Physics and Astronomy

Steps to a Ph.D.

 

Some Key Information
The Ph.D. Program in Physics at UMSL is a cooperative program with the Missouri S&T Physics Department on the Rolla campus. Therefore, students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Physics at UMSL must also be admitted to the Ph.D. program at Missouri S&T.


If you have been admitted to the M.S. program in Physics at UMSL, you are not automatically admitted to the Ph.D. program. Should you decide that you wish to join the Ph.D. program, you must reapply.

Students in the Ph.D. program must take the Qualifying Exam as soon as it is offered after they have obtained their M.S. degree. Students that have been admitted with an M.S. degree must take it at the first opportunity after starting the program. The Department keeps sample exams in order for you to become acquainted with it. The exam is offered in early January of each year. Contact the Graduate Coordinator in early October to submit your name for admission to Rolla and to be eligible to take the Qualifying Examination.

The Ph.D. program consists of a core curriculum of courses you must take (18 credit hours; check the specific courses here). In addition, students must take two 5000-6000 level, 3 credit hour Physics or Mathematics Lecture courses (i.e., not including research or seminar), along with enough credit hours of graduate level Lecture or Laboratory courses (at the 4000-6000 level), Research (Physics 6490), Seminar (Physics 6410), or Special Topics (Physics 6401) courses to fulfill the 72 credit hours minimum required to meet the Ph.D. residency requirement. At least 24 credit hours must be in Research (Physics 6490). The Ph.D. program of study must also contain at least two consecutive 9 credit hour semesters.

A candidate for the Ph.D. degree must complete the equivalent of three years of residency, which is six semesters (72 credit hours minimum) of full-time work beyond the bachelor's degree. Note that only multiples of 3 credit hour work will fully count toward your residency requirement (see the academic program at Missouri S&T). Thus, unless you enroll in six 12 credit hour semesters, you will normally satisfy the residency requirement with 78 credit hours: the M.S. degree in Physics (30 credit hours minimum) counts for one-year out of the minimum three year residency requirement, leaving you with the remaining residency requirements of completing the equivalent of two years (four semesters, 48 credit hours minimum) of full-time work beyond the master's degree. This will normally include a minimum of two consecutive semesters with a graduate registration of at least 9 credit hours per semester.

Note that after passing the Qualifying Exam, students are expected to first form their Ph.D. advisory committee and submit a Program of Study (Missouri S&TGraduate Form 5), all within a year of passing the Qualifying Exam. Missouri S&T graduate forms and deadlines are here.

Summary of Specific Steps Toward the Ph.D. Degree (revised Feb 2009)

  1. Upon completion of the M.S. degree,  each student must be enrolled in the graduate programs at both Missouri S&T and UMSL. To do this the student must submit copies of transcripts, GRE scores, and TOEFL score (if applicable) to both departments. To be admitted to the program a student must have a GRE Quantitative score of at least 600 and an Analytical score of at least 3.0. If the students native language is not English, they must have a TOEFL score of at least 213 CBT or 550 PBT to be admitted to the graduate program at Missouri S&T. UMSL graduate students who wish to enter the cooperative Ph.D. program must apply to the Missouri S&T Graduate School (application fee waived). The UMSL Graduate School will assist forwarding official copies of transcripts, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores (if applicable) to Missouri S&T. International students will work with UMSLs staff to get an I-20 form issued and an appropriate visa.
  2. In order to properly obtain course and residency credits, each student in the cooperative program must be continuously enrolled at Missouri S&T (excluding summers) in the course entitled Cooperative Registration (Physics 494). Enrollment will be for one credit hour in the first semester and in zero hours in subsequent semesters the student is enrolled in the cooperative program.
  3. Once enrolled in the Cooperative Program, each student admitted with an M.S. degree in Physics must take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination at their first opportunity (see Section V, part A), and must pass the exam within the second such opportunity. The successful completion of this exam is reported to the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies on Missouri S&T Graduate Form 4 with a copy sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean.
  4. Within 1 year of passing the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination each student should complete a feasibility study for their proposed Ph.D. thesis project. This study should be approximately 3 pages in length and consist of a research plan and extensive reference citations.
  5. Each student consults with their UMSL research advisor (Committee Chair) to select a Missouri S&T co-advisor (Co-Chair) and a Ph.D. Advisory Committee (see Section IV). This committee should be listed on Missouri S&T Graduate Form 5 and sent by the UMSL Committee Chair to the Chair of the Missouri S&T Physics Department. A copy will be sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean and substitute for form D-4. Once approved by the Missouri S&T Department Chair, the form will be sent to the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies requesting the formal appointment of the advisory committee. This step should be completed within 1 year of passing the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination.
  6. In addition, the student will, with the aid of the committee, submit a proposed Ph.D. program of study to the Chair of the Missouri S&T Physics Department on Missouri S&T Graduate Form 5. A copy will be sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean and substitute for form D-3. Once approved by the Missouri S&T Chair, the form will be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies for final approval. If changes in the program become necessary, an amendment to Missouri S&T Graduate Form 5 must be submitted for approval with a copy sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean.
  7. After the candidate completes 75% of the coursework outlined on the doctoral program of study (Form 5), the advisor requests the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies to authorize the advisory committee to administer the Ph.D. comprehensive examination using the Request for Authorization of Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination form (http://grad.mst.edu/currentstudents/gradforms.html).
  8. After the student has completed all courses listed in his/her doctoral program, the UMSL Committee Chair should request that the Ph.D. Advisory Committee administer the comprehensive examination (see Section V, part B). The comprehensive exam must be completed at least 12 weeks prior to the final examination. At the time of the request, the student must submit an official graduate school transcript to the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies in order to verify that he/she has satisfactorily completed all courses on the program of study. The results of the comprehensive examination are reported to the Missouri S&T Chair and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies on Missouri S&T Graduate Form 6. A copy will be sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean and substitute for form D-5.
  9. After the student passes the comprehensive examination, continuous enrollment must be maintained in accordance with Missouri S&T Policy Memo II-20 until the degree is completed or the candidacy is canceled.
  10. Within four weeks of the beginning of a semester in which a student plans to graduate, the student must contact the Missouri S&T registrar to make application for diploma.
  11. he student and advisor select the date, time, and place of the final examination and inform the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies office electronically and submit form D-9 to the UMSL Graduate School so that the final examination may be publicly announced at least two weeks in advance. The students Ph.D. thesis should be made available to the Ph.D. advisory committee at least one week before the thesis defense.
  12. The results of the final examination are reported to the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies on Missouri S&T Graduate Form 7. A copy will be sent to the UMSL Graduate Dean and substitute for form D-7.
  13. When all requirements have been met, the Missouri S&T Vice Provost for Graduate Studies will notify the registrar and forward the approved copy of the candidates dissertation to the Missouri S&T library. The student then follows the UMSL electronic submission procedures and submits the dissertation and a signed publication agreement to the UMSL Graduate School. Bound copies must be provided to the Missouri S&T Physics Department and the UMSL Department of Physics & Astronomy, the UMSL Committee Chair, and the Missouri S&T Co-Chair (if requested). The UMSL Graduate School will forward the dissertation to be microfilmed with the associated fees (including copyrighting) the responsibility of the student.
  14. Upon recommendation by the Missouri S&T and UMSL graduate faculty, the Ph.D. degree is granted by The University of Missouri Board of Curators. The diploma will be signed by the Chancellors at both campuses, and the student will have the choice of participating in the commencement exercises of either campus.