All students are expected to take the graduate core curriculum in physics consisting of PHYS 521 -PHYS 522 , PHYS 531 , PHYS 541 , PHYS 551 , and PHYS 571 . Students concentrating in chemical physics may substitute CHEM 572 for PHYS 551 and should complete at least 6 hours from CHEM 530 , CHEM 570 , CHEM 571 , CHEM 573 , CHEM 595 , CHEM 630 , CHEM 670 , and CHEM 690 . Students must take a minimum of 15 hours of 600-level courses with 6 of these hours in their concentration area. PHYS 601 -PHYS 602 are normally required of students concentrating in atomic physics; PHYS 621 -PHYS 622 of students in nuclear physics; PHYS 626 -PHYS 627 of students in elementary particle physics (and/or PHYS 611 -PHYS 612 for students concentrating in theoretical elementary particle physics); PHYS 615 -PHYS 616 of students in astrophysics and cosmology; and PHYS 671 -PHYS 672 of students in condensed matter and surface physics.
Students concentrating in nanomaterials must take a minimum 15 hours of 600-level courses, of which at least 6 hours are offered by the department and at least 6 hours are from a list of courses offered by several departments which are appropriate for a concentration in nanomaterials. This list is available from the Director of the Graduate Program. In addition to the departmental core curriculum listed above, they must take additional courses at the 400- through 500-level, with at least 6 hours offered by the department and 6 hours from the list.
To be admitted to PhD candidacy, students must fulfill all general requirements of the Graduate Council; pass the qualifying examination; have at least a 3.0 GPA on the graduate core curriculum in physics; form a doctoral committee; and pass the comprehensive examination.
The qualifying examination is designed to test the student’s general knowledge of the fundamentals of physics. The performance needed to pass this examination corresponds to a mature command of the material typically included in the undergraduate physics major curriculum. The qualifying examination should be passed after the student’s first year of study. Based on the student’s performance on the qualifying examinations, the course work, the GRE scores, and optional research participation, the faculty will decide if the student will be allowed to continue in the PhD program.
Students are required to find a research advisor and form a doctoral committee before the end of the second year of study. This committee is responsible for advising the student and monitoring his/her progress toward the doctoral degree.
The comprehensive examination is designed to test the student on specific knowledge and skills in the areas essential to the student’s research program; on capability to successfully complete the doctoral dissertation; and on general knowledge of the graduate core curriculum. The most essential component of this examination is the presentation and defense of an original research proposal. The comprehensive examination must be passed before the end of the third year of study. It contains both a written and an oral component and is conducted by the student’s doctoral committee and an additional faculty member appointed by the department head.
The dissertation topic will be chosen with reference to one of the fields in which research facilities can be made available either at the University of Tennessee laboratories in Knoxville; the University of Tennessee Space Institute at Tullahoma, Tennessee; the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; or at other research facilities used by the university faculty.