Ph.D. Degree


Previous Graduate Work
Certain requirements may be modified for students who have done equivalent graduate work elsewhere. Students should consult with the chair of the Graduate Committee to verify the application of the guidelines described below to their particular case. Graduate-level courses taken elsewhere may be substituted for required courses for the masters and/or PhD degree when the student can demonstrate high achievement in the course and mastery of the material. The suitability of previous work will be evaluated by means of an interview, or multiple interviews if necessary, with an appropriate faculty member (e.g., the Rice professor who teaches the Rice equivalent graduate course). Final approval must be given by the Associate Chair for the Graduate Program

Advice and Support for Graduate Students 
Further details on the program, especially on advising, is given in the Department's Graduate Student Handbook. The handbook is meant as a resource for P&A graduate students, providing a handy, concise guide to essential information about the graduate degree program, but it is only one source of information. If you cannot find the answers to your departmental programmatic questions here, please do not hesitate to contact the departmental staff (including the graduate program coordinator, Rosa Almendarez), the Chairs of the Graduate Program Committee (currently Han Pu), the Associate Chair of the department (Stan Dodds), or the Departmental Ombudsperson (currently David Alexander). All faculty and staff serve as part of the support network for graduate students, but the ombudsman in particular is a good person to contact for confidential discussion and advice on a wide range of topics. 

For current students, faculty are specifically assigned as graduate student advisors to answer academic questions. We are available to guide you through the process. That being said, graduate students are adults, and there is a presumption that students will take responsibility and initiative – these are certainly necessary for a successful doctoral degree! Please ask questions and keep on top of deadlines and requirements. We look forward to working with you.

To complete the Ph.D. degree a candidate must write a doctoral thesis and publicly defend it in the final oral examination. The committee that administers the final oral examination for the Ph.D. is composed of two faculty members or Faculty Fellows from the department, and an additional Rice faculty member from outside the Physics and Astronomy department. The formal requirements are:

  • The student must complete all course work specified for their matriculating class and any additional courses required by the thesis advisor.
  • The student must satisfactorily complete four semesters of teaching practicum.
  • The transcript must show at least 90 semester hours credit, including research beyond the Bachelor's Degree. At least 60 semester hours of this study must be done as a full-time student in residence at Rice.
  • The student must successfully complete a research project involving independent and original work. The work must be reported in an approved thesis, and defended in a public oral examination.

After degree conferral, the transcript will show the following:

Major: Physics
Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy