Ph.D. in Physics (Physics or Astronomy Track)


The doctoral degree in physics may be completed with an emphasis in physics, or through the Astronomy Track, with an emphasis in astronomy. The degree requirements are similar for the two tracks but the specific coursework requirements differ.  Students who follow the Astronomy Track will receive a designation on their final transcript indicating that they have been awarded the Ph.D. in Physics (Astronomy).

The Doctor of Philosophy program in physics requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, corresponding to coursework at the 3000-level and above. Of the required 72 s.h. at least 24 s.h. must be in physics or astronomy courses at the 5000-level and above (excluding PHYS:7990, PHYS:7992, ASTR:7991, and seminars).

Graduate students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in physics must pass a qualifying examination in all principal areas of physics at the level of advanced undergraduate work.  The examination, which may be repeated only once, is given each year before the beginning of the spring semester.  Students must pass the qualifying examination before the beginning of their fourth semester of graduate work at The University of Iowa. The qualifying exam is waived for students who have a Physics GRE Subject exam score of 630 or higher.

All Ph.D. students must also pass a Comprehensive Examination; participate in advanced seminars; do original research in experimental physics, theoretical physics, or astrophysics; and prepare and defend a written dissertation based on this work.

Course Requirements

Ph.D. candidates are recommended for the degree when they have written and defended their dissertation and, with the approval of their research advisor, have submitted the results for formal publication in a widely distributed, refereed scientific journal.