Graduate Bulletin

Physics, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: July 15; December 15 international

Spring: November 15; August 1 international

Applications are processed as they are received throughout the year.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with the applicant's academic capabilities.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

No specific coursework is required.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree in Physics is required.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be one to two pages in length and should include the following elements: your specific interest in Temple's program; your research goals; your future career goals; and your academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE General Test is required. Emphasis is placed on the quantitative and analytical sections.

The GRE Subject Test in Physics is recommended, but not required.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 88 iBT or 575 PBT. Any student admitted with a TOEFL score below 100 iBT or 600 PBT must pass an English skills course during the first semester of enrollment at Temple University. Those who took the PBT have the additional option of testing out of the English course by taking and passing the SPEAK test at Temple.

Advanced Standing:

Students who enter the Ph.D. program in Physics with a master's degree in Physics or a closely related field may be considered for advanced standing. The Graduate Program Committee recommends the awarding of advanced standing on a case-by-case basis. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 33.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 45

Required Courses:

PHYS 5101:  Analytical Mechanics I

PHYS 5301-5302:  Electromagnetic Theory

PHYS 5501-5502:  Mathematical Physics

PHYS 5701-5702:  Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 8004:  Problems in Experimental Physics


PHYS 8005:  Problems in Theoretical Physics

PHYS 8102:  Statistical Mechanics

PHYS 8701:  Advanced Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 8702:  Solid State Physics

PHYS 8703:  Introduction to Elementary Particles Physics

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:

The Ph.D. preliminary examination tests the student's mastery of undergraduate physics and the subject matter corresponding to three semesters of full-time graduate study. The exam provides an assessment of the student's ability to apply the physical principles to the analysis of concrete problems. It consists of a three-part written examination and a one-hour oral examination. General subject areas covered by the examination include classical mechanics, classical electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, statistical physics, and mathematical physics.

Students are required to take the Ph.D. preliminary examination no later than after completion of two years of full-time graduate study. It is offered twice a year: in January and August. In the event of failure, the exam may be retaken once. In the event of a second failure, the student will be dropped from the graduate program.

An Examination Committee, appointed by the Department Chair and made up of about eight members of the Graduate Faculty, writes the examination. The committee members who write the questions also evaluate the answers, scoring each on a 10-point basis and awarding partial credit where appropriate.

After the student takes the Ph.D. preliminary exam, the department makes a decision based on the student's performance on the examination as well as her/his overall graduate record as to whether s/he is to be permitted to proceed to the research aspect of graduate training.

To schedule the exam, students must notify the Graduate Secretary who will advise with the registration deadline. The examination has three written parts, given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the specified week. Each part runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is proctored by a faculty member. After the results of the written examination have been evaluated, each student is given a one-hour oral examination by a committee made up of several members of the Graduate Faculty.

Dissertation Proposal:

The dissertation proposal demonstrates the student's knowledge of and ability to conduct the proposed research. The proposal should consist of the following: (a) the context and background surrounding a particular research problem; (b) an exhaustive survey and review of literature related to the problem; and (c) a detailed methodological plan for investigating the problem. The proposal must be completed and approved by the end of the student's third year of graduate study or one year after passing the Ph.D. preliminary exam, whichever date is later.


The doctoral dissertation is an original piece of research that makes a significant contribution to a specific branch of Physics. The problem must be fundamental in nature, and may not be developmental, classified, or strictly applied. It should expand the existing knowledge base and demonstrate the student's knowledge of both research methods and a mastery of her/his primary area of interest. The results of the research should be of such a nature as to be publishable in a standard physics journal.

The Dissertation Advising Committee is formed to oversee the student's doctoral research and is comprised of at least three Graduate Faculty members. Two members, including the Chair, must be from the Physics Department. Committee compositions must be approved by the department's Graduate Program Committee. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of the committee members, and informing the student of her/his academic progress.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee is comprised of the Dissertation Advising Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the Physics Department. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the semester in which the student will defend the dissertation. The committee evaluates the student's ability to verbally express her/his research problem, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications. The committee members vote to pass or fail the defense of the dissertation at the conclusion of the public presentation.

If a student needs to change a member of a Committee, the new member must be approved by the department's Graduate Program Committee and registered with the Graduate Secretary and the Graduate School.

After receiving the approval of their Dissertation Advising Committee, students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a date with the Graduate Chair and register with the Graduate Secretary at least 15 days before the defense. The Graduate Secretary will arrange the time, date, and room within two working days and forward the appropriate forms to the student. After the Graduate Secretary has scheduled the defense, the student must send a complete "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form to the Graduate School at least 10 days before the defense. The Department will post flyers announcing the defense.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

Dept. of Physics

A116 Barton Hall (009-00)
1900 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122-6082


Department Contacts:


Peter S. Riseborough


Graduate Chairperson:

Peter S. Riseborough



Rongjia Tao


About the Program

The objective of the Ph.D. program in Physics is to assist the student in gaining an understanding of Physics in an effort to prepare her/him to engage in independent research. The program offers the student the opportunity to perform significant research under the guidance of a mature scientist. Graduate study is designed to represent the discipline as broadly as possible and to enable the student to learn the principles and general methods used in problem solving and research. Both theoretical and experimental approaches are, therefore, included in the program.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before and after 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Dept. of Physics
A116 Barton Hall (009-00)
1900 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122-6082


Interdisciplinary Study:

The program encourages interdisciplinary coursework, research, and interactions among faculty and students in cognitive fields, including Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, and Computer Science.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Faculty members specialize and offer substantial coursework in the following areas:  atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter physics; particle physics; and statistical mechanics.

Job Placement:

This program is dedicated to producing well-trained research physicists who will pursue careers as research scientists in government and industrial laboratories or as faculty members at the university level.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students are restricted to taking the following courses: PHYS 5101: Analytical Mechanics I, PHYS 5301:  Electromagnetic Theory, and PHYS 5501: Mathematical Physics I. If the student is accepted into the program, those courses may be applied toward the degree requirements.

Financing Opportunities

The principal duties of a Teaching Assistant include laboratory instruction, grading of lab reports, and tutoring of students enrolled in introductory physics courses. Research Assistants are expected to devote 20 hours per week to research obligations. They are assigned to a faculty member who is conducting a specific externally funded research project and who will determine the RA's duties. Both Teaching and Research Assistantships carry a stipend and full-tuition remission for the academic year. (Summer support is also available.) Applications should include: (a) scores from the GRE aptitude tests and from the GRE subject test in Physics; (b) two letters of recommendation; (c) transcripts from every university attended; and (d) a statement of research goals. Students for whom English is a second language must also submit their score from the TOEFL exam. The department makes offers of assistantships on a rolling basis beginning March 15 with a 30-day deadline for acceptance or declination of a department offer. Applications should be directed to: Graduate Chair, Department of Physics, A116 Barton Hall, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6082.

Updated 10.10.13