PhD in Physics

Clarkson University Graduate School

Program Description

PhD in Physics

Clarkson University Graduate School

The program provides you with a sound background in classical and modern physics, with guidance and experience in research.

The Department of Physics offers a graduate program leading to a Master of Science in Physics. We offer close personal interaction between you and the faculty, giving individual attention to your needs and interests as you move through the program.

Active research interests in the department include chemical physics, energy storage and conversion, nonlinear phenomena, condensed matter physics, transport properties, effects of the disorder, statistical mechanics, phase transitions, surface and interface physics, optics, biophysics, self-assembly of nanomaterials, unconventional computing and (bio)sensing.

Degree Requirements

These regulations supplement the general requirements of the University and School of Arts & Sciences. The University and School regulations should be consulted for the full description. Exceptions to some Department of Physics requirements can be granted by the Physics Graduate Committee, with the approval of the department chair.

To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the first year, the student must, by no later than the end of the second semester of study, select a general thesis topic and be assigned to a suitable research advisor. The appointment of the advisor must be approved by the Department of Physics chair. For interdisciplinary research projects to be supervised primarily outside the Department of Physics, a Physics co-advisor will be assigned to the student.

To maintain qualification for study toward the Ph.D. beyond the second year, the student must pass the comprehensive examination and obtain at least a grade of B in each of these courses: PH661, PH663, and PH669. The comprehensive examination will consist of challenge and/or conceptual problems based on the knowledge of the undergraduate material in physics generally and/or material pertinent to the student’s expected thesis research topic. One or two problems will be composed by each member of a thesis committee. The student will have up to 30 days to submit written solutions and will then have to defend his/her work in an oral examination before the thesis committee. The student’s advisor will coordinate the administration of the comprehensive exam, and the Department of Physics should receive a copy of the full exam before the student receives the exam. Whether the student completed the candidacy procedure or failed the attempt should be reported by the advisor to the department and Graduate School within one week after the decision by the thesis committee. Up to two attempts are allowed by the University regulations.

The thesis committee will be composed of five members; a minimum of three will be from the Clarkson Department of Physics and at least one from outside the department. The committee members are selected by the student’s advisor, and then the membership is approved by the department chair and school dean. A unanimous decision of the committee is required for passing.

By the end of the third year of study, to qualify for continuing in the Ph.D. program, the student is required to write a Ph.D. research proposal and defend the doctoral topic before a thesis committee.

This defense will consist of an oral presentation of the proposed thesis topic. The thesis committee members must be appointed and receive research proposal copies at least 10 working days before the oral defense. At the conclusion of the defense, the thesis committee must be satisfied that the thesis topic is of doctoral quality and that the student’s background is adequate to carry out the proposed research.

Out of the total 90 credit hours for the Ph.D., the specific Department of Physics requirements for graduation are at least 33 credit hours of courses, including at least 6 credits taken outside of the department and at least 6 credits of seminar. The courses taken in physics must include PH661, PH663, PH664, PH669, and PH670. The requirement for PH664 and PH670 (passing grade) can be fulfilled any time during the course of study, and the student’s advisor can approve the replacement of these two courses with other advanced graduate courses in the student’s chosen research field.

Each semester of full-time study in residence at Clarkson prior to the completion of 78 credits, students must register for and obtain a passing grade in PH683 or PH684 (Graduate Seminar). Each spring or fall semester that they are registered for credit hours, students who at the time receive any financial support via the University, such as through a full- or part-time teaching or research assistantship, tuition discount, etc., must take at least 1 credit of PH699.

An oral presentation and defense of the written doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee are required. The thesis committee members must be appointed and receive research proposal copies at least 10 working days before the oral defense.

General Admission Requirements


Students must have a BS or equivalent degree in physics/closely related subject. Admission to the physics MS program depends on approval by the Physics Graduate Committee.

A complete application file consists of the following:

  • application form
  • resume and statement of purpose
  • letters of recommendation — three letters required
  • official transcripts
  • test scores — GRE* and a score of 80 for TOEFL/6.5 for IELTS (if applicable)

*GRE may be waived for some applicants.

Supplemental information may be submitted if desired; this could include any other information that may help us evaluate your application.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 14, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
Full time
USA - Potsdam, New York
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
USA - Potsdam, New York
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info