The quickening pace of development at the frontier between physics and engineering creates a need for interdisciplinary training and research which is not readily accommodated by traditional single-focus graduate programs. The University of Michigan Applied Physics Program is designed to fill this gap, providing students with the opportunity to gain a solid base in the fundamentals of modern physics while exploring applications in the context of various branches of engineering.
The program, which spans the Physical Science Division of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and the College of Engineering, offers graduate studies leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Applied Physics. Coursework and research are structured to meet individual goals so that the program is appropriate for students intending to pursue careers in industry, academia, or government service.
From nonlinear optics to the latest developments in ultramicroscopy, Michigan has a distinguished record of innovation in applied physics. With a broad range of multidisciplinary research and access to the most advanced facilities, the program offers a dynamic environment for graduate training. The opportunities and challenges for bridging science and technology have never been more exciting, nor the potential impact on our society’s needs greater. The University of Michigan Applied Physics Program is committed to a leading role in this endeavor.
Enrollment and Graduation Data
The University Registrar publishes the number of students enrolled annually in this program, and the number of degrees granted each term by this program.
Admission Criteria for the Applied Physics Ph.D. Degree
The Applied Physics Program is designed for students intending to pursue coursework and research leading to the Ph.D. degree. Accordingly, students are not admitted as candidates for the Master of Science degree. However, our students are usually eligible to receive a Master’s degree in Applied Physics or Electrical Engineering at the time they become candidates for the Ph.D. degree.
A completed application and transcripts of all previous academic records must be on file.
The admission committee will take into account the applicant’s background in the physical sciences, engineering physics and related disciplines. A good grounding in basic physics is expected with at least 15 hours of introductory and intermediate coursework in classical mechanics, statistical physics, electricity and magnetism and quantum physics. Three letters of recommendation must be submitted. At least two of the letters must be from an academic institution. Students from non-English-speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English via the TOEFL examination. The minimum score for admission is 560.
Applications will be processed for Fall term admission. The deadline for applications for financial aid consideration is January 5.
Requirements for the Applied Physics Ph.D. Degree
The curriculum leading to the Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics combines coursework in the fundamentals of physical theory, its applications to modern technology and practical “hands-on” training in the research laboratories.
Applied Physics is administered as an intercollegiate degree program with participating faculty in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the College of Engineering. General admission and degree requirements are administered by the Horace Rackham Graduate School.
The program is normally four to five years with an emphasis on coursework during the first two years. Students are encouraged to become involved in research at the earliest opportunity and are required to complete a supervised research project in their first year. When students complete the basic academic core, have satisfied the qualification procedure (see below), have formed a Dissertation Committee and have obtained approval for their Dissertation Prospectus, they are eligible for admission to Candidacy for the Ph.D. Candidacy is normally achieved after four or five semesters of graduate work.
In order to achieve candidacy and form a dissertation committee, five prescribed 500 level courses must be passed with a grade B or better. Satisfactory completion of one four-credit hour course on non-thesis research is also required, under the supervision of a faculty member. Prior approval by the program committee must be obtained before beginning this supervised research course. All first, second and third year students are required to enroll in the weekly seminar course (AP 514).
The decision to qualify a student for Ph.D. study is based on the student’s academic record, performance in a four-credit hour supervised research project, and the results of a two-part qualifying examination. The qualifying examination is an oral examination, beginning with a brief presentation of the student’s supervised research followed by questions on standard undergraduate-level physics. The student is expected to qualify within two years of entering the graduate program.
A preliminary examination of the plans for dissertation research will be made by the student’s Dissertation Committee. The preliminary examination will take the form of a presentation to the committee of a Dissertation Prospectus stating the objectives and proposed methods of investigation. After the signatures of the Dissertation Committee, the program committee will authorize the student to proceed with the thesis research.
Students normally will have formed their Dissertation Committee by the end of their fourth term in graduate school. Approval of the Dissertation Prospectus is a program requirement prior to Candidacy.