through 5pm of the 2nd Friday) only if they have instructor permission.  Instructors can sign a course enrollment form which the student can take to their academic advisor who will then enroll the student in the class.

3rd week of classes - Students can only enroll in a new class during the third week of classes (up through 5pm of the 3rd Friday) if:

  • Both the instructor of the course and the department chair have signed a course enrollment form
  • A late-add petition is approved by the college office.  Students can pick up a late-add petition from their academic advisor.
  • The student pays the $100 late-add fee

Problems enrolling in a physics course?  Physics majors should contact Lindsey Thaler at thaler.21@osu.edu for assistance.  Non-Physics majors with problems enrolling in a 1000 level physics course can contact Brad Hefner at hefner.3@osu.edu.

Dropping Courses

Students can drop classes from their schedule via their buckeyelink account up through the 4th Friday of each term.  After the 4th Friday, only an advisor can make changes to a student's schedule.  The deadline to drop a class is the 10th  Friday of each term, so if you need to drop a class between the 4th and 10th week, you will need to contact one of the physics advisors.  Classes can be dropped after the 10th Friday only if a petition is submitted and approved through the College of Arts and Sciences advising office.

Using Grade Forgiveness

Undergraduate students can use grade forgiveness on up to three classes during their time at OSU. Grade forgiveness allos students to repeat a course for a higher grade. When grade forgiveness is applied to a student's record, the grade earned during the first attempt of the course is no longer factored in to the studnet's GPA but will still appear on the student's transcript. In other words, the new grade replaces the old grade in the calculation of the student's GPA. Grade forgiveness can only be applied to second attempts of the course and it can only work if the student takes both attemps at OSU. To request grade forgiveness, complete the online request form by the 4th Friday of the term you are taking the course for the second time.  Additional information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the Grade Forgivness Guide.

Withdraws and Incompletes

Withdraws - a student can drop or withdraw from a course up through 5pm of the 10th Friday of the semester.  After the 4th Friday of the semester, a student can only withdraw from a course by contacting an academic advisor because courses cannot be dropped via buckeylink by a student after the 4th Friday.  If a student wants to withdraw from a course after the 10th Friday of the semester, he or she should talk to their academic advisor abotu submitting a retroactive withdraw petition. These petitions go to the college office for review and are usually only approved for extenuating circumstances beyond the student's control that arose after the drop deadline.

Incompletes - if a student cannot complete coursework due to circumstances beyond their control, they can contact their instructor(s) to request an incomplete.  If the incomplete is approved, the student has until the 6th Friday of the following semester to submit missing material but keep in mind that an instructor can request an earlier deadline. If the student does not submit the missing material, the incomplete will be replaced by the grade the student had earned in the course.

Advice for Graduate School

The information in this section is intended for students planning on graduate work in physics. As a general guideline, admission to graduate school will take a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better with a strong record in physics and math. The best graduate schools will require at least a 3.5 and some will require an even higher GPA. Average time to receive the Ph.D. is five to six years in graduate school; the practical minimum is four years and the maximum can be much longer. The Advanced Physics Option is intended to provide good preparation for graduate study in physics.

Students should begin preparations for graduate school in their junior year. During this year students should learn about different schools and make a list of six or eight that are interesting. The American Institute of Physics' "Graduate Programs in Physics and Astronomy" (available in the Graduate Studies Office and the Science and Engineering Library) and departmental brochures are primary sources. Talking with an adviser or other professors can give valuable insights about appropriate schools. If at all possible, a visit to the school is recommended.

Students should register for and take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) during the autumn of their senior year.  The next step is to narrow the original list of 6-8 schools down to 4-5 and apply in the late fall of senior year.

Letters of recommendation are a key factor in judging an application. it is recommended that students get to know a couple of their professors fairly well. Involvement in faculty research programs is a particularly important way to do this. It is also a good idea to visit professors during their office hours to engage them in broader discussion about physics.  These activities not only give students an edge in the admissions process, they also will increase the chances for success in graduate school.

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