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physics & astronomy graduate student handbook









Fall 2012


Version 2012.11.28



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        Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Graduate Study

        2.1. Overview of Graduate Degrees and Research Areas

        2.2. Overview of Funding for Graduate Study

                2.2.1. Assistantships and Tuition Benefits 3                 2.2.2. Health Insurance and Family Leave

        2.3. Administrative and Academic Tasks

        2.4. Timetables for Degree Programs

        2.5. Getting Course Credits: Transfers, Waivers and Grading Policy

        2.6. Academic Progress

                2.6.1. Good Academic Standing

                2.6.2. Change of Research Advisor

                2.6.3. Change of Address: Residency Requirements

                2.6.4. Leave of Absence, Time-limit Extension & Dematriculation

3. Program Descriptions and Degree Requirements

        3.1. Ph.D. in Physics

                3.1.1. Astronomy & Astrophysics Emphasis 17                 3.1.2. Medical Physics Emphasis

                3.1.3. Physics Education Specialization

        3.2. Ph.D. in Chemical Physics

        3.3. M.S. in Physics

        3.4. M.S. in Physics Instrumentation (MSI)

        3.5. M.S. in Computational Physics

4. Assistantships and Fellowships

        4.1.Teaching Assistantships, Teaching Fellowships & Research Assistantships

        4.2. Teaching Assistant (TA) Responsibilities

        4.3. TA Assignment Procedures & Considerations

        4.4. Summary Items for TAs

5. Graduate Student Resources

        5.1. International Student Information

        5.2. Disability Services

        5.3. Health and Counseling Services

        5.4. Conflicts: Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Academic Disputes

        5.5. Beyond Classes: Other Educational Resources

        5.6. On-line Resources: Getting Funded, Writing a Thesis, Finding a Job, and More

        5.7. Good Things to do When You Need a Break: Exploring SLC and UT

6. Additional Departmental Information

        6.1. List of Graduate Courses in Physics and Astronomy

        6.2. Faculty Research Specializations


        A. Graduate Advising Checklist

        B. Graduate Lab Course Requirement

        C. Proposed Degree Specializations

List of Tables

Degree Offerings

Research Areas (including facilities and collaborations)

Ph.D. program example timetable

M.S. program example timetable ..

Ph.D. Physics Course Curriculum .

Ph.D. Physics with Astronomy & Astrophysics Emphasis, Course Curriculum .

M.S. Physics Course Curriculum ..

M.S. Instrumentation (MSI-Physics) Course Curriculum .

M.S. Computational Physics Course Curriculum ..

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Welcome to the Graduate Program in Physics and Astronomy! If you are like most students in our program, then you are undertaking graduate study to accomplish several goals: first, to develop a broad and sophisticated knowledge of the field as a whole; second, to acquire a deep and thorough understanding of some specialized field; to contribute to the body of knowledge of that field through your own research; and finally, to prepare the foundation for a rewarding career in Physics, Astronomy, or one of the many diverse fields of industry and finance to which physicists contribute.


We offer a number of options to achieve these goals. Most of our students seek a Ph.D. in Physics, but we also confer Ph.D.s in Chemical Physics and Physics with formal emphasis in Medical Physics or Physics Education. We offer several types of MasterŐs degrees as well: the M.S. in Instrumentation Physics (MSI), the M.S. in Computational Physics, and a MasterŐs degree in Physics. We admit students into our program as MasterŐs degree candidates only for the first two M.S. degrees. The role of the MasterŐs in Physics is to provide either a milestone or an alternative to the Ph.D. for predoctoral students.


Your choice of research specialization can define your career. We offer a wide range of subject areas including Astronomy & Astrophysics, Atomic physics, Biophysics, Chemical Physics, Condensed Matter, and High-energy/Particle Physics. In addition some of us work in multidisciplinary specializations, for example, nanoscience and medical physics. A current list of our specializations, with links to the names faculty working in those areas is here:


A big part of your graduate experience will be related to how you financially handle being in grad school. It is typical for your tuition to be covered under the UniversityŐs Tuition Benefits Program, which is available to you if you serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or work as a Research Assistant (RA) for your thesis advisor. While there are time limitations, you will find that the benefits offered by the University enable you to keep focused on progress toward your degree, meanwhile providing allowance for day-to-day expenses, including health insurance.


This handbook contains information on the graduate experience in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. We cover the rules—namely degree requirements such as which courses to take, and what exams youŐll need to pass—as well as policy regarding teaching assistantships (TA), the all-important rules of tuition benefits, and even a little about life as a graduate student. Along the way, you will find links to resources, which we compile toward end of this handbook (Section 4). We start you off with this link:


It points to the Graduate School, the ultimate authority on policy concerning all of the University of UtahŐs graduate programs. Please peruse it for the wealth it contains! Then explore this handbook. We hope that it helps make your graduate experience here in our own Department rich and rewarding!

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¾ Director of Graduate Studies (DoGS)

                                    Department of Physics and Astronomy


  • That is it for the






  • There are certain common points in the administrative and academic flow of our graduate degree offerings and we describe them here. The goal is to give you a sense of what your obligations are, and to provide tips on how to most efficiently complete your degree program.



    2.1. Overview of Graduate Degrees and Research Areas

  • Here we summarize the various degrees we offer and the areas of specialization in our Department. Section 3 has details about each degree offering.


  •                                     Adam Bolton (observational cosmology and galaxy evolution)

                                        Ben Bromley (theoretical astrophysics, origin of solar systems, galactic dynamics)

                                        Kyle Dawson (observational cosmology, instrumentation)

                                        Paolo Gondolo (cosmology, high-energy theory, dark matter)

                                        Inese Ivans (observational galactic archaeology and stellar populations)

                                        Dave Kieda (gamma-ray astronomy, active galactic nuclei)

                                        Stephan LeBohec (gamma-ray astronomy, active galactic nuclei)

                                        Pearl Sandick (cosmology, particle phenomenology, dark matter)

                                        Anil Seth (observational astronomy, galaxy nuclei, nearby galaxy histories)

                                        Wayne Springer (particle astrophysics)

                                        Zheng Zheng (theoretical astrophysics, cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution)



    Please see: for more information.

    Required Degree Elements


    Common Exam

    The following core courses:

    o ASTR 6410 Grad Research in Astronomy & Astrophysics (3 credit hours)

    o PHYS 7110 Classical Mechanics/E&M I (4)

    o   ASTR 7130 Radiative Processes or PHYS 7120 E&M II (4)

    o PHYS 7220 Quantum Theory I (4)

    Three or more of the following courses, at least one of which must be at the 7000 level:

    o ASTR 5015 Observational Methods and Data Analysis (3)

    o ASTR 5560 Stars and Stellar Populations (3)

    o ASTR 5570 Galaxies (3)

    o ASTR 5580 Cosmology (3)

    o ASTR 5590 Stellar Astrophysics (3)

    o PHYS 7310 Statistical Mechanics (3)

    o PHYS 7640 Quantum Field Theory I (or PHYS 7650 QFT II) (3)

    o PHYS 7720 General Relativity and Relativistic Astrophysics (3)

    o ASTR 7730 Mathematical Methods for Astrophysics (3)

    o   Any of the following courses, to be developed within the next five years:
                      Galactic Dynamics, Cosmochemistry, Data Mining, Advanced Particle Physics,
                      Gas Dynamics/Hydrodynamics, Compact Objects.

    PHYS 7800 (2 credit-hours) or 7810 (1-2 credit hours) Colloquium Course (first 6 semesters);

    Breadth Requirement: graduate-level physics course outside area of specialization (3 credit hours)

    Electives: Any 5000-level or above course(s) needed for specialization

    Program of Study Approval

    Qualifying Exam

    Research Credits (6970, recommended)

    Milestone MasterŐs (recommended)

    Thesis Research (14-credit hours)

    Thesis Defense


    Description of Required Elements:


    This program leads to a Physics Ph.D., and is identical to the standard track except for the required courses and electives as listed above. These changes in the curriculum allow you to study physics in the broad context of astrophysical systems. To emphasize, all requirements such as the Common Exam, Qualifying Exam, are identical to those listed in Section 3.1. Please refer to the information contained therein.


       Research credits. You are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with the variety of research in the Department as soon as possible. Thus, consider taking supervised research credits (PHYS 6970, 3 credit hours) with one or more of the Astronomy/Astrophysics faculty; then you can participate in one or more short-term projects to help guide you toward your doctoral thesis research.


