If so, he or she must give four weeks notice to the group leader and the Division Head. Before deciding to discontinue funding after a trial period the faculty member must discuss any issues of concern with the student. The faculty member must notify the student of his or her intention to discontinue funding at least six weeks before the term ends. In special cases where a research area has made a prior written commitment to provide a full academic year of research support for an incoming student, the area will offer an alternative second semester RA to a student whose first semester RA has been terminated.
The letter should be approved in advance by the Division Head and sent to both the student and the academic advisor. In order to give the student time to make the changes justifying continued support the following dates will apply. In the event that a student whose funding has been terminated is not able to secure another research position prior to the start of the next semester, the Department will guarantee one term of support in the form of a transitional TA. If the termination of an RA occurs at the end of the spring semester and the student is unable to find other support for the summer, the Department will make an effort to find summer support for the student.
The one semester transitional TA would then be available in the fall, if needed. Students have a responsibility to continue working in their research group as instructed by their research advisor as long as they are being supported.
Questions about this process should be directed to the Academic Administrator. Committee members are available to discuss, in private, problems encountered by either the student or the research supervisor before formal action takes place.
Additional resources are listed on the front page of the Guidelines. The normal degree program in the Department leads to a Ph.
On occasion, a student admitted for a Ph. In these cases the student may be able to satisfy the requirements for the Masters degree. Each fall and spring term students must meet with their academic advisor to complete their registration. Meetings are not required for summer registration, but each student must still take responsibility for registering on line for an appropriate number of units, either in 8. After a student has electronically requested a change, the advisor must approve it and the student must then submit the approved change.
The Add date is about five weeks into the term and the Drop date is about three weeks before the last day of classes. Pre-registration for all terms is done on-line via WebSIS. The form consists of a few basic questions on the progress the student made in the preceding year as well as goals for the coming year, and should be turned in to the Academic Administrator some time shortly after Registration Day by the student after the advisor has signed it.
The Department does not require PhD students to take any subjects other than those needed to satisfy the specialty and breadth requirements described below. However, many students begin by taking some combination of graduate Quantum Mechanics 8. Not only have these subjects been proven to give students a broad view of basic physics, but each of them with the exception of 8. As of fall , a new subject, 8.
First-year students concerned with the level of their undergraduate preparation are encouraged to consider taking senior-level undergraduate subjects such as Electricity and Magnetism 8. Some first-year students may wish to sample basic graduate subjects in specialty areas: Atomic and Optical Physics 8. While planning their first year program, students should keep in mind that the normal subject load for those with full time RAs is two academic subjects, or about 24 units.
Masters candidates must complete 66 units, 42 of which must be graduate-level subjects. A thesis is required; however, an oral thesis defense is not required. The thesis will be assigned a grade by the research supervisor in consultation with the thesis committee.
During the first three years of graduate study students must demonstrate a mature grasp of the whole field of physics and detailed knowledge of their chosen area of physics. Students should discuss their plans for preparing for the examination with their research supervisor and academic advisor.
The purpose of the general examination is to assure the Department that its graduates have a broad background in physics and a firm understanding of a particular branch of physics.
The examination is given in the fall and spring terms and consists of one written part and one oral part. The general examination consists of two parts. The Written Exam is a five-hour examination; the Oral Exam is approximately two hours long. The Written Exam is given prior to the first week of each term. Applications must be submitted to Academic Programs at least two weeks prior to taking the exam.
The questions for each part of the exam are prepared by committees of physics faculty members. The questions are subsequently screened by faculty who are assigned to grade each part of the exam. A committee of three faculty members administers the oral portion of the general examination during the second half of each term. By the middle of the term, the General Examination and Requirements Coordinator identifies oral exam committees in each research area.
The student is responsible for scheduling the exam with the committee and notifying Academic Programs of the exam day, time, and place. The Written Exam consists of two problems in each of four areas — quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, electricity and magnetism and classical mechanics. Demonstration of core competence in all areas may be achieved in one of two ways.
A student may pass each area either by passing one of the two problems on the Written Exam, or by completing the corresponding graduate-level course for classical mechanics, 8. Each student must attempt all parts of the Written Exam that they have not already passed by January of their first year. Because the graduate EM class, 8. There will be students who learn in their first January that they should have taken 8. Students who fail the EM section of the Written Exam in their first January may study for and pass this in their second August or they may choose to take 8.
All students must satisfy all four components of the Written Exam requirement by the end of the January of their second year. This committee will not give a special oral exam. In most cases, it will confirm that the student must switch to a Masters degree status. In unusual cases, this committee could instead recommend to the Associate Department Head that the student be allowed to continue in the Ph. This decision would be made by the Associate Department Head. Students with supervisors outside of the department will be examined in the research field of the co-supervisor.
The designated Committee Chair for each field will host a meeting of examinees at the start of each term to review exam expectations. Under normal circumstances, the chair will ask the research supervisor to suggest a question to be used for this purpose.
The oral exam committee consists of the chairperson and two other faculty members. Each research field will appoint one committee each year to examine all students within that field.
The research supervisor may observe the exam and provide input if solicited by committee members. The supervisor and student will be asked to leave the examination room when the final decision is discussed. The first attempt at the oral exam must be made by the first term of the third year.
Two attempts are permitted with the second attempt, if necessary, scheduled in the subsequent term. If the subsequent term precedes the third year, a student may postpone the second attempt until the beginning of the third year. Postponements for taking any part of the general examination are granted only under unusual circumstances.
