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Doctor of Philosophy in Physics


A minimum of 85 semester hours beyond the undergraduate degree or 48 hours past the master's degree is required by this program. The broad requirements for granting the Ph.D. are as follows; satisfactory performance in core and elective courses, successful completion of both written and oral portions of the Candidacy Examination, and completion of a satisfactory dissertation. The department has the responsibility for academic and dissertation advising. Bona fide candidates for the Ph.D. are those who have passed the Candidacy Examination. Further details are in the departmental graduate brochure, which is available on request.

Candidacy Examination

A student admitted to the Ph.D. program in physics becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. degree by passing the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination. This examination is given twice each year, early in the fall and spring semesters.

See the description of the written and oral candidacy exams here.


The dissertation is the final and most important part of the work required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in physics. The dissertation must be based on original research and make a contribution to existing knowledge of sufficient interest to warrant publication in a refereed physics journal.

The candidate normally works closely with the research advisor who is chair of the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee membership consists of five members of the graduate faculty, one of whom must be selected from outside of the physics faculty. Selection of the members is the joint responsibility of the student and his or her research advisor. The final membership of the committee must be approved by the graduate program director and the department chair.

Doctoral research must be supervised and directed by a member of the regular graduate faculty of Old Dominion University. Should it become necessary for the work to be conducted off campus, the work must still be supervised by a member of the regular graduate faculty of Old Dominion University. Classified research is not suitable for a dissertation since one essential aspect of doctoral work is free and full dissemination of research results.

The format of the dissertation or thesis is determined by the Guide for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, and details specific to physics are available from the Department of Physics.

Dissertation Defense

The final examination of the candidate consists of the oral defense of the dissertation. This public examination is conducted by the dissertation committee with the research advisor serving as chair. The candidate fails if he or she receives a majority of negative votes from the dissertation committee. Another examination may be scheduled if a candidate fails the first; however, only one re-examination is permitted.

Course Requirements

Doctoral candidates must complete the following courses: PHYS 601, 603, 604, 621, 704/804, 707/807, 721/821.

Additionally, doctoral students must complete the following courses: PHYS 808 (graduate laboratory), 811 (computational physics), two semesters of 731/831 (physics seminar), and elect a minimum of six hours of advanced specialized courses on the 800 level.

Applied Physics Endorsement. A student who meets all other requirements for the Ph.D. may receive an applied physics endorsement by completing PHYS 809 and 812.