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 Requirements for the Applied Physics Ph.D.
2006 and Beyond

 
 
Applied Physics Program:  Rice University offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Physics.  The
objective of the Applied Physics Program (APP) is to provide interdisciplinary graduate education and
opportunities for students particularly interested in basic research with technological applications.  Such
interests cut across the traditional lines of several Natural Sciences and Engineering departments
represented in the Rice Quantum Institute: Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Electrical and Computer
Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
Bioengineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Computational and Applied Mathematics.  The
APP is overseen by the Applied Physics Curriculum Committee (APCC), which consists of faculty
representatives from a number of these departments.  While students in the APP affiliate with specific
departments according to their backgrounds and interests and advisors, they are able to customize their
curriculum in an interdisciplinary manner according to the needs of their individual research pursuits.  The
ability to work effectively across multiple disciplines is of increasing importance for careers based on new
and emerging technologies.
 
Students who are offered 9-month fellowships for graduate studies in the APP are accepted by an
appropriate host department and enjoy day-to-day association with faculty and students in that department.  
Stipend rates and required teaching/grading duties are set by the host department.  During the fall and
spring semesters of this first year, APP students work on satisfying their curricular requirements (described
below) and making the choice of research advisor from any of the RQI faculty in any department.  Starting
in the 10th month and continuing throughout subsequent years, the faculty advisor is responsible for funding
of the student's stipend and research expenses.  Should the advisor be in a different department, the APP
student will then ordinarily change affiliating departments.  All changes of affiliation are submitted to the
Excutive Assistant and sent to the APCC as well as the old and new departments for approval.
 
 
Curriculum Requirements:  For either M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in Applied Physics, the student must fulfill
the University requirements set forth in the catalog under which he/she entered.  The semester hour
requirements may be fulfilled both by classroom hours and research hours.  Nine one-semester graduate
level courses are required, divided into 4 Core and 5 Elective courses.

Core Courses: (1) Quantum Mechanics I.  Either PHYS 521 or CHEM 530
 (2) Either Quantum Mechanics II or Statistical Mechanics
  For Quantum Mechanics II, either PHYS 522 or CHEM 531
  For Statistical Mechanics, either PHYS 526 or CHEM 520
 (3) Classical Electrodynamics.  PHYS 532
 (4) Solid State Physics. PHYS/ELEC 563
 
Elective Courses: Five courses may be selected from a list of approved courses offered by different
departments in Natural Sciences and Engineering.  These are chosen according to the
research directions of the student.  The up-to-date list is maintained at http://rqi.rice.edu.  
Other courses may be considered to count as electives on a case-by-case basis by
petitioning and obtaining approval from the APCC.
 
Grade Requirements: A grade of at least B– must be achieved in each of the four Core courses.  A Core
course may be repeated once to bring the grade up to this level, applicable to a maximum
of 2 Core courses.  The overall Grade Point Average of all Core and Elective Courses
must be a B (3.0) or better.  For repeated Core courses, the GPA calculation for
satisfaction of this requirement will not include the first grades of repeated Core courses.
 
Course Waivers: Particular Core course requirements may be waived for students who have had similar
courses elsewhere and who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the material in the
course at Rice.  The concurrence of the faculty member teaching the relevant course at
Rice and the APCC must be obtained.
 
No courses may be used for both Core and Elective requirements. Due to overlap of curricula, only one
from each of the pairs PHYS 521/CHEM 530, PHYS 522/CHEM 531 and PHYS 526/CHEM 520 may be
used for the nine required courses.
 
 
Teaching Requirements:  Each APP student is expected as part of their graduate education to perform
some teaching and/or grading.  The precise duties are set by the host department, which subsequently
provides written certification of fulfillment of teaching/grading responsibilities to the APP. 

M.S. in Applied Physics/Advancement to Candidacy for Ph.D.:  By the end of the third year in the
program, all APP students should have
 
(1) completed the University requirements for a Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Physics,
(2) fulfilled the course requirements of the APP,
(3) fulfilled the teaching requirements of the affiliating department, and
(4) defended a Master’s thesis in a public oral examination by an APCC-approved committee.
 
The written M.S. thesis must be based on the ongoing research or publication(s) resulting from research
already performed in the APP.  The examination covers the work reported in the research thesis as well as
the entire field in which the student intends to work toward the Ph.D.  The examining committee votes
separately on awarding the Master’s Degree and on Advancement to Candidacy for the Ph.D.  If a similar
M.S. has already been earned under another school/program, the candidate may petition the APCC to waive
the M.S. requirement, though curricular and teaching requirements must still be fulfilled.
 
The examining committee for the M.S. defense should consist of at least three faculty, one of whom is the
research supervisor.  At least one of the committee members should be from the host department, and at
least one should be an RQI Fellow from a department other than the host department.
 
 
Ph.D. in Applied Physics: Fulfillment of all University degree requirements, successful completion of
curricular/teaching/M.S. requirements, and successful defense of a Ph.D. thesis in a public examination by
an APCC–approved committee are necessary for the Ph.D. Degree.  The candidate must be enrolled and
engaged in a research project involving the candidate's own independent and original work as approved by
the research advisor.
 
The examining committee for the Ph.D. defense should consist of at least three faculty, one of whom is the
research supervisor. Of the remaining committee members, at least one should be from the host department,                       
and at least one should be an RQI Fellow from a department other than the host department.
 
 
Nanophotonics Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program: An
interdisciplinary program in Nanophotonics provides two-year traineeships for science and engineering
students with the educational and research training to develop new tools for generating, controlling and
manipulating light at nanoscale dimensions.  The IGERT students form a subset of the APP with a
customized set of curricular requirements -- see http://nanoigert.rice.edu for more details.