Requests for postponement of the Written Exam must be submitted one month prior to the exam. Requests for postponement of the Oral portion must be submitted by September 30th for the fall term and by February 28th for the spring term. A request to postpone any portion of the general examination must be made in writing e-mail is acceptable to the research supervisor. The request must include a clear justification.
The research supervisor will add comments and forward the request to the General Examination and Requirements Coordinator. A student with no research supervisor should submit the request through his or her academic advisor. Appeals should be addressed to the Associate Department Head for Education, who will consult with appropriate faculty members when reviewing the case. The Written General Exam is graded by physics faculty.
A General Exam Committee meets to review the results and determine who passes and who fails. There is no fixed percentage of students who pass, nor is there a fixed passing score. The difficulty of the examinations varies somewhat from year to year, and this is taken into account.
For a given exam there is a range of grades that clearly indicates a passing performance. Similarly, there is a range of grades that clearly indicates failure. The exams of students with grades between these limits are reviewed in detail by members of the Committee. If a student is repeating an exam, the earlier performance is taken into account. A student who ultimately fails any part of the general examination will be asked to withdraw from the Ph. To reenter the Ph. Students are required to take two basic one-semester subjects in their research specialty three in Nuclear and Particle Theory.
These subjects are central to the research area and it is advantageous to complete them as early as possible. Substituting for any of the following subjects requires a request in writing or e-mail to the appropriate Division Head.
After commenting, the Division Head will forward the request to the General Examination and Requirements Coordinator who will send notification of the decision. Nuclear and Particle Theory 8. Experimental Nuclear and Particle Physics 8. At least one of these must be from the list below. Both must be passed with a grade of B- or better. If only one breadth requirement is taken from this list, students may request approval of a second course that is not on the list if it genuinely satisfies the two stated objectives of the breadth requirement: To request approval for a course, a student should write a short but clear email or letter explaining why the course satisfies these two objectives.
If the course is in another department, the message should tersely explain on the basis of the course description or curriculum, why it should be considered learning about physics.
The student should also succinctly state his or her research specialty and thesis topic, and explain why the course should be considered as being outside this research area. A short paragraph is sufficient to convey the necessary information. The student should send the request to his or her academic advisor and, if necessary, discuss and modify the content to obtain the advisor's approval.
The advisor should then forward the request, with his or her approval, to the General Examination and Requirements Coordinator who will send notification of the decision. Most graduate students are supported by Research Assistantships. RAs become involved in a research project as soon as they begin their assistantship, and this often leads to a thesis topic. TAs and Fellows should look for a research group during the first year. Prior to thesis research, students get academic credit for their research by registering for Pre-Thesis Research 8.
While many students stay with their first research group, some register for Pre-Thesis Research in two or more research areas before finding a research topic suitable for a thesis. All graduate students conduct research that eventually leads to a thesis, but there are many different paths to gaining a research project. Students are expected to register for thesis and be assigned a thesis committee by the first term of their fourth year of graduate school see Thesis section.
Any person who holds a Faculty or Senior Research Scientist appointment in the Physics Department may serve as a research supervisor. Under special circumstances, a faculty member outside the Department may supervise a student this includes other MIT departments or Physics Departments at other institutions.
Prior to embarking on a research project with an outside supervisor, the student must obtain a Departmental co-supervisor. In consultation with the research supervisor, the student should find a Faculty member in the Physics Department who agrees to be the co-supervisor. The co-supervisor will maintain close contact with the research as it progresses and must ultimately co-sign the thesis. The student should submit a Research Co-Supervision Form , which requires the signatures of the research supervisor and co-supervisor.
This form must be submitted to Academic Programs. No funding will be administered by the Department of Physics until this form is submitted. To broaden the graduate experience, the Graduate Committee encourages physics graduate students to arrange an externship in an industrial or national laboratory at some time during their graduate career.
The Department recognizes that the demands of MIT research may make it difficult for students to consider this opportunity, but it also believes that the benefits can outweigh the possible conflicts.
Students seeking externships should discuss the issue with their research supervisor and schedule the externship to minimize disruption of research. Interested students should contact the Academic Administrator and provide her with a curriculum vitae. Students must register for thesis and be assigned a thesis committee no later than the first term of their fourth year of graduate school. It is strongly recommended that students register for thesis in a term earlier than this final deadline.
The first step is for the student and research supervisor to agree on a thesis topic. The form requires an initial thesis title, the name and signature of the research supervisor and the name of one reader for the thesis committee agreed upon by the student and supervisor. The student should register for 8.
A third reader from the Physics faculty, who is not in the same research area, but whose interests, background, or special knowledge make him or her an appropriate member of the committee, will be assigned by the Graduate Student Coordinator. Thus, in general, a thesis committee has three members supervisor, selected reader, assigned reader.
If there is also a co-supervisor see above , the thesis committee will consist of four people. At that meeting the student makes an oral presentation to the thesis committee of a detailed proposal for a research program that would subsequently become the Ph.
The student should demonstrate a thorough knowledge of relevant literature, explain the significance of the research to progress in the field, and present a well-thought-out program of research, including contingency plans.
After that meeting, and based on the discussion, the student will develop a written proposal consisting of a one- or two-page description of the body of work that is to comprise the thesis. This proposal is submitted to Academic Programs, approximately two weeks before the end of the term a specific date will be determined each semester. Subsequent changes in title, scope, supervisor s , or readers may be made with the written approval of the Graduate Student Coordinator.
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