General Exam Guidelines

The purpose of the General Examination is to ascertain the student’s knowledge in the core areas of Physics and to officially certify the student’s academic progress for further studies towards candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  Passing these examinations is required for the student to become a candidate for the PhD. 

Currently, the core areas are Classical Mechanics, Classical Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics I and Statistical Mechanics. In addition to these four core courses, the standard course curriculum of the first three semesters consists of lecture courses in Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics and Quantum Mechanics II, as well as the three numerically-oriented courses Computational Physics I, II, and III.


Eligibility and Format

Any physics graduate student is eligible for the general examination. A student passes the General Examination if both of the following criteria are fulfilled:

  1. The cumulative graduate GPA of all courses of the standard course curriculum as defined above is 3.0 or higher. If the student follows the standard curriculum, that is the cumulative GPA after the grades of the last course of the third semester has been added. 

  2. At most one grade in the core areas is C, but not lower.

If the GPA is below 3.0 or if the student has two grades of C or lower in the core areas, the student fails the General Examination and the Director of Graduate Studies recommends to the Dean that the student be dismissed from the program for lack of academic progress. The student is immediately informed of the decision.

Exam Format and Rules (PDF)