       Supervisory Committee. When you form your Supervisory Committee, make sure that you have one faculty member who is in the Department and NOT doing astrophysics or astronomy. For example, if you are doing work in observational astronomy, find a theorist in an area other than astrophysics.

       Preparatory courses. Some students may enter the Ph.D. program with a strong interest in astronomy, yet with no formal training. The core courses will cover the most important preparatory material but cannot cover all of the fundamentals in a semester. If you do not have much of an astronomy background, or want to familiarize yourself with the nomenclature and basic concepts, there are routes by which you can prepare yourself: (1) ask the instructors of the ASTR courses at the 5000-level or higher for advice on recommended reading -- what material would they consider to be Chapter Zero; (2) arrange to audit (with the instructor's permission) undergraduate classes that interest you; (3) ask about obtaining a teaching assistantship for an undergraduate astronomy class aimed at science students -- you know the physics better than they do and you can learn the astrophysical applications together; and (4) get involved in research -- learning the background literature for well-defined projects and presenting results at national meetings such as the American Astronomical Society ( or the American Physical Society ( is a fun, efficient, and professional way of getting up to speed.


    Summary of Administrative items


    The list of academic and administrative benchmarks is the same as in the standard Physics Ph.D. case.


                Physics Ph.D., Astronomy & Astrophysics Emphasis Course Curriculum [1]



    Fall Semester

    Spring Semester

    Year 1

    ASTR 5015 Obs. Methods (3)

    PHYS 7110 Class. Mech./E&M I (4)
    PHYS 7220 Quantum Theory I[2] (4)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1)

    ASTR 5560 Stars & Stellar Pops. (3)
    ASTR 6410 Grad Research class (4)

    ASTR 7130 Radiative Processes (4)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1)

    Year 2

    ASTR 5580 Cosmology (3)

    ASTR 7730 Astro Math-Meth (3)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1)

    [PHYS 6970 Research] (2-5)

    ASTR 5570 Galaxies (3)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1) [PHYS 6970 Research AND/OR
    Breadth Requirement] (5-8)



    Fall Semester

    Spring Semester

    Year 1

    ASTR 5580 Cosmology (3)

    PHYS 7110 Class. Mech./E&M I (4) PHYS 7220 Quantum Theory I[2] (4)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1)

    ASTR 5570 Galaxies (3)
    ASTR 6410 Grad Research class (3)

    PHYS 7800 Colloquium (2)

    [PHYS 6970 Research AND/OR
    Breadth Requirement] (5-8)

    Year 2

    ASTR 5015 Obs. Methods (3)

    ASTR 7000-level TBD (3)

    PHYS 7800 Colloquium (2)

    [PHYS 6970 Research] (2-5)

    ASTR 5560 Stars & Stellar Pops. (3)

    ASTR 7130 Radiative Process (4)

    PHYS 7810 Colloquium (1) [PHYS 6970 Research AND/OR
    Breadth Requirement] (1-4)

    [1] Odd/Even tracks distinguish plans for students entering on odd years (Fall 2011, 2013,...) and even years (Fall 2012É). Courses listed explicitly with course numbers are required/recommended for the degree emphasis. Credit hours for each course are listed in parentheses. Note: a total of 9-12 credit hours per semester is required for Tuition Benefits for TAŐs, 9-11 credit hours for RAŐs.

    [2] Students needing the 3 credit hour English fluency course may take PHYS 7220 in the Fall semester of the second year.






    3.1.2. Ph.D. in Physics with Medical Physics Emphasis




    Medical Physics is the application of physics as applied to medical imaging and radiation therapy. We offer a Ph.D. in Physics with Medical Emphasis, which is distinct from the Ph.D. programs described above. The UofU has an excellent medical program, and our graduate students have often branched into medicine through this degree offering, doing cutting-edge work in radiology, for example. This degree program will often involve working with a faculty member outside of Physics and Astronomy, such as the Department of RadiologyŐs Advanced Imaging division (UCAIR), or the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCII). A list of possible research advisors includes


                      Werner Gellerman (Physics & Astronomy; Raman spectroscopy in clinical ophthalmology).

                      Brian Saam (Physics & Astronomy; MRI of lung with hyperpolarized noble gases).

                      Dennis Parker (Radiology; MRI, MR angiography).

                      Eun-Kee (E.K.) Jeong (Radiology, MR Physics, x-nuclei MR Imaging and Spectroscopy).

                      Ed DiBella (Radiology; Dynamic MRI with cardiac applications, PET).

                      Don Kadrmas (Radiology; PET physics, molecular imaging).

                      Daniel Kim (Radiology)

                      Chris Johnson (Scientific Computing and Imaging; parallel MRI).


    For more information, please check out the following links.


    Medical Physics Overview:

    Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research:


    Required Degree Elements


    Common Exam (or Physics GRE equivalent)

    Core Courses:

    o PHYS 6719 Graduate Lab (or equivalent) (3 credit-hours)

    o PHYS 7110 Classical Mechanics/E&M I (4)

    o PHYS 7220 Quantum Theory I (4)

    o PHYS 7740 Math Methods I (4)

    PLUS two of the following courses:

    o PHYS 7120 E&M II (4)

    o PHYS 7230 Quantum Theory II (4)

    o PHYS 7310 Statistical Mechanics (3)

    o PHYS 7750 Math Methods II (4)           

    PHYS 7800 (2 credit-hours) or PHYS 7810 (1-2 credit-hours) Colloquium Course (as in Physics Ph.D.)

    Breadth Requirement: graduate-level physics course outside area of specialization (3 credit-hours)

    Electives: Any graduate courses needed for specialization.

    Program of Study Approval

    Qualifying Exam

    Milestone MasterŐs (M.S. in Physics; recommended)

    Thesis Research (14-credit hours)

    Thesis Defense


    Description of Required Elements


    The requirements for the Medical Physics program are similar to those of the standard Physics Ph.D., except for the specific required courses and electives as listed above. Here are details:


       The Common Exam. All entering Medical Physics students need to take the Common Exam as the Physics predoctoral students. Please see:


    Common Exam:

       Supervisory Committee. Your thesis advisor may be from another department, but cannot technically serve as the chair of your Supervisory Committee without an exception from the Graduate School. There is no problem, since you only need to find a regular faculty member in the Department (preferably one in a field related to your research) willing to serve as chair. Then, the usual rules apply: For example, a majority of the five members must be regular faculty in the Department; one of this majority must not specialize in your area of research; one committee member must be from another department or university—two external members is better if one of them is your advisor.


    Core courses. As with the standard physics degree you have to take core courses. However, the list is slightly shorter to accommodate a more extensive set of electives, from which you get to choose two courses. Your research advisor and Supervisory Committee will help. Note: the Grad Lab requirement may be satisfied with PHYS 6719, or you may choose an equivalent course such as PHYS 6770/6775 (the lecture and lab parts of Optical Measurements) or Prof. JeongŐs MRI Lab (currently taught as PHYS 7910, special topics)—see Appendix B. Again, please consult with your advisor for guidance.


    Colloquium credits. The requirement can be satisfied the same as in the Physics Ph.D., but students may get credit for PHYS 7800/7810 while attending more specialized seminars, like UCAIRŐs RECON series. Just make arrangements with your advisor and our Graduate Coordinator, Jackie Hadley.


    Elective and breadth courses. Electives will typically focus on your area of specialization, while the breadth course gives you exposure to fresh ideas outside of your discipline. Each specialization (e.g., radiology) will have its own list of core course that you will take as Ňelectives.Ó Your research advisor will guide you. Examples:


    PHYS 6950: Special Topic, Physics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (2-3 credit hours)

    PHYSL 5200 (Physiology) Principles of Physiology (5)

    PHYSL 6050 (Physiology) General Physiology (2)

    BIOEN 5401 (Bioengineering) Medical Imaging Systems (3)

    RDLGY 7310 (Radiology) Advanced Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (3)

    RDLGY 7320 (Radiology) 3D Reconstruction Techniques in Medical Imaging (3)


    Program of Study. The final list of courses that you must take is determined by your thesis Supervisory Committee. With the possibility of needing more ŇelectivesÓ to learn the fundamentals of your discipline, you should convene your Committee as soon as possible.


    Summary of Administrative items


    The list of academic and administrative benchmarks is the same as for the standard Physics Ph.D.





