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 Masters 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. Graduate Record Examination general scores are required and the GRE Subject Test in Physics is recommended. 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 February 1.

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, seven prescribed 500 level courses must be passed with a grade B or better. In addition, four elective courses (chosen in consultation with the program advisor according to the student’s research needs) must be completed satisfactorily. 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).

Qualifying Procedure

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 first part of the qualifying examination consists of a written examination on basic undergraduate-level physics. The second part of 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.

Preliminary Examination

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. Over 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 fifth term in graduate school. Approval of the Dissertation Prospectus is a program requirement prior to Candidacy.