May 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Applied and Computational Physics, Doctor of Philosophy

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Department of Physics
190 Mathematics and Science Center  (map)
(248) 370-3416 • Fax (248) 370-3408

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Graduate Coordinator:
David Garfinkle
186J MSC
(248) 370-3411

Program description

The College of Arts and Sciences offers a physical sciences doctoral program in Applied and Computational Physics, at the Department of Physics. With a concentration in materials experimental research and computer modeling, this program will prepare graduates for industry and academic careers in areas related to various experimental and theoretical aspects of one of the largest fields in physics: Materials science. More generally, the curriculum prepares the students to engage in research in condensed matter physics, with materials research currently being the most technologically important area. This program emphasizes both practical, engineering applications (applied physics track) and theoretical and fundamental physical concepts (computational physics track). Ph.D. candidates may elect to do their dissertation with one of a number of Oakland University faculty currently involved in applied and computational physics research. In addition to available Oakland University graduate assistantships, many of the faculty in the Department may provide individual support for qualified students. Interested students should consult the program coordinator for details.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Oakland University Graduate School by the semester deadlines listed below. Incomplete applications will not be sent to departments for admission review. Those students may want to request special graduate status.

  • February 15 (early) April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) and November 15 (regular) for winter semester
  • March 1 (regular) for summer semester
  • International Students  

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Students will be considered for admission if they hold a baccalaureate degree in physics, computer science, or one of the mathematical sciences.
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendation forms, listed above, a third recommendation form is required by the program.
    Requirements for recommendations
    All three forms must be submitted directly by individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for graduate-level scientific research.
  • Official results of the Graduate Record Examination are WAIVED for 2022, including the subject exam appropriate to the specialization in applied and computational physics.

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate school at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Oakland University Graduate School, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

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Proficiency of entering students

Students with an earned MS degree can obtain up to 32 credits reduction for their graduate studies with approval from the program committee. On entering the program, each MS student will be given a preliminary examination consisting of three parts: thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and electricity and magnetism (the course content of PHY 4210, 4720, and 4820, respectively). Failure in any of the three parts of the exam will obligate the student to take the corresponding course.

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Applied and Computational Physics is awarded upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 80 credits in an approved program of study, successful completion of a qualifying examination, and successful completion of a dissertation.

A minimum of 80 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Physics program, including at least 30 credits of dissertation research. The total course requirement is 12 courses (46 credits) and a research seminar (2 credits), with a minimum of 8 core courses and 2 courses not directly related to the dissertation topic. There are 2 free electives.

The basic requirements for the Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Physics are completion of a program of formal course work and independent research approved by the candidate’s dissertation committee and the Joint Committee on Applied and Computational Physics.

Course requirements

a. Core courses (minimum of 8 core courses + research seminar - 32 credits)

b. Electives (at least 8 credits from the appropriate track)

c. Dissertation (at least 30 credits)

  • (1 to 12 credits) (per semester)
  • Approval of research oriented dissertation submitted for internal and external review.

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0 (B) or better.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Plan of study

All accepted applicants, in consultation with their assigned faculty program adviser, must develop a plan of study that details specific courses the students will use to satisfy their degree requirements. The plan of study must be approved by the faculty program adviser and submitted by the student to Oakland University Graduate School.

Master’s and graduate certificate students must submit a department-approved plan of study by the end of their first semester of graduate coursework. Doctoral students must submit an approved plan of study prior to completion of the first year of coursework.

Note:  Credit granted for successful completion of a course toward an undergraduate degree program may not be repeated for a graduate degree. If a substitution is approved, the minimum number of program-approved graduate credits will be required. A Petition of Exception - OU Course Waiver/ Substitution requesting the substitution must be approved.

Qualifying examination

Typically, within two years after admission into the program, the student must pass a comprehensive qualifying examination. The comprehensive examination will consist of a written examination followed by an oral examination. The written examination will consist of two parts: Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. The oral exam will include the student’s presentation of his/her research. The examination is intended to determine the extent of the student’s knowledge and readiness for the doctoral degree and will be designed and evaluated by the dissertation committee. If the student does not pass the examination, the committee may allow the student to retake the examination within one year. Failure to pass the examination within two attempts shall constitute failure in the Ph.D. program.

Dissertation Committee

A dissertation committee consisting of at least three members (one of whom will serve as dissertation adviser) will be formed. The majority of the committee will consist of faculty members of the Department of Physics. The student’s dissertation adviser will be chairperson of the committee. The committee is charged with the guidance of the student in course selection, review of dissertation proposals before initiation of a project, and approval of the completed dissertation.

Research and dissertation

An integral and major component of the program is the successful completion of original research either utilizing state-of-the-art experimental methods or taking theoretical and/or computational approach to study a problem of current interest. Each student shall, in consultation with his or her adviser, prepare:

·    A dissertation proposal outlining the problem to be studied and the relation of this problem to practical applications

·    A survey of the appropriate literature

·    A description of the appropriate techniques

·    And an outline of the experiments to be performed.

The student shall, at the request of the dissertation committee, orally defend the proposal and elaborate on the methods for data collection and analysis.

The project shall be deemed ready for preparation of the dissertation at such time as the student’s dissertation committee agrees that the student has completed the project and that the student is an expert in the use of the specific theoretical and/or experimental methods required by the project. The student shall then prepare a doctoral dissertation for submission to the committee and shall defend the dissertation in a public oral examination conducted by the dissertation committee.


All students are required to fulfill a residency requirement for this program. Although students may complete some of the program on a part-time basis, continuous full-time enrollment is highly preferred. The minimal residency requirement shall be full-time residency (8 credits per semester) for at least three consecutive full semesters with at least two of these devoted primarily to the student’s research project.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive, preliminary or qualifying examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time to degree

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than ten years from the term of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).

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