    3.1.3. Ph.D. in Physics: Physics Education specialization




    The Department of Physics & Astronomy is involved in research and development activities in Physics Education. A Ph.D. candidate interested in the teaching of physics and in the research underpinnings of that teaching may wish to undertake a thesis topic in physics education leading toward a Ph.D. in Physics.


    A number of faculty members in Physics & Astronomy are willing to assume responsibility for supervising thesis research in this area. The DoGS or the Department Chair will know who among the faculty currently is involved in innovative educational projects or research within the University.


    Degree Requirements


    The degree conferred in this program is a Ph.D. in Physics, and has all the formal requirements described above. The main difference is a fundamental shift in focus of the Ph.D. research project to explore teaching and learning in physics. The Program of Study of a Physics Education student therefore may be modified accordingly, as deemed necessary by the Supervisory Committee.


    Course Curriculum


    A student in Physics Education should take the Physics Ph.D. core courses, but may take electives that come from other Departments, such as Education and Philosophy.


    Summary of Administrative items


    The administrative issues for this degree are the unchanged from the description above. However, you should be aware that your research project, if it involves students, would require Institutional Review Board approval. Usually anticipate no difficulties for a reasonably well-designed project, just know that it may have to happen. See


                      Institutional Review Board:




    Physics Education Research (PER) has become a mature physics specialization, applying methods of traditional physics analysis to problems in educating others about our subject. You can find more information here:


                      PER Central:

                      UColoradoŐs PER site:







    3.2. Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Chemical Physics




    Chemical physics concerns chemical processes from the perspective of atomic, molecular or condensed matter physics. The Ph.D. program in chemical physics is an interdisciplinary graduate curriculum permitting maximum flexibility to well-qualified graduate students. The Program of Study for the doctoral degree is administered by the Chemical Physics Executive Committee for the Departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy. Course requirements are tailored to meet the need and interests of students on an individual basis in consultation with their Supervisory Committees. To enter this program you must first gain admission to the Physics (or Chemistry) Ph.D. program.


    Faculty members available to supervise thesis research in this program include:

    Physics & Astronomy:

                                                          Christoph Boehme (condensed matter, spintronics)

                                                          Carleton DeTar (computational physics)

                                                          Jordan Gerton (nanostructures)

                                                          Frank Harris (chemical physics)

                                                          Brian Saam (atomic physics, hyperpolarized gases)

                                                          Orest Symko (quasiperiodic crystals)

                                                          Valy Vardeny (organic semiconductors)


                                                          Scott Anderson (reaction dynamics, nanoclusters)

                                                          Peter Armentrout (chemistry of surfaces, ions, organometallic complexes)

                                                          Michael Bartl (micro- and nanophotonics)

                                                          David Grant (NMR)

                                                          Valeria Molinero (membrane transport, computational chemistry)

                                                          Michael Morse (metallic and semiconductor systems)

                                                          Jennifer Schumaker-Parry (plasmonic structures and nanoparticles)

                                                          Thanh Truong (combustion chemistry, solvation, and zeolite catalysts)

                                                          Charles Wight (computational chemistry, rocket propellants & explosives)


    Degree Requirements


    The degree requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis by the Chemical Physics Executive Committee and the studentŐs Supervisory Committee. As a guideline, if your home department is Physics & Astronomy, you will follow our Ph.D. programŐs exam schedule. Only the courses differ from the ŇstandardÓ Ph.D. in Physics: The curriculum will be customized for each student. It presumably is some combination the standard Physics Ph.D. track and ChemistryŐs divisional tract in Physical Chemistry.


    Summary of Administrative items.


    The administrative requirements for this degree are similar to those of the Physics Ph.D, except that both the Chemical Physics Executive Committee and the Supervisory Committee must approve the Program of Study. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator for more information. Profs. DeTar and Morse have served most recently on the Executive Committee and can provide the best guidance.





    3.3. M.S. in Physics




    The MasterŐs Degree in Physics is demonstrates that a student has a solid foundation in graduate physics and has the ability to do research, although the student does not need to complete an extensive original research project as for the Ph.D. The MasterŐs is often conferred to students to acknowledge the completion (or near completion) of all but the doctoral research project, hence the name ŇmilestoneÓ MasterŐs. The degree is also an option for a student who decides to leave the Ph.D. program or who does not pass a Ph.D. requirement such as the Common Exam or Qualifier.


    There are two types of M.S. degrees: thesis and non-thesis. The milestone MasterŐs is non-thesis degree for students seeking a Ph.D. If you are not going on to get a Ph.D., you are strongly encouraged to work toward a MasterŐs with a thesis.



    Required Degree Elements


    Form Supervisory Committee

    Graduate-level non-research courses (12 credit hours)

    Research courses (e.g. PHYS 6970; 6 credit hours)

    Additional graduate-level courses (12 credit hours)

    Program of Study Approval

    Thesis Defense or Final Examination (non-thesis option)


    Note: To pass a course for credit toward a MasterŐs in Physics requires a grade of B- or better. In addition, to receive graduate credit, the course number must be 5000 or above.


    Description of Required Elements


       Supervisory Committee. The committee consists of three faculty members. Two—including the chair—must be regular faculty in the Department. One and only one member must specialize in an area that is unrelated to your own field, for example, a theorist if your specialization is experimental.


       Courses. A necessary condition for getting a MasterŐs is the successful completion of 30 credit-hours of coursework. Unlike the Ph.D., there are no specific required courses, but the final Program of Study must reflect adequate training in Physics, as determined by the Supervisory Committee.


       Research Project, Thesis or Report. Your research project will be selected and agreed upon by you and your Supervisory Committee. In the case of a thesis-based MasterŐs degree, you must write up your results according to University guidelines (according to Grad SchoolŐs Thesis Office specifications; see Section 2.1). If you seek a non-thesis (milestone) M.S. as you progress toward your Ph.D., you may have some of the credits-hours from your doctoral research count for the masterŐs degree.


       Thesis Defense/Final Examination (non-thesis option). You will take an oral exam that begins with a short public presentation followed by a closed-door examination by the Supervisory Committee on your thesis work or research project. For the milestone MasterŐs, this requirement is typically satisfied during the same time and meeting at which you take your Ph.D. Qualifying Exam.

    Course Curriculum


    The curriculum depends on the studentŐs circumstances and the decisions of the Supervisory Committee. We anticipate that a MasterŐs student will have most of the core courses completed (certainly for a milestone degree); with 6 additional-credit hours of graduate research, the course requirements are satisfied. If a student wishes to graduate with a Physics M.S. without continuing on to a Ph.D., then s/he may do so with a reasonable schedule within two years. For example:


    Physics M.S. Course Curriculum

    M.S. Curriculum

    Fall Semester

    Spring Semester

    Year 1

    PHYS 5010, Class. Mech./QM
    PHYS 7740, Math Methods I

    PHYS 5020, E&M/Stat. Mech.

    PHYS 6719, Grad Lab

    Year 2

    PHYS 6970, M.S. Thesis Research

    PHYS 6970, M.S. Thesis Research (elective)


    The Supervisory Committee must approve the electives. The implied two-year time frame is recommended, because of the Tuition Benefit limitations for a M.S. degree (please consult with the Graduate Coordinator about benefits).


       Milestone M.S. versus Ph.D. course credits. In general that whatever course credits you use to satisfy the M.S. Physics degree cannot be used for any other graduate degree, M.S., Ph.D. or otherwise, here at the U. Even so, flexibility in degree requirements makes it straightforward to obtain both a M.S. and a Ph.D. without adding courses to the Ph.D. track.



    Summary of Administrative items


    Here is a list, in chronological order, of the administrative benchmarks you must reach on your way to your degree:


    Advising sessions (start of each semester)

    Form Supervisory Committee

    Program of Study

    Apply for Graduation

    Final Examination or Thesis Defense

    Submit defended thesis to Thesis Office for format approval (if applicable)


    The maximum time allowed to complete a M.S. Physics degree is 4 calendar years from the date of matriculation.





    3.4. Physics M.S. with Instrumentation Emphasis




    This program is designed to qualify those with training in various scientific and engineering fields to understand, work with and develop modern numerical methods, electronics, measurement system characterization, computer data acquisition/control, and the physical principles of the operation of various measurement transducers and sensors. The degree candidate is required to take part in an instrumentation project, which can be in a wide variety of research and industrial test areas. In many cases the project will occur in disciplines other than physics and can be performed in an industrial setting with appropriate departmental supervision. Projects related to a studentŐs profession are encouraged; indeed, as MSI students do not typically receive financial support from the Department, many pursue this degree while working full time in industry. Note that projects involving proprietary and/or confidential research can be accommodated. While this is a non-thesis MasterŐs degree, the successful project is fully documented and results in a detailed written report of the project.

    Required Degree Elements:


    Form Supervisory Committee

    Required Core Courses:

    o   PHYS 6610 Electronics for Scientific Instrumentation1 (4 credit-hours)

    o   PHYS 6620 Data Acquisition for Scientific Instrumentation1 (4)

    o   PHYS 6750 Applied Modern Optics I & II (4)

    o   PHYS 6770 Optical Measurement Techniques & Instrumentation (4)

    o   PHYS 6730 Computational Physics (4)

    Instrumentation Project Proposal

    Program of Study Approval

    Elective Courses

    o   PHYS 5719 Fundamental Laboratory Techniques (2-3)

    o   PHYS 5739 Microscopy (3-4)

    o   PHYS 6771 Ionizing Radiation2 (2)

    o   Machine Shop3                   (non-credit, 20 [real-time] hours)

    Research credits:

    o   PHYS 6859 Instrumentation Project (6-10)

    Final Presentation and Written Report

    Optional Preparatory Courses:

    o   PHYS 5010 Theoretical Mechanics & Quantum Mechanics4 (3)

    o   PHYS 5020 Theoretical E&M and Statistical Mechanics4 (3)

    o   PHYS 6720 Introduction to Computing in Physics5 (4)

    1PHYS 6610 and 6620 are usually called Electronics I and Electronics II.

    2PHYS 6771 is recommended but offered less frequently than the other courses.

    3Machine shop is a non-credit, four-week training class offered by the Department.

    4PHYS 5010/5020 are recommended (not required) for a broad Physics background.

    5PHYS 6720 is recommended for experience with C++ and UNIX to prepare for PHYS 6730.


    Description of Required Elements


    Many elements of the MSI degree are the same as in the M.S. Physics program, such as the formation of the Supervisory Committee and Program of Study approval. There are differences, as we now describe.


       Courses. A total of 30 semester hours of credit are required to complete the program. Six to ten credit-hours will be related to the instrumentation project. Select courses above the 5000 level in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and engineering may be substituted for the instrumentation courses above with prior approval from a student's Supervisory Committee. These courses should be in fields relevant to the Instrumentation Project, although some may be preparatory in nature, if deemed necessary by the Supervisory Committee.


       Instrumentation Project Proposal. Before you begin your instrumentation projects, you must give an oral presentation to your Supervisory Committee describing your proposed project. Expect that your committee will ask you questions during and after your presentation.


       Final presentation and Written Report. A final formal oral presentation to the Supervisory committee of the project, and a detailed project write-up are required for completion of the degree. A copy of the Project write-up must be placed in the Physics & Astronomy Library; there you can find examples of successfully completed MSI projects to serve as format and style guides for your own work.


    Course Curriculum


    The curriculum depends on the studentŐs preparation, the nature of the instrumentation project. Here is a possible schedule for a student who does not need to take optional preparatory courses:


                      M.S. Instrumentation Course Curriculum


    Fall Semester

    Spring Semester

    Year 1

    PHYS 6610 Electronics I
    PHYS 6750 Modern Optics I & II

    PHYS 6620 Electronics II

    PHYS 6730 Computational Physics

    Year 2

    PHYS 5719 Lab Techniques
    PHYS 6771 Ionizing Radiation

    PHYS 6770 Optical Measurements

    PHYS 6859 Instrumentation Project


    Subsequent semesters, if necessary, would consist of PHYS 6859 Instrumentation Project research credits.


    Summary of Administrative items


    Advising sessions (start of each semester)

    Form Supervisory Committee

    Program of Study

    Instrumentation Project Proposal

    Apply for Graduation

    Final Presentation/Submit Report to Department






    3.5. Physics M.S. with Computational Physics Emphasis




    The Department of Physics & Astronomy offers a Computational Physics option under its regular M.S. program in cooperation with the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science. This program is intended to equip students in science and engineering disciplines with modern computational skills for use in solving problems in the physical sciences. Degree requirements include classes in numerical analysis using networked Unix workstations in an X-window environment, physics core and specialty courses, and a computational physics project. The project may be developed in cooperation with a student's employer or in conjunction with a University research group. A detailed project report is required. Electives include scientific visualization, architectures and algorithms, minicomputer interfacing with experimental apparatus, and case studies in computational engineering and science.


    Faculty members of Physics & Astronomy available to supervise thesis research in this program include:

                      Adam Bolton (astronomy; data mining, statistical analysis)

                      Ben Bromley (astrophysics; planet formation and galactic dynamics simulations)

                      Carleton DeTar (high-energy theory; lattice quantum chromodynamics [QCD])


    This program is open to any student admitted to graduate studies in Physics & Astronomy.


    Required Degree Elements


    Form Supervisory Committee

    Core Courses

    o   PHYS 5010 Theoretical Mechanics & Quantum Mechanics (3 credit-hours)

    o   PHYS 5020 Theoretical E&M and Statistical Mechanics (3)

    o   PHYS 6720 Introduction to Computing in Physics (4)

    o   PHYS 6730 Computational Physics (4)

    Specialization Course (minimum 3 credit-hours, 5000+ level)

    Computer Science Electives (minimum 6 credit-hours)

    o   PHYS 6620 Data Acquisition for Scientific Instrumentation (4)

    o   MATH 5660 Parallel Numerical Methods (3)

    o   MATH 5740 Mathematical Modeling (3)

    o   MATH 6790 Case Studies, Computational Engineering & Sciences (3)

    o   MATH 6795 Seminar, Computational Engineering & Sciences (3)

    o   CS 5010 Software Practice I (3)

    o   CS 5020 Software Practice II (3)

    o   CS 5630 Scientific Visualization (3)

    o   CS 6210 Advanced Scientific Computing I (3)

    Program of Study Approval/Review of Proposed Project                                                         

    Research credits (PHYS 6970 MasterŐs Research, 6-10 credit-hours)

    Final Presentation and Written Report


    Note: MATH 6795 is cross-listed with CS 6938

    Description of Required Elements


    Many elements of the MSI degree are the same as in the M.S. Physics program, such as the formation of the Supervisory Committee and Program of Study approval. There are differences, as we now describe.


       Courses. A total of 30 semester hours of credit are required to complete the program. Six to ten credit-hours will be related to the computational project. Well-prepared students may exchange PHYS 5010/5020 with electives or other courses as approved by their Supervisory Committee.


       Computational Physics Project. At the present time there is no formal project proposal that needs to be approved. However, we recommend that your Supervisory Committee review your proposed work before you begin your project.


       Final presentation and Written Report. A detailed project write-up is required for completion of the degree, and a final formal oral presentation to the Supervisory committee of the project may be required as well, at the CommitteeŐs discretion.


    Course Curriculum


    The curriculum depends on the studentŐs preparation, the nature of the instrumentation project. Here is a possible schedule for a student who does not need to take optional preparatory courses:


                      Computational Physics M.S. Course Curriculum

    M.S. Comp. Phys.

    Fall Semester

    Spring Semester

    Year 1

    PHYS 6720 Intro to Computing
    PHYS 5010

    PHYS 6730 Computational Physics

    PHYS 5020

    Year 2

    (specialization course)

    PHYS 6790 Research



    Subsequent semesters, if necessary, would consist of PHYS 6970 Computational Physics Project Research credits (PHYS 6790).


    Summary of Administrative items

    Advising sessions (start of each semester)

    Form Supervisory Committee

    Program of Study

    Apply for Graduation

    Final Presentation/Submit Project Report









    4.1. Teaching Assistantships, Teaching Fellowships, & Research Assistantships


    The Physics & Astronomy Department has a number of assistantships and fellowships available to graduate students. Awards will be made generally to graduate students in good standing who are making substantial progress toward their degrees. Eligibility for these awards is usually the same as eligibility for Tuition Benefits (Section 2.2). For example, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and that you register for 9-12 credit-hours of graduate-level courses (5000 or higher). Furthermore, if you are an international student seeking a teaching assistantship (ITA), then you will need to demonstrate spoken-English proficiency (e.g., TOEFL), as defined by the Grad School; see


    ITA language proficiency:


    The Department tries to support students financially as best it can through assistantships and fellowships. Typically Ph.D. students start off as teaching assistants (TAŐs), and after they start in on their research projects, they become research assistants (RAŐs), with funding arranged by their research advisor. In cases where advisors do not have grant support, students may continue to serve as TAŐs if TA slots are available. Please bear in mind that there are also external sources of funding for graduate students, which sometimes come with extra resources for travel, as well as prestige


    In this section you will find a description of the DepartmentŐs assistantships and fellowships; Section 5 contains information on external funding sources. (Note: Here we often refer to students who need to demonstrate English proficiency. Recent Grad School admission requirements make these cases increasingly rare.)


    Teaching Assistantships


    These assistantships are awarded to students in good standing (i.e., eligible for Tuition Benefits) usually for a maximum of two years for Ph.D. candidates, and one year for MasterŐs degree candidates. To maintain support after this time limit, each semester the teaching assistant (TA) must have the chair of his or her Supervisory Committee write a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies requesting support, enumerating progress toward the degree during the previous semester.


    The Department and University currently offer several types of teaching assistantships, varying by degree of experience of the TA and nature of the teaching assignment:


    o   Level I TA or Graduate Assistant (GA). This position offers a baseline in salary and level of responsibility; A TA at this level may cover grading, but not lab or discussion sections. The GA designation is typically used for students who have not yet demonstrated English proficiency.


    o   Level-II TA. Students who perform well in teaching, demonstrate English proficiency (in cases of International TAŐs), and have good academic standing in their graduate programs are encouraged to apply for a (Level-II) TA position. Responsibilities of a Level-II TA may include overseeing lab or discussion sections or serving as a Class Marshall (see below). Salary for this position will exceed that of the Level-l TA by approximately 18%. To receive a Level-II TA position you must apply, usually as part of your Graduate Admission application. Awards may be made throughout the academic year, although they are subject to revocation upon poor teaching or academic performance.


    o   University TA (UTA). Alternatively a more experienced TA may apply for a competitive University Teaching Assistantship through the Graduate School. For more information, see


    UTA application: - uta


    Teaching Fellowships


    Graduate students may apply for a selective Teaching Fellowship (TF), if they have passed the Common Examination, established a supervisory committee, demonstrated good teaching skills, and shown progress toward the degree. Applications are made with the help of the research advisor. The Teaching Fellowships may be renewed for a second year. Students receiving the stipend will be expected to perform teaching duties as with the teaching assistantship.


    Research Assistantships


    Faculty members often provide funding to students, usually (but not always) their advisees, to work on a research project. The arrangements for awarding and renewing a research assistantship (RA) are made directly with the professor who has the funding. Assistantships are typically given only to those students who have passed the Common Examination and have established a supervisory committee. The length of the research assistantship is an agreement between the student and the faculty member with the funding. There are award research fellowships available, too, such as the UniversityŐs GRF program:


    UniversityŐs Award Fellowships:


    Summer Assistantships


    A few summer teaching assistantships (Level II TA) are available and will be given to those students who best demonstrate good teaching skills.



    Evaluation Of Performance of GAŐs, TAŐs, and TFŐs


    The performance and progress of teaching fellows and teaching assistants will be reviewed annually. In addition to satisfactory performance of teaching duties, TFŐs and TAŐs should be making progress in their academic program, including (if applicable) English proficiency. If a student is not successful in these respects, the teaching assistantship may be terminated. If you find your assistantship to be at risk, contact your graduate advisor, who may help arrange for a continuation or reinstatement of an assistantship, conditional on improved academic or teaching performance. Be careful, though. If you fall out of Tuition Benefit Eligibility (e.g., GPA below 3.0), the Department may not be able to help, as there may be conflicts with Grad School regulations about TA support.


    Occasionally the Physics & Astronomy Department may have teaching needs that will lead to the temporary waiving of the above rules. Usually this will only occur if the student has special teaching skills that are particularly needed. Also, a student's supervisory committee may request that the Department waive these rules if some clearly special circumstances exist. Note that these waivers are rare, and never indicate a formal change in the rules.



    4.2. Teaching Assistant Responsibilities


    This section is intended to outline departmental procedures regarding Teaching and Graduate Assistants. It covers assignment procedures, job disciplines.


    Teaching Assignments & Loads


    A standard TA or GA load is 20 hours per week. TA's and GA's are typically awarded for two semesters and the load is maintained for two semesters. Enrollment contingencies may make it necessary to trade overloads in one semester for light loads in another. In other words, the standard TA/GA load is actually no more than 20 hours per week averaged over two semesters.


    Some jobs are common enough to have pre-assigned hourly workloads, whereas some must be evaluated as they arise. The following is a table of typical pre-assigned workload values:


    Job (Fall/Spring)


    2 Discussion Sections 2010 or 2110 Series


    2 Discussion Sections 2210 Series          


    1 Lab Section 2019, 2029 Series               

    7 (10 first semester teaching lab)


    The above unit values are for Fall and Spring semesters. In the Summer semester, the typical values are:


    Job (Summer)


    1 Discussion Section 2010 or 2110 Series



    (dependent on course level and enrollment)



    The workload value for the other jobs is determined case by case. For example, a grader is assigned to any instructor of a class other than a discussion section whose enrollment warrants assistance, but the actual assignment may vary depending on whether the class is introductory (e.g., PHYS 1010) or advanced (such as PHYS 6720). Where possible, the workload is estimated with help from experienced TA's who have previously read for a particular course. Note that the assignment is made on the basis of how long it should take, not how long it actually does take.


    A few exceptional TAŐs may be selected as course marshal for large courses (e.g., PHYS 2010). The marshal typically has reduced grading or discussion section workload, but has additional responsibility in terms of organizing the discussion section schedules of other TAŐs for the course, arranging help sessions, and coordinating grading of homework and exams.

    Example Job Descriptions


    For the more common TA and grading assignments, we can list specific duties and necessary job qualifications.


    Instructors of Discussion Sections (2010, 2020, 2110, 2120, 2210, 2220)


    The Job: The Instructor meets with the discussion section twice weekly to provide help with assigned problems and with questions that arise concerning the course. He or she grades exams and helps proctor them. Attendance at lecture is required. Personal involvement with students (dating, tutoring for pay, etc.) in one's discussion section is forbidden. Each instructor should schedule approximately three hours per week for consultation with students.


    Qualifications: The Instructor must be able to speak English well, must have passed the SPEAK test, must be conscientious about preparing for class, must be reliable in attendance, and must be willing to help students on an individual basis where necessary. It is highly recommended that the TA attend the lecture (at least the first time through the course).


    Criteria for Assignment and Retention: Student ratings on university or departmental evaluations and recommendation of the instructor in charge of the course form the basis for assignments and retention.


    Lab Instructors (2015, 2025, 2215, 2225)


    The Job: The class meets once a week, for a three-hour period of investigation in the laboratory. The instructor's responsibilities in the laboratory are (a) to motivate the students towards independent thinking in applying physical principles to experimental problems; (b) to teach experimental techniques; (c) to instruct the students in the care and use of equipment; and (d) to solve simple malfunction problems with the equipment. The instructor is required to attend scheduled meetings of laboratory instructors and must become familiar with the equipment and the experimental procedures prior to the laboratory class. The instructor is to remain in the laboratory during the time the students are performing the experiments. In case an instructor is unable to attend class, he or she is expected to find an approved substitute. The instructor grades the studentsŐ homework and lab reports and must keep a record of these grades.


    Qualifications: The instructor must be able to communicate effectively, must be conscientious in helping the students in both an individual and a group basis, and must have some prior knowledge of experimental equipment, experimental techniques and safety lab.

    Criteria for Assignment and Retention: Student ratings on University and departmental evaluations and an appraisal by the laboratory supervisor concerning attitude, accomplishments, and ability form the basis for assignments and retention.




    The Job: Graders are assigned to a lecturer (professor in charge of a course) to grade homework, quizzes, and/or exam. At the request of the lecturer, a grader answers student's questions about problems.


    Qualifications: Language fluency is less important in this job. The grader should have completed the next higher level course sequence (than the course being graded) with at least a B+ grade.


    Criteria for Assignment and Retention: The recommendation of the lecturer provides the basis for assignments and retention.


    The above job descriptions apply to Fall and Spring semesters. In Summer Semester, some of the discussion sections meet on a different schedule; thus the teaching loads are different. Information about loads is available at the time TA applications for Summer Semester are received.


    Performance assessments


    For the above assignments and others not listed, your performance will be evaluated. Personal observation by the instructor or other members of the Department, as well as comments from individual students, will be factors in assessing how well you are doing. If students fill out course evaluations for you, you may find them in the Physics & Astronomy Main Office (they are not publicly available).


    If you or someone else determines that your TA or grading performance needs to improve, please make this an opportunity to go get help. Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence is a great place to start.



    (We all benefit from tuning up our teaching effectiveness, so please check out the site, no matter what!)


    If students cannot or refuse to work on improving teaching skills, the Department may be unable to provide GA or TA support. Also, if a student is negligent in any way, for example failing to show up for an assignment/discussion section, then at very least a verbal or oral reprimand will be issued. More severe cases may require more severe action, including termination or non-renewal of assistantship. Such cases will be considered by the Department Policy Board, which will then take appropriate action.


    Note that if a TA/RA is dismissed early in the semester, before earning $6k for the assignment, they may lose tuition benefits as well as a salary. For the UniviersityŐs blanket policy on hiring/firing is in


    University Policy 6-309:



    4.3. TA Assignment Procedures & Considerations


    Teaching assignments in the Physics & Astronomy Department typically fall into four main categories:


    1. Discussion sections for large courses (2010, 2010, 2110, 2120, 2210 and 2220)

    2. Upper level lab assistants (3410, 3610 and 3719)

    3. Elementary lab assistants (1890, 2015, 2025, 2215 and 2222)

    4. Grading for undergraduate courses


    These assignments are listed in the order of communication skills required to fill the assignment. Discussion TAŐs need the highest communication skill set since they have four hours of student contact each week. They need to be able to speak clearly, understand questions students ask, and explain physics problems with clarity and accuracy. TAŐs for upper level lab courses require the same communication skills and need a deeper understanding of the course material. Elementary lab TAŐs need a high level of communication skills, but typically meet students on a one-on-one basis. The ten-minute introduction requires good communication skills. Grading requires the least communication skills unless the instructor requires the TA to conduct a discussion section for the course.


    There are many factors that go into making a TA assignment. Some of the most important issues are listed in approximately the order of importance:


    o  A list of possible TAŐs is shown to the faculty members who will teach the large lecture courses, and the instructors are asked to give approval of the TAŐs who are planned for the course. Faculty input is taken very seriously, and every attempt is made to make certain that faculty are happy with the list of TAŐs. This is especially true when the marshal is being selected. (Most of the time the faculty member will request a specific marshal).

    o  The prospective discussion TA list is reviewed with staff members who have worked with the individual TAŐs in prior semesters. This input is weighed and considered. Student evaluations of TAŐs are reviewed to make certain all is in order.

    o  Many faculty have requests for specific graders, lab assistants, discussion leaders and marshals. These requests are factored in and granted when possible.

    o  New TAŐs are surveyed during the orientation and asked to list the assignments they would prefer. These requests are granted when possible.

    o  Discussion assignments for the large lecture courses are made first, lab assistant assignments second, and finally grading assignments.

    o  There are always one or two special need assignments that require special considerations (3730 TA, one time course offering TA, etc.)

    o  Always at the last minute a TA will have an assignment and then finds and RA. This requires a reshuffling of assignments - sometimes requiring extensive reassignments.

    o  TA performance will be considered in making TA assignments. Typically outstanding performance will most likely result in that TA becoming marshal in the near future. Bad performance should lead to dismissal but to this point in time has resulted in a reassignment of duties for future semesters

    o  We will send out a notice to Tas for spring semester and fall semester to have respond and request the assignment they desire for that semester. These requests obviously cannot be guaranteed, however whenever possible they will be honored.



    The goal we strives for with TA assignments are, in order of importance:


    o  The assignments are fair. Each TA should be given an assignment. that requires approximately 20/week. This is spelled out on the final TA Assignment list, and the faculty know exactly how many hours each TA has been assigned.

    o  The assignments will provide the best instruction for the students. The students deserve the best TAŐs we can provide in each position.

    o  Faculty are happy with the TAŐs who have been assigned to them.

    o  TA ability a skill set is matched to the TA assignment

    o  TAŐs feel they have been treated fairly.


    In order to achieve these goals there has always been fine tuning in the assignments after the first list is distributed. A sheet listing the assignments is sent to all TAs with a note telling them to contact the person making the assignments if there is a problem. Faculty or TA In marshals often give input that additional help is needed or that a certain TA needs to be shifted to another assignment, etc.


    4.4. Summary items for TAŐs


    We close this section with a final summarizing list relevant to Teaching assistantships:


    o  Level I TAŐs are not given responsibility in the labs or discussions. These students have not passed the Versant Spoken Language Test requirements imposed by the University of Utah.

    o  Level II TAŐs are given any assignment since they have passed the Versant Spoken Language Test. They are paid at a higher rate. These are the only students considered for a summer TA since the summer assignments are so scarce and limited.

    o  A full TA for 20 hours/week is normally one of the following

    ¤  2 discussion sections

    ¤ 3 labs (2 the first time teaching labs)

    ¤  Grading 1 or 2 courses depending on enrollment & how the instructor uses the grader.

    ¤  Miscellaneous (rare) special assignments.

    o  The minimum requirement for graduate students to get a TA after being one for two or more years is a letter from the chair of his/her Supervisory Committee to the DoGS or Department Chair. The letter must certify that the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree, explain why there is no funding for RA, support and provide the expected date of graduation.






    Here we cover some academic and non-academic issues that may be of broad concern as your graduate career progresses, such as how to look out for your overall well-being, among many other things.


    5.1. International Student Information


    If you are an international student, you may have a whole level of bureaucracy (ICE) to do deal with that has little to do with your degree, and everything to do with your ability to attain it. The International Center provides resources here at the University to help with a variety of issues, especially with regard to your visa. The CenterŐs website is

                      International Center:


    Visa Issues. Unfortunately, visa troubles sometimes occur and when they do they are painful. So please be careful with arranging for a Leave of Absence, or Continuous Minimum Registration. Also, if for any reason you need to go abroad in the middle of a semester while you are on a TA or RA, make arrangements in case you are prevented from re-entering the country. You may lose Tuition Benefits and get charged for tuition, among other things. Just plan ahead. Here is a place to start:


    ICŐs F-1 Visa Status:


    English proficiency. Finally, international students who are not native English speakers must be cleared by the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) program in order to be given a TA.


    International TA Program:


    If English fluency is a problem for students, then they will be encouraged to get some assistance, through ESL classes, for example. The International Center can help.





    5.2. Disability Services: Making the Program Work for You


    The University provides accommodations to enhance your educational development if you are a student with disabilities. The range of services is broad, and the Center for Disability Services has compiled an excellent list of resources, available through this link:


    Center for Disability Services:



    5.3. Maintaining Your Well-Being: Health and Counseling Resources


    Graduate school is notoriously stressful. Here are some ideas and resources available to you so that your grad school experience is broadly rewarding.


    Be part of the Community. Life as a grad student is more than coursework and research, but making it fulfilling may seem difficult, especially if you do not have family here. Fortunately there are many opportunities to meet people and to enjoy varied activities in Salt Lake City. To start, try the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Advisory Committee. They may provide excellent ideas. (You might become an active member!):


    Graduate Student Advisory Committee:


    Health issues. For most of us, access to health care requires health insurance. Fortunately you can get subsidized health insurance through a program administered by the Graduate School. Another important resource is the Student Health Center, where you can receive a variety of services including vaccines, diagnostic testing/screening, and counseling.


    Stress management and counseling. If you need help with stress, anxiety, depression or mood swings, or if you and your partner could benefit from talking together with a counselor, then call or visit the Counseling Center. The services are comprehensive, excellent and extremely inexpensive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all University students and employees.


    Substance Abuse. There are many resources available to help with addiction and alcoholism. The Student Wellness Center provides some on-line links, and both the Student Health Center and Counseling Center can help more directly.


    Use all available resources. On-campus providers can guide you to more comprehensive treatment and recovery services off-campus.


    Links to campus health and wellness resources:



    Counseling Center:

    Subsidized Student Insurance:

    Student Health Center:

    Student Wellness Center:


    5.4. Getting Along: Professional conduct and conflict resolution

    The atmosphere in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is generally professional, yet very friendly and supportive. Students in our graduate program tend to have a positive ŇweŐre in this togetherÓ attitude toward meeting the challenges of coursework, research, and being a TA. Like the faculty students are required to maintain high ethical standards and to treat others with respect. In this section we discuss these issues, as well as what happens when conflict arises, perhaps because of a failure to show respect.


    Student Rights and Responsibilities. The University has outlined its policy regarding your conduct as a graduate student:     

    Student code:


    The bottom line is that we are in a place of learning and we shall help, not impede, our own or othersŐ pursuit of knowledge (do not plagiarize, cheat or interfere with otherŐs studies). If you do your part we will try our best to support your effort. If you do not, you may be required to leave our University.


    Conflict resolution. We hope that the Department of Physics and Astronomy is free of conflict. However, in case you are in a situation where a dispute arises, we want to provide you with options.


    o   Physical threat. First and foremost, be safe. If there is any physical threat to you, try to move yourself out of the situation and contact 911 or Campus Police (1-5801).

    o   Sexual Harassment or discrimination. In cases of sexual harassment or discrimination of any sort, we ask that you contact the OEO (Office of Equal Opportunity; 801-581-8365), even If you are in doubt. We can help you contact OEO if that would help.

    o   Conflict between students or a student and a faculty member. If a conflict arises, perhaps because of unprofessional behavior it may help to talk with the person with whom you are in conflict. Otherwise talk with your advisor, the DoGS, or the Department Chair. If possible we will try to resolve the situation, typically be mediation. If we cannot help, the Dean of Students Office is the best resource.

    o   Academic disputes and appeals. For academic disputes such as contested grades, cheating accusations or publication authorship, for example, the DoGS or Chair can help. Further appeals go to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs in the College of Science.

    Conflict resolution options


    Safety threat

    911 / Police / Campus Security


    Sexual Harassment

    OEO/Office of Equal Opportunity


    Informal dispute:

    Discussion between parties


    Other conflicts

    Meet with Chair or DoGS to mediate



    OEO/Office of Equal Opportunity


    -Personal conduct issues

    Dean of Students Office


    -Academic dispute

    College of Sci., Assoc. Dean, Student Affairs


    5.5. Beyond Classes: Other Educational Opportunities


    You will start off taking courses, but it is important to explore other education possibilities as well. One practical reason is that the tuition benefits program is generous, but it does limit your time here., it is best to find a research project quickly. You will want to get as much information as you can about your options. Take part in the Graduate Student Symposium, the Condensed Matter Seminars, the BOWTIE seminar (astronomy/astrophysics), and especially the Department Colloquium to learn about your research possibilities. (Note: You may be required to attend the Colloquium.) Talk with other graduate students. Do not limit yourself to the Department; there are research groups in Scientific Computing Institute and the Department of Radiology, for example, in which our students have worked.


    Another possibility is to attend conferences. Often you will participate in professional meetings with your advisor, but do not wait for an invitation. Often meeting organizers can provide some travel money for graduate students. If you are well into your research, definitely present a poster or (better) give a talk. Just for example, some good local meetings include:


                      APS Four-Corners Section Meeting:

                      SNOWPAC (astrophysics & cosmology):



    5.6. On-liine Resources for Graduate Study and Beyond

    – or –

    How to Get Funding, Write a Thesis, and More


    This section lists some websites that may contain useful information for you. However, first you must get on-line. As a graduate student, you will be given an account on our DepartmentŐs computer system. We have terminals available for use in all of our campus buildings (INSCC, JFB, SP). To apply for an account, ask at the Physics & Astronomy front desk.


    The sites provided here are the Ňtip of the icebergÓ of on-line resources for grad students. We will try to give just some basics. Try the Department website for more, especially those sites related to fellowships. You should apply, even if your advisor has funding for your research, since many fellowships carry prestige.


    Graduate School and University sites that you should know about


    Grad School Home:

    Graduate Catalog (requirements):

    International TA program:

    International Center:

    Marriott Library:

    Student Resources:

    Thesis guidelines:

    Tuition Benefits Program/Insurance:


    Your Rights and Responsibilities


    Student Code:


    Funding opportunities for grad school (There are more! Ask your advisorÉ)


    University of Utah Fellowships:

    NASA GSRP Fellowships:

    NSF Astronomy:

    NSF Physics:

    PhDs.orgŐs fellowship list:


    How to write a thesis


    Official guidelines:

    GSACŐs helpful tips:

    Dissertation Bootcamp:


    Dissertation Bootcamp was started in 2010 and the demand is extraordinarily high. Check it out, and sign up, if it seems helpful. Also, let the DoGS know what you think!


    Teaching resources


    TA Resource Center:

    Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence:

    (The CTLE really is excellent.)


    Computing resources


    Utah Center for High Performance Computing:


    Professional Organizations


    American Astronomical Society:

    American Institute of Physics:

    Americam Physical Society:



    Find a job in Physics and Astronomy


    AASŐs Job Register for astro-ph:

    The APSŐs physics careers page:

    High Performance Computing job bank:

    PhDs.orgŐs jobs resources:


    Almost every astronomy or astrophysics faculty member got a position here in Utah through the AAS Job Register. Almost every physics faculty member found his/her position here through APSŐs Physics Today.



    5.7. Off-line resources: Things to do for fun.


    Salt Lake City, Utah, and the University of Utah in particular offer many opportunities for enjoying breaks from your studies. Word-of-mouth is a good way to find fun things to do. The University always has interesting events as well:


    U of U events calendar:


    Meanwhile, for your amusement only, here is a to-do list while you are in Salt Lake City. (The DepartmentŐs virtual legal squad has not approved of all of these items. They do not constitute an endorsement of any kind. This list is NOT an implicit recommendation that you should ever be away from your lab bench or computer workstation.)


         Look at stars from the South Physics Observatory

         Go to a play at the Pioneer Theatre

    Volunteer as a science fair judge (

         Swim in the Great Salt Lake. Or at least smell it.

         See a concert at Kingsbury Hall

         BORSCH (Bike, Overnight [camp], Run, Ski, Climb, Hike); we are less than a half-dayŐs drive from Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol ReefÉ

         Check out the Sundance Film Festival

         Take a Gallery Stroll downtown (third Friday of each month, 6pm)

         Do something cool and have the DoGS add it to this list!





    6.1. Graduate Courses In Physics And Astronomy



    5010 Theoretical Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics

    5015 Observational Methods and Data Analysis

    5020 Theoretical Electricity & Magnetism and Statistical Physics

    5070 Physics Teaching Methods

    5110 Introduction to Nuclear & Particle Physics

    5150 Energy & sustainability-A Global Perspective

    5410 Physics Core of Modern Technology and Life Science

    5450 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

    5460 Quantum Mechanics & Stat. Mech.

    5510 Solid-State Physics I

    5520 Solid-State Physics II

    5530 Introduction to Disordered Solids

    5719 Fundamental Lab Techniques

    5739 Scanning Electron Microscopy

    5810 Nanoscience: Where Biology, Chemistry and Physics Intersect

    6071 Science Teaching Methods

    6072 Science Teaching Methods

    6073 Science Teaching Methods

    6074 Science Teaching Methods

    6110 Theoretical Mechanics

    6210 Optics in Biology

    6510 Physics of Semiconductors I

    6520 Physics of Semiconductors II

    6610 Electronics for Scientific Instrumentation

    6620 Data Acquisition for Sci. Instrumentation

    6710 Technical Comm. & Scientific Judgment

    6719 Graduate Laboratory

    6720 Introduction to Computing in Physics

    6730 Computational Physics 2

    6740 Computational Physics II

    6750 Applied Modern Optics I & II

    6751 Modern Optics I

    6760 Physical Measurement & Sensor Systems

    6770 Optical Measurement & Instrumentation

    6771 Ionizing Radiation

    6775 Optical Measurement Techniques and Instrumentation Laboratory

    6800 Physics Colloquium

    6810 Graduate Seminar: Master's

    6849 Physics Masters Project

    6859 Instrumentation Project

    6910 Advanced Applied Electricity & Magnetism

    6920 Advanced Applied Modern Physics

    6950 Special Reading Topics: Master's

    6970 Thesis Research: Master's

    6980 Faculty Consultation

    7110 Electrodynamics I

    7120 Electrodynamics II

    7220 Quantum Theory I

    7230 Quantum Theory II

    7310 Statistical Mechanics

    7510 Advanced Solid-State Physics I

    7520 Advanced Solid-State Physics II

    7530 Principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

    7550 Physical Applications of Group Theory

    7640 Quantum Field Theory I

    7650 Quantum Field Theory II

    7720 General Relaltivity

    7730 Computational and Statistical Methods

    7740 Mathematical Methods of Physics I

    7750 Mathematical Methods of Physics II

    7800 Physics Colloquium

    7810 Graduate Seminar for Ph.D. Students

    7910 Special Reading Topics: Ph.D.

    7970 Thesis Research: Ph.D.

    7980 Faculty Consultation

    7990 Continuing Registration: Ph.D.



    5015 Observational Methods and Data Analysis

    5570 Galactic Astronomy & Stellar Populations

    5580 Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology

    5590 Stellar Astrophysics and Compact Objects              

    6410 Intro to Research in Astron. & Astrophysi.

    7730 Computational and Statistical Methods

    6.2. Faculty Research


    Ailion, David - Atomic Physics, NMR.

    Bergman, Douglas - Cosmic rays.

    Boehme, Christoph (Assoc. Chair) – Condensed matter, spectroscopy and spintronics

    Bolton, Adam – Astronomy, observational cosmology and galaxy evolution

    Bromley, Ben – Computational astrophysics, planet formation, galactic dynamics

    Dawson, Kyle – Astronomy, observational cosmology, instrumentation

    DeTar, Carleton – High-energy theory, computational physics, lattice QCD

    Deemyad, Shanti – Condensed matter (experiment), high pressure phenomena

    Efros, Alexei – Condensed matter (theory), disordered systems, left-handed materials

    Gerton, Jordan – Nanoscience, Biophysics, near-field optical microscopy

    Gondolo, Paolo – Theoretical astrophysics, dark matter, dark stars, cosmology

    Harris, Frank – Chemical physics, atomic physics

    Ivans, Inese – Astronomy, Galactic archaeology and stellar populations

    Jui, Charlie – Cosmic rays

    Kieda, David (Chair) – High-energy astrophysics, g‑ray astronomy, AGN variability

    LeBohec, Stephan - High-energy astrophysics, g-ray astronomy, optical intensity interferometry

    Mishchenko, Eugene – Condensed matter (theory), 2-d spin polarized transport, graphene

    Raikh, Mikhail – Condensed matter (theory), disordered systems, quantum Hall effect

    Rogachev, Andrey – Condensed matter (expŐt), electron transport, superconductivity

    Saam, Brian – Atomic physics, biophysics, MRI, hyperpolarized Xe

    Saffarian, Saveez – Biophysics, enveloped virus budding

    Sandick, Pearl – High-energy theory, LHC phenomenology, dark matter

    Seth, Anil – Astronomy, star clusters, galactic nuclei and black holes

    Sokolsky, Pierre (Dean, Science) – Cosmic rays

    Springer, Wayne – Astroparticle physics, cosmic ray, (W. E. Observatory Director)

    Starykh, Oleg – Condensed matter (theory), strongly correlated systems, frustrated magnetism

    Symko, Orest – Condensed matter (experiment), superconductivity, thermoacoustics

    Thomson, Gordon (Keuffel Chair) – Cosmic rays

    Vardeny, Valy – Experimental physics, organic semiconductors, random lasers

    Vershinin, Michael – Biophysics, nanoscience, optical trapping, emergent complexity

    Williams, Clayton – Applied physics, atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopy,

    Wu, Yong-Shi – High-energy theory, condensed matter physics, string theory

    Zheng, Zheng – Theoretical astrophysics, cosmology, galaxy evolution and clustering






    Appendix A. Graduate Advising Checklist (Ph.D. Physics)


    Purpose: To provide a guide for an advising session between a grad student and the assigned Graduate Advisor or the studentŐs Supervisory Committee Chair (usually the thesis advisor). Students in Chemical Physics, Medical Physics, Astronomy, Biophysics or MasterŐs programs should meet with an advisor related to their program. Students who have begun thesis research should meet with their Supervisory Committee Chair. This checklist is informal; Jackie has the official version, which you and your advisor must complete for you to receive Tuition Benefits.


    1. Review Common Exam status. Has student passed? If not, what preparatory courses are necessary? (Recommendation: use Alternate Curriculum in the Graduate Handbook, Section 3.)


    2. Review courses already completed. Have core courses been taken? Has student received a B or better (required for graduate credit) for all courses?


    c PHYS 7110, Class. Mech./E&M I

    c PHYS 7120, E&M II

    c PHYS 7220, Quantum Theory I

    c PHYS 7230, Quantum Theory II

    c PHYS 7310, Stat. Mech

    c PHYS 6719, Grad Lab

    c. PHYS 7740, Math Methods I

    c PHYS 7800/7810 Colloquium/Seminar*

    *Colloquium attendance is required for first 6 semesters and encouraged thereafter. If schedule permits, take PHYS 7800 for 2 credit-hours, otherwise take 7810 for 1 credit-hour. Even if neither 7800 or 7810 are taken, attendance will be monitored.


    3. Determine courses for this semester. Consider long-term goals as well as degree requirements. Note that for tuition benefits eligibility, the total number of credit-hours is 9-12 (TAŐs) or 9-11 (RAŐs). If a student is on the astronomy track, please refer her/him to an astronomy faculty for advice.


    4. Discuss long-term plans for coursework and research. If a student has not chosen a research area, identify areas of interest and (e.g.) plan to meet with faculty working in those areas.


    5. Ensure student is on track with the degree requirements. This list is for Ph.D., up to thesis defense:

    c Common Exam

    c Program of Study (w/your Committee)

    c Core Courses

    c Qualifying Exam (by 3rd year)

    c Elective outside of specialization

    c Milestone MasterŐs (recommended)*

    c Form Supervisory Committee (by 2nd yr)

    c Apply for Graduation**


    *Milestone M.S. can be conferred after Qualifier is passed.

    **Application for Graduation is a University formality submitted the academic year of graduation; please see Jackie Hadley.


    6. Review Tuition Benefit Program eligibility (if applicable).

    c Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above

    c Within allowed number of supported semesters*

    c Registered for 9-12 credit-hours (TA) or 9-11 credit-hours (RA)

    c TA/RA assignment is appropriate

    *4 semesters for M.S.; 8 for Ph.D. with prior M.S.; 10 for Ph.D. (no M.S.); add 2 semesters if student is/was TA for 2 years.

    7. Sign Tuition Benefits Form IF eligibility requirements are met and IF there is an agreement on course selection. Otherwise, please see the Chair of the Graduate Advising Committee.

    Appendix B. Graduate Lab Course Criteria


    The Department of Physics and Astronomy has a Graduate Laboratory Requirement for several of its degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. in Physics). This requirement ensures that students have experience with experimental or observational data. One course, PHYS 6719, satisfies this requirement. However, under some circumstances, a student and her/his supervisory committee may find it beneficial to take a different course (3-4 credit-hours), perhaps more directly relevant to the studentŐs thesis research. Such a substitution for PHYS 6719 is justified if the substitute course contains the following curriculum items:


                      a. Counting and statistics; statistical distributions.

                      b. Error analysis and propagation.

                      c. Noise, noise sources, and signal averaging.

                      d. Fitting data to models, interpreting significance of results.                 

                      e. Execution of at least two experimental or observational projects

                                        incorporating the above concepts, and some sort of write-up.
                      f. Oral presentation (e.g. APS meeting-style) of work done.


    A list of equivalent courses includes PHYS 6770/6775 (both lecture and lab components), ASTR 5015, ASTR 6410, ASTR/PHYS 7730, and the MRI Lab taught by Prof. E.K. Jeong.


    NOTE: Your Thesis Supervisory Committee ultimately must approve your program of study. It is safest, therefore, to confirm with your Committee that your choice of Grad Lab substitute course is appropriate for your area of specialization.




    Appendix C. Proposed Degree Specialization/Emphasis Requirements



    This part of the handbook is reserved for new programs in the pre-approval stage, so that you can see what may be available to you down the road. [Coming soon: Biophysics Emphasis?]