There are two primary milestones on the path to a Ph.D. degree. First is the mastery of the basic principles of physics and the development of a broad understanding of all the major areas of physics. This is normally acquired through course work and demonstrated by passing the General Doctoral Examination. Second is the performance of original research in a special area of physics that culminates in the successful defense of a Ph.D. dissertation.
When a student enters the graduate program, an advisor will be assigned to help formulate a plan of study. The first stage of a graduate student's tenure is normally spent preparing for the General Doctoral Exam and exploring the various research programs in the department. When the student is ready, before or after the General Doctoral Exam is completed, the research field is selected and a major professor and an advisory committee are chosen to guide the student through the remainder of the graduate program.
Sixty (60) hours of course work beyond a bachelor's degree are required for a Ph.D. degree at Auburn University. Of the 60 required, 30 must be graded course work with at least 9 being at the 8000level. Ten (10) hours of Research and Dissertation (PHYS8990) are required.
The following courses are required:
Graded:
Classical Mechanics (PHYS7100)  3 hrs.
Electricity and Magnetism I & II (PHYS7200 & 7250)  6 hrs.
Quantum Mechanics I & II(PHYS7300 & 7350)  6 hrs.
Statistical Physics (PHYS7400)  3 hrs.
Courses at 8000level  9 hrs.
Additional Electives 3 hrs.
Ungraded:
Colloquium (PHYS7950)  6 hrs.
Research and Dissertation (PHYS8990)  10 hrs.
Additional Hours:
Electives that may be graded or ungraded  14 hrs.
While the required courses are taught each year, the other graduate courses are taught on a 2 year
cycle as shown in the following table.
COURSE/YEAR  (Yr 1)

(Yr 2)

PHYS6100  Applications of Quantum Mechanics 
x

x

PHYS6500  Fundamentals of Physics 
x

x

PHYS6600  Frontiers of Physics 
x

x

PHYS6610  Introduction to Solid State Physics  x  
PHYS6620  Survey of Plasma Physics  x  
PHYS7520  Nonlinear Dynamics  x  
PHYS7540  Nonlinear Statistical Mechanics  x  
PHYS8100  Relativistic Quantum Mechanics  x  
PHYS8200  Introduction to Atomic Physics  x  
PHYS8600  Plasma Physics  x  
PHYS8700  Solid State Physics  x  
PHYS8970  Special Topics in Advanced Physics 
x